Card Sorting Example

Hope you’ve already studied all the basics of card sorting UX research technique, it’s specifics and advantages and are ready to look at the card sorting example. If no, make sure to go through these pages: 

Learn about the process in this Card Sorting Guide, compare the Pricing, get familiar with Information Architecture and Optimalsort and discover card sorting Tips & Tricks.

Now, let’s jump right into it. 

How to prepare for your card sorting study?

First and foremost, you’ll need to decide if your card sort is going to take place online or offline. Both options are pretty great, but for bigger insights I would recommend going with the first option. 

Some of the advantages of online card sorting are:  

  • Affordable price
  • An opportunity to target and filter your respondents
  • Much faster
  • Detailed reports and easy-to-analyze visuals 

In case you chose to conduct your study online, it’s time for the next step.You need to choose the perfect online card sorting tool for your study. To help you, we created this ultimate list of best online Card Sorting tools. Feel free to check it out!

Next, choose the type of card sorting that suits you best. It always depends on the goals of your study.

Open Card Sort – testers sort cards into groups which they label themselves. Great choice when you want to understand how users group your content. 

Closed Card Sort – it’s when you give respondents categories to sort the cards into. I recommend this one, in case you want to find out how users match cards with existing content structure.

Hybrid Card Sort – respondents sort your cards into defined categories or create their own. Combining the best of Open and Closed Card Sorting, it allows you to validate information grouping strategy while still leaving respondents room for free expression.

More on what type to choose in this Card Sorting Guide.

Card Sorting study example

In this card sorting example we will be working on improving a parenting magazine’s website navigation. There are content topics that need to be organized into categories on the website’s menu. These content topics are going to be represented by our cards. 

card sorting example

Creating cards and categories 

So, the first step is to brainstorm your cards. Depending on your niche and the goal of your study you might wanna be sorting content titles, specific products, items from the menu etc.

Remember, your cards should be easy to read and comprehend. Try not to use too professional language if you’re not sure the users will understand it.

When possible, try to illustrate your cards with images, to make the sort easier for the respondents. Check out our card sorting Tips & Tricks page for more info on the topic!

For Closed and Hybrid card sorting you’ll also need to prepare category labels.

Keep in mind, you want all or most of your cards to be sorted. That’s why it’s important that you have enough categories covering all the possible groups. The more, the better.

Here are some categories we chose for this card sorting example: 

card sorting example

Write your questionnaire

Questionnaires before and after your study are important for gathering all types of info about the users. This will allow you to screen your respondents and filter out the irrelevant ones. Moreover, you can learn more about their preferences and experiences, opinions on your product or the study.

  • Pre-study question

A great place for your screener. There you can also ask for some additional information about the respondent, their demographics or experience with your product.

  • Post-study question

Can be used for gathering any type of additional feedback. Ask some relevant questions and let respondents express themselves. In this card sorting study example we decided to go with 3 questions, all of them pre-study.

  • Are you a parent of at least one child that is 0 to 12 years old? (screener)
  • What is your gender? (dropdown select)
  • What do you read Super Mom Magazine for? (multiple choice)

Recruit the respondents

There are multiple handy ways to do that, so you don’t have to worry about not getting enough participants.

Some of the options are:

  • Recruiting from a respondent pool (many online card sorting tools provide that option for a quite reasonable price)
  • Sharing a link via email
  • Asking people to join your study on social media
  • Recruiting directly from the website (with the help of the Recruitment widget)

In this example of card sorting we shared a link to our study via email newsletter and used the Recruitment widget on the website, offering a discount code for every finished sort. That is a great practice for motivating people to attend your research. 

An ideal number of participants for your study is 30-50. 

Inform and engage

Prepare a short instruction and a Welcome Message to show before the study, explaining the process and the goals of the sort. Don’t forget to tell your testers how appreciated their help is!

Most of the online card sorting tools have these instructions by default, but you can usually customize them as well.

Here’s an example of the one we used in this card sorting study:

card sorting example

Card sorting example study results

After you launch your study and get some completed sorts you’ll be able to start analyzing the data. Some of the softwares will provide you with advanced analytics, some will be more basic. You can learn more about each of them in this list of best online Card Sorting tools

There are two suggested ways to look at the results of your research.

Exploratory analysis is an approach where you go through the results searching for ideas using your intuition and creativity.

Statistical analysis is focused on numbers. Card sorting tools offer many views on data. You can use the standardization grid, similarity matrix, dendrograms, results matrix, popular placements matrix, and many others.

All of the results are visually represented and easy to read and comprehend. Here’s what we got in our card sorting example study:

A study overview with the respondents’ information:

card sorting example

Standardization grid:

card sorting example

Similarity Matrix:

And other countless graphs and charts that’ll help you organize your website in a user-friendly way!

Try card sorting example study for yourself using these handy demos:

open card sorting, closed card sorting, and hybrid card sorting

Check the example of a PDF report as well.

