It’s a scenario that many designers, developers, and information architects will be all too familiar with. Your website was created in 1996 and people have been adding bits and pieces to it ever since—but now when it comes time to redesign, where should all those pages really live? Or should they even be there at all? Journalist and User Experience expert, Ruth Stalker-Firth, casts her expert eye over an occasionally neglected solution to your site architecture problems—the humble card sort.
At the beginning of any information design exercise, it is normal to be confronted by a very long list of potential subjects to include. The challenge is to organise this information in a way that is useful and meaningful for the users of the system.
This is a method for discovering the latent structure in an unsorted list of statements or ideas. The investigator writes each statement on a small index card and requests six or more informants to sort these cards into groups or clusters, working on their own. The results of the individual sorts are then combined and if necessary analysed statistically.
Affinity diagramming is used to sort large amounts of data into logical groups. Existing items and/or new items identified by individuals are written on sticky notes which are sorted into categories as a workshop activity.