Remote card sorting
Before you begin a card sort test, take some time to establish your research goals and choose a set of test topics based on your goals. You can then use the below steps as a guide to running your test remotely.
Create cards and categories
Begin by brainstorming your cards and categories. Pull together all the information you can, like your sitemap or product inventory list. You might even find it beneficial to run a content audit on your site to get a full list of your existing content. You could also ask for input from stakeholders and review how similar organizations or competitors organize content.
Write down all the items or concepts that represent the main information on your site. For example, if you want to find out how participants group categories for an electrical/home appliances ecommerce store, you might list out the following as separate items: laptop, monitor, keyboard, webcam, DSLR camera, camera bag, microwave, kettle. You can then refine your list until you’re left with the most relevant items. Write one concept per card to make information clear to your participants.
If you’re running a closed card sort, you’ll also need to create the categories for participants to sort the cards into. Using the above example, you might include ‘Computers & Accessories’, ‘Cameras & Accessories’, and ‘Appliances’.
The number of cards you create will depend on your project. For an open card sort, 30–50 cards should allow you to gain useful data about how your audience categorizes the cards (but it might be worth limiting the number of cards shown to each participant – more on this below). If you’re running a closed card sort with simple grouping options, you might choose to go higher than this.
Build the card sort test
At the start of your test, be sure to include a welcome message and share your research goals. When using a tool like Lyssna, detailed instructions on how to take the test are built in, but you can also provide custom steps for your participants. We have detailed step-by-step instructions on how to create an open sort task and a closed sort task in our help center.
As mentioned in the section above, you might also choose to ask participants additional follow-up questions. For example, asking participants whether they found the test easy or difficult.
You might also ask further questions to those participants who found the test difficult (e.g. asking which cards were difficult to sort or which categories were difficult to name). In the Lyssna test builder you can apply these conditions using test logic.
One of the primary goals of card sorting is to gain insights into how the people you’re designing for think, so we recommend recruiting participants that represent the demographics of your intended audience.
If you’re testing an internal product, you might recruit employees or share with an external test group of key customers. Depending on your organization, you might invite customers via social media, in-app messages, or a mailing list. If you’re going down this route, an incentivization (like a discount to your product) may help to recruit more responses.
A recruitment panel – like Lyssna's user research panel – can be a quick and easy option, especially if you’re looking for a large testing group or participants with specific demographics.