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Card Sorting – one size doesn’t fit all

by Martyn Green on May 24, 2012

I’m currently in the process of guiding one of our new customers through their intranet journey, part of which has involved a card sorting exercise. I tend to do this with a group of employees to help them understand how their intranet content should be structured.

When I’m conducting this type of exercise, what really fascinates me is how vastly different the outcomes of a card sort can be from project to project.

A common misconception that card sorting participants make is that I will direct them in what is the ‘right or ‘wrong’ way to group content. In fact, my role is as a facilitator, overseeing the whole process. I’m not there to direct, but to ensure that everyone has a say and that dominant personalities don’t take over. After all, the whole point of the exercise is to consider everybody’s needs.

However, something that I do suggest is that participants keep an open mind. I’ve often seen staff going into a card sort with very definite ideas of how they think content should be organised. This soon changes when they discover how content from different areas fits together. What works for them may not work so well for others.

From my experience, card sorts are effective because they’re a practical exercise. Staff aren’t being preached to, they can get involved and make suggestions.

Your staff get to have their say and structure content in a way that makes sense to them. This ‘means your card sort will result in a structure that’s tailor made to the needs of your potential intranet audience.

What’s your experience taking part in card sorting exercises? Comment below.

Topics: 2. Plan

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