Improving Your Information Architecture with Card Sorting

Within the past few months I have heard the word card sorting more than I have heard it in my 21 years of life. It may seem self explanatory, you arrange cards in which they make sense to you, but it’s not just a simple puzzle. Card sorting is one of the most popular ways to organize and establish the information architecture of your website.

In this article, Pierre Croft provides the basic information about information architecture. He gives his readers the most important details of IA and advises on the benefits of card sorting as well. Being able to connect what I have learned in class to this article is very interesting to me, and one of the reasons I enjoyed reading it so much. I like being able to go, “Hey! I know what that means!” and be previously knowledgable about what I am reading.

“Successful projects are successful often because the owners commit to understanding users, their backgrounds and their goals as early as possible” (Pierre Croft). This quote is very important, not just for the world of web, but for any project you engage in. According to guest speaker Megan Lake, managing client expectations is a project management basic. If you aren’t on board and communicating with your client from day one, chances are it won’t go to smoothly.

Having a good information architecture begins by having a good navigation. Navigation refers to elements of an interface that people use to make their way through that structure (ex. menus, breadcrumbs, links) and it is depicted in wireframes or prototypes. The most efficient and successful way to create your navigation is to engage the users in the process. This is where card sorting comes in. After hearing just about every guest speaker talk about card sorting, I realized it must be pretty important. Everyone agreed that this method is best because it is reliable and effective, and weirdly enough that is what Croft believes too.

The major reason most websites aren’t effective is because their IA is designed around the business and not the users needs. When looking back at Hank Thornhill’s presentation, he said one of the most important parts of good UX design is that it provides VALUE to the user. So if a website is favoring the business, how is that valuing the users? IT’S NOT. An easy way to avoid this is implementing card sorting. This will ensure your IA is organized by your very own viewers. Ultimately, the goal of any card sort is to improve the labelling, grouping and organization of information.

Croft goes on to talk about the two different types of card sorting that exist, open and closed. Closed card sorting is the what I recently used to understand my users ideas for my business proposal. The titles and categories are all fixed and my participants had to arrange the content into their own structure. On the other hand, open card sorting allows your participants to rename cards, make their own titles, and arrange anything how they please. This type of card sorting is more flexible, but I felt for my project it was best to used a closed practice.

If you would like to read more about Pierre Croft’s view on card sorting click the link below. He gives a lot of more great information as well as some step by step advice!

Read Full Article Here!

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