Card sorting helps clients understand how to best structure their website information architecture, by allowing target users to define what navigation and information categories are most intuitive to them. Card sorting is best when used in the early stage of website or portal development to determine how to best organize content for target users.
Card sorting is typically conducted in-person in a lab-based setting, by an eVOC moderator. Users are given individual names or labels on separate cards and are asked to create groups of cards that are similar. Once they have grouped the cards, users are asked to create category names to describe each group.
Users are then asked to describe why they organized the cards the way they did and provide a more in-depth description of what each category offers. Following this exercise, pre-determined category names can be provided and users can apply the new category names to their own groups, or rearrange cards to more appropriately fit under the given categories.
The benefits of card sorting are that clients can directly observe participants' thought processes in person and understand why users categorize content in certain ways. Moderated sessions allow for flexibility in exercises and questioning and enable in-depth probing on each category.
Card sorting will help identify the most logical navigation structure and information architecture for a site based on the customers' thought process rather than the internal business process. Sometimes these two processes are aligned; however, often there are discrepancies between the two which call for direct user feedback and interaction.
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