Card Sorting Example

Hope you’ve already studied all the basics of card sorting UX research technique, it’s specifics and advantages and are ready to look at the card sorting example. If no, make sure to go through these pages: 

Learn about the process in this Card Sorting Guide, compare the Pricing, get familiar with Information Architecture and Optimalsort and discover card sorting Tips & Tricks.

Now, let’s jump right into it. 

How to prepare for your card sorting study?

First and foremost, you’ll need to decide if your card sort is going to take place online or offline. Both options are pretty great, but for bigger insights I would recommend going with the first option. 

Some of the advantages of online card sorting are:  

  • Affordable price
  • An opportunity to target and filter your respondents
  • Much faster
  • Detailed reports and easy-to-analyze visuals 

In case you chose to conduct your study online, it’s time for the next step.You need to choose the perfect online card sorting tool for your study. To help you, we created this ultimate list of best online Card Sorting tools. Feel free to check it out!

Next, choose the type of card sorting that suits you best. It always depends on the goals of your study.

Open Card Sort – testers sort cards into groups which they label themselves. Great choice when you want to understand how users group your content. 

Closed Card Sort – it’s when you give respondents categories to sort the cards into. I recommend this one, in case you want to find out how users match cards with existing content structure.

Hybrid Card Sort – respondents sort your cards into defined categories or create their own. Combining the best of Open and Closed Card Sorting, it allows you to validate information grouping strategy while still leaving respondents room for free expression.

More on what type to choose in this Card Sorting Guide.

Card Sorting study example

In this card sorting example we will be working on improving a parenting magazine’s website navigation. There are content topics that need to be organized into categories on the website’s menu. These content topics are going to be represented by our cards. 

card sorting example

Creating cards and categories 

So, the first step is to brainstorm your cards. Depending on your niche and the goal of your study you might wanna be sorting content titles, specific products, items from the menu etc.

Remember, your cards should be easy to read and comprehend. Try not to use too professional language if you’re not sure the users will understand it.

When possible, try to illustrate your cards with images, to make the sort easier for the respondents. Check out our card sorting Tips & Tricks page for more info on the topic!

For Closed and Hybrid card sorting you’ll also need to prepare category labels.

Keep in mind, you want all or most of your cards to be sorted. That’s why it’s important that you have enough categories covering all the possible groups. The more, the better.

Here are some categories we chose for this card sorting example: 

card sorting example

Write your questionnaire

Questionnaires before and after your study are important for gathering all types of info about the users. This will allow you to screen your respondents and filter out the irrelevant ones. Moreover, you can learn more about their preferences and experiences, opinions on your product or the study.

  • Pre-study question

A great place for your screener. There you can also ask for some additional information about the respondent, their demographics or experience with your product.

  • Post-study question

Can be used for gathering any type of additional feedback. Ask some relevant questions and let respondents express themselves. In this card sorting study example we decided to go with 3 questions, all of them pre-study.

  • Are you a parent of at least one child that is 0 to 12 years old? (screener)
  • What is your gender? (dropdown select)
  • What do you read Super Mom Magazine for? (multiple choice)

Recruit the respondents

There are multiple handy ways to do that, so you don’t have to worry about not getting enough participants.

Some of the options are:

  • Recruiting from a respondent pool (many online card sorting tools provide that option for a quite reasonable price)
  • Sharing a link via email
  • Asking people to join your study on social media
  • Recruiting directly from the website (with the help of the Recruitment widget)

In this example of card sorting we shared a link to our study via email newsletter and used the Recruitment widget on the website, offering a discount code for every finished sort. That is a great practice for motivating people to attend your research. 

An ideal number of participants for your study is 30-50. 

Inform and engage

Prepare a short instruction and a Welcome Message to show before the study, explaining the process and the goals of the sort. Don’t forget to tell your testers how appreciated their help is!

Most of the online card sorting tools have these instructions by default, but you can usually customize them as well.

Here’s an example of the one we used in this card sorting study:

card sorting example

Card sorting example study results

After you launch your study and get some completed sorts you’ll be able to start analyzing the data. Some of the softwares will provide you with advanced analytics, some will be more basic. You can learn more about each of them in this list of best online Card Sorting tools

There are two suggested ways to look at the results of your research.

Exploratory analysis is an approach where you go through the results searching for ideas using your intuition and creativity.

Statistical analysis is focused on numbers. Card sorting tools offer many views on data. You can use the standardization grid, similarity matrix, dendrograms, results matrix, popular placements matrix, and many others.

All of the results are visually represented and easy to read and comprehend. Here’s what we got in our card sorting example study:

A study overview with the respondents’ information:

card sorting example

Standardization grid:

card sorting example

Similarity Matrix:

And other countless graphs and charts that’ll help you organize your website in a user-friendly way!

Try card sorting example study for yourself using these handy demos:

open card sorting, closed card sorting, and hybrid card sorting

Check the example of a PDF report as well.

Want To Learn More About Card Sorting?

Check Out Our Card Sorting Tools Pricing Comparison!