Feature Card Sorting

A service is easy to use when information is organized in such a way that people find what they’re looking for. Too often however, information is structured based on what makes sense to the company, not to the users.

Feature sorting cards is a method in which participants can group individual labels written on notecards according to criteria that make sense to them. This will help you to validate how your target audience’s knowledge is structured, and it serves to create an information architecture that matches their expectations.

So if your service is for example a car-rental site. And you offer around 40 models that customers can choose from. How would you organize them into categories that people find understandable? You might know the difference between a family car and a luxury car, but your customers might have no idea. This is where card sorting can help: you ask your customers to organize the cars into groups that make sense to them. 

Cart sorting is an easy and reliable way to get valuable insights about how your features or information should be organized to meet the expectations of your target group.

Generally, the process works as follows:

  1. Choose a set of topics. The set should include max. 40­ items that represent the main content of your service. Write each topic on an individual index card. Avoid topics that contain the same words;  participants will tend to group those cards together.
  2. Shuffle the cards and give them to the participant. Ask the user to look at the cards one at a time and place cards that belong together into piles. There is no preset number of piles to aim for. 
  3. The user names the groups. Once the participant has grouped all the cards to her satisfaction, give her  blank cards and ask to write down a name for each group she created. 
  4. Debrief the user. This step is optional, but highly recommended. Ask users to explain the rationale behind the groups they created. 
  5. Aim for 10–20 participants. You’ll need enough users to detect patterns. With fewer, you won’t have enough data to reveal overlapping patterns.
  6. Analyze the data. Once you have all the data, look for common groups, category names or themes, and for items that were frequently paired together. 

Tools Feature Card Sorting

Video Feature Card Sorting

Any Questions?

Please don't hesitate to contact the Digital Innovation Lab. We are always happy to help!