Analyzing Card Sorts

To conduct a better analysis of the results of the card sort, Optimal Sort (the software we are using to collect your feedback) provides exportable spreadsheets based on the work of Donna Spencer. Spencer, who works in the information architecture/design and user experience fields, has written extensively on the topic of card sorting. These spreadsheets use formulas that fine-tune our analysis of the groupings and labels that our beta testers applied to the content cards. It also allows us to look for patterns between participants and how each participant thinks about content. For more details about these spreadsheets, you can read Donna Spencer's explanation, which includes examples.

We're applying the following steps to our card sort methodology, as provided by Donna Spencer: 

  1. Decide what you want to learn
  2. Select the method (we chose open card sort)
  3. Choose content
  4. Choose and invite participants
  5. Run the card sort and record the data
  6. Analyze the outcomes
  7. Use them in your project (Spencer 5)

Card sorting is not just for web site structure - it is also used to study how humans think, determine the structure of an FAQ or other knowledge base, develop software systems, determine the order of steps in a process, organize the content of a book, etc..

The 61 content cards in Card Sort #1 resulted in 481 categories as grouped by the 50 beta testers who completed the sort. We're currently identifying correlations between the groupings in order to generate standardized categories based on how the majority of beta testers grouped the card content.

Screenshot of Card Sort #1 data:

Screenshot of Card Sort #1 data:

Spencer, Donna, and Jesse James Garrett. "All About Card Sorting." Card Sorting: Designing Usable Categories. Brooklyn, NY: Rosenfeld Media, 2009. 5. Print.