Monday, September 15, 2008

Tools for user experience design - card sorting

In the last few years I've witnessed the rise and rise of design and particularly usability/user experience design as a professional area.

In the mid-90s, when I was conducting wireframe-based user testing, observing user behaviour in applications and asking users which functionality was most important to them before building websites, there was low awareness in Australia of the value of usability and correspondingly few people working specifically in the area.

Today, alongside the increase in the number of usability consultants we've seen the arrival of online tools that assist web teams in conducting their own testing. 

I'm going to do a series of posts on different topics in the area over the next few weeks.

For now, here's information on card sorting that your web team might find useful.

Card sorting

What is it
Card sorting is an approach that assists web professionals and information architects understand how their audiences group concepts, topics or items - people's 'mental model' of information.

This helps them build a structures that assist their audiences in finding what they are looking for when navigating information, websites and applications. 
It also identifies complex areas needing more work. This includes where there are significant differences in understanding terms or in the relationship between items.

It is one of the easiest and cheapest design processes to use, can provide or validate key insights early in projects (before design work takes place) and can be quite fun for participants.

How is it used
Traditionally card sorts are conducted using cards (or sticky notes) in a physical space. 

Tools and resources
Card sorting is well documented online.
There are now ways to conduct card sorting online, through tools such as:

1 comment:

  1. It's Donna MauRer. And in fact, she is now using the name Donna Spencer. She discusses the ins and outs of changing your name here:
    http://maadmob.net/donna/blog/2008/identity_name_change

    ReplyDelete