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Design UX Basics Tools UXers Use Tools for Understanding Content and Context

Why and how Card sorting will help in UCD?

I am having difficult time understanding the relevance of Card sorting as a tool for understanding Content and Context.It would be great if anybody could explain a little bit more in detail.

3 Answers

Card sorting is a technique used to structure content or a product. It involves a group of users who are not designers and has them organize content in a logical manner using cards, for instance, site navigation or other content. You can kind of think of it as a way for designers to get help thinking out of the box—apart from actual design stuff. It takes the thinking of a designer or developer and separates it to focus on the user.

Basic Method Described by Wikipedia:

  1. A person representative of the audience is given a set of index cards with terms already written on them.
  2. This person puts the terms into logical groupings, and finds a category name for each grouping.
  3. This process is repeated across a population of test subjects.
  4. The results are later analyzed to reveal patterns.

So, essentially UCD puts the user first in how they might interact and relate to content, and helps organize and structure information or products. It's an analytical method similar like what Google Analytics is for user activity and site metrics, but this research would help organize information.

Here's a YouTube video to provide a more visual idea of what card sorting is about.

Thanks Dustin. Is it related to Optimal sort?

OptimalSort is a card sorting service. I updated my answer above with a video that should help paint the picture for you. :smiley:

I got the picture, Dustin. Thanks.

Matteo Simeone
Matteo Simeone
13,365 Points

Really useful example, thanks Dustin!

Tommy Gebru
Tommy Gebru
30,152 Points

Hey Prabal, if you still need help, there is usually great content located below the video lesson. In your case OptimalSort. Is an online service that offers Card Sorting as a tool to User-Centered Design.

About how many "users" would one have to recruit in order go get enough data to be useful?

There was a study done which stated:


As few as 25-30 participants will likely yield results similar to those of several hundred, provided these participants are representative of actual users and are familiar with the domain being considered. Thus, researchers could save time and money, not to mention the headache of analyzing all the extra data.