The meat of a card sort is the sessions with participants. In this video, learn tips to run card sort sessions effectively.
- As mentioned, when you use a digital card sort tool, you can choose to moderate the sessions or let participants respond in their own time. If you're running an unmoderated session, you rely on your instructions and don't have to interact with any participants. If you are moderating card sort sessions, remember the standard rules of running user research. Set the stage, make users feel comfortable, provide clear instructions, and then be quiet. The first thing you need to do is prepare users by giving them clear instructions.
Luckily, card sorts are pretty easy to describe and the tasks should be straightforward for users. We've included a simple set of directions that you can customize for your sessions. In this introduction, you should remind participants to think think out lout and that there are no right or wrong answers. You're not judging their abilities. It's not their job to create a design, just to give you their feedback about how they would group things. You want to be clear and frank with your direction, but warm and friendly in tone. If you'll be moderating the card sorts, your biggest task during the sessions will be to remain quiet.
You want to focus on observing what participants do and listening to them think aloud. You'll want to ask probing questions when they're stuck and move them along after they've had ample time to think through issues. If participants ask you questions, try to guide them to figure out what they would do without you there, and then answer the question at the end of the session. Once the participant has completed sorting their cards, take a few moments to discuss what they've come up with. You want to make sure that you understand their thought process.
It can be especially helpful to ask about any items that they had trouble categorizing, so you can take note of issues and spot trends there as well. If you did a closed card sort, you might even get suggestions for categories that you hadn't considered or new label names for existing categories. If you don't moderate the sessions, you can still follow the sort with a short survey, asking where participants have issues, if there were any cards or groups that didn't make sense, and what other suggestions they have.
- What's card sorting?
- Open, closed, and hybrid card sorts
- Card planning
- Category planning
- Finding, selecting, and screening participants
- Scheduling and incentivizing participants
- Running sessions