Card Sort

Explaining complex mental models can be challenging. A card sort exercise is a way to help users express their thoughts around abstract concepts in a clear way. (i.e. How do they view their debit card in the context of their spending habits and money in general?)

Serving suggestion

  • Minimum 5 people
  • Maximum 60 cards
  • In-person with physical cards
  • Remote with digital tools

Pairs well with

  • Ethnographic Research


Understand user behaviors, attitudes & needs

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Look Out

How to do it:

  • Break down a list of content or concepts that need to be organized.
  • Design a card set from your list (and optional blank cards).
  • Recruit, schedule, and incentivize participants.
  • Present cards and instructions to participants (one-on-one).
  • Allow the participant time to review and sort the cards, thinking out loud as they go.
  • Discuss sorting logic with the participant.
  • Summarize findings to your team.

Additional resources

Card Sorting –

A quick 101 on card sorting methods.

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Card Sorting: A Powerful, Simple Research Method – Design @ IBM

IBM’s take on card sorting.

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The Definitive Guide to Card Sorting – Dyno Mapper

An end to end guide on card sorting.

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