Card Sorting is a technique used to create and test the information architecture (IA) of a website.
To understand and start using the card sorting process, you need to know what information architecture is first.
What is Information Architecture?
Information Architecture as a process is the practice of arranging content into parts to make it more understandable to the user.
According to the information architecture institute, IA is defined as
the practice of deciding how to arrange the parts of something to be understandable.
Even-though IA can be applied to any system, it is generally associated with web design.
The IA of your website should be optimized for user flow and experience making it easy to take decisions and actions.
What is Card Sorting?
Card Sorting is a method that helps in creating or testing the information architecture of a website. Participants take part in a card-sorting session to “sort” categories of content into groups.
You can use post-it notes, cards or even softwares to sort the content.
Why Card Sorting?
Considering the user (website visitor) needs is the first step in any web design project.
Understanding their needs and backgrounds at an early stage leads to successful websites.
Card sorting can tell you how the users understand the categories of content and how they would want your website to be structured.
Essentially, card sorting can help you to build the overall structure of you website decide the labels and categories for your website and determine what to place on your home page.
Open and Closed Card Sorting
Open card sorting is when participants organize content into categories and name the categories. Closed card sorting is when participants organize content into pre-determined categories.
You can use a combination of open and closed card sorting for better results.
The open card sorting method can be used first to find the categories and then the closed card sorting technique can be used to see if it works.