Top tips for card sorting
Here are some top tips and best practices to consider when running a card sort.
Limit the number of cards shown to participants: While the Lyssna test builder supports a maximum of 100 cards and 30 categories, we recommend showing around 30–40 cards per participant. In the test builder you can set limits, for example show 25 out of 50 cards, and our system balances the number of times each card is displayed. This helps keep the task manageable for your participants while still allowing many cards in your study to be sorted.
Choose card text carefully and avoid bias: Jakob Nielsen from the Nielsen Norman Group advises against using terms that contain the same words, as participants tend to group these cards together. For example, most participants will group ‘Strawberry planting’ and ‘Strawberry growing’ together, because ‘Strawberry’ is repeated. Likewise, ‘Planting strawberries’ and ‘Planting wheat’ are likely to be grouped together because ‘Planting’ is repeated.
Make sure each card is easy to comprehend and represents a single concept: The information you provide on each card needs to be clear. If your participants don’t understand the meaning, you’re likely to end up with inconsistent categories. The same applies for category labels in closed card sorts.
Make sure each card represents a concept that can be grouped: For example, listing different modes of transportation and including a card that says ‘transport’ will no doubt confuse your participants.
Add images: Images can be a good way to illustrate concepts or items, or help to clarify text.
Elevate your research practice
Join over 320,000+ marketers, designers, researchers, and product leaders who use Lyssna to make data-driven decisions.