Guide potential customers through a proposed product and determine their willingness to adopt it.

👥 10 and more | ⏰ days | 💪🏼 medium effort


Asking potential customers how they might logically group and organise proposed product features, concepts, or experiences can be used to validate hierarchies, navigational structures, and information architecture.

This research method is particularly useful for teams that want to validate, across a few different types of users, the complex or possibly numerous relationships between the solution’s features, functionalities, and types of content.

Card sorting should ideally deliver clear taxonomies that the team can leverage to successfully build the most useful navigation and flows within the final product.

Who is involved?

Card sorting requires a recruiter to find individuals who are representative of the target audience and are capable of thinking aloud and communicating their decisions.

A moderator to manage the presentation and sorting of the cards while the participant speaks; and a team to analyse the groupings and form conclusions on the most successful way to organise the product’s taxonomies, navigation, and workflows.

How is it done?

  1. Create index cards that each represent a potential product feature, functionality, or type of content that can be understood by the participants. For example, if testing an e-commerce solution, your team may put product names on the cards; or, for a news site, you may write down article features like “Saving”, “Sharing”, or “Commenting”.
  2. Recruit participants who represent the various types of users you may expect to use the product and who are willing to come into the building for the exercise.
  3. During the session, decide if you want the participant to do open card sorting, in which they can write their own titles for their groupings, or closed card sorting, in which the moderator will ask the participant to group under predetermined categories.
  4. After all sessions have been completed, analyze the results as a team and discuss how your solution supports (or hinders) the navigation and flows your customers expect.