Card sorting


A method for exploring relationships between content and deciding structures.


  • To sort 'cards' (content) into 'categories' that describe logical groupings of those cards.
  • To understand how different pieces of content might be categorised together.
  • To organise information into categories that make the most sense to people.
  • To understand why people see connections between information.

What you get

  • An 'Information Architecture' for a website or document.
  • An understanding of the reasons people categorise content they way they do.


  • Works well for small sets of content.
  • Works best when participants are familiar with the domain or topic.


  • Relies on content being identified ahead of time.
  • Can be overwhelming for participants if there is more than 20 or 30 'cards' to sort.


Ask test participants to talk out loud as they sort cards into categories. This will give the researcher better insight into why content is being grouped as it is.

Results of the cardsort should not be taken as the 'right' information architecture; they should guide (rather than dictate) the information architecture.

Key Terminology

Open card sort: Where participants group content into categories that they create and name.

Closed card sort: Where participants group content into predefined categories that have already been named.

Tools and resources