DonnaM » Blog Archive » Card sorting tools – final summary

Card sorting tools – final summary

Here is the up-to-date list of card sorting tools: Card sorting software (and online) tools


I posted a short summary of card sorting tools last week. At the time, I had looked at all of the tools and entered cards into the two that I thought would allow me to go further. I didn’t intend on getting real users to use the tools – I ran a sort as part of a workshop and entered the outcomes into the tools myself.I used two tools – IBM’s USort/EzCalc and CardZort. A summary of how they went for results entry and analysis:


  • USort was as annoying as it always was (well, it hasn’t changed since I first used it years ago, so it isn’t any less annoying). I didn’t read the instructions properly first time and forgot to ‘promote’ all of my groups to top level categories, meaning that I had to start over.
  • The sorting involves dragging list items from one side of the screen to the other, making sure that they end up in the right group (this is buggy).
  • The program forces a very step-by-step approach (sort, group into higher groups, label) and there is no ability to go backwards
  • The cluster diagram is OK, with colour used to separate the main clusters. The only way to look at the labels is to look at the individual results


  • CardZort is nice. As I mentioned before, there is a label limit of 20 characters, making it impractical for my use at the moment, but that is the primary limitation
  • The sorting method is spatial – the cards look like cards and can be dragged around the screen, then piled on top of one another. I do like this – it feels nice and natural to me.
  • The groups can be labelled at any point, re-labelled and the groups can be changed. Almost as nice as working with paper, provided you have a good screen and high resolution
  • The cluster analysis is similar to that from EZSort. It doesn’t colour code the main groups, but does allow you to see what labels have been applied for each group, which is good.


I also had a chat with relevant people about two of the other tools:

  • uzCardSort is currently not being developed further as the main developer is unable. It is available for further open-source development. If anyone is interested in picking this up, I’m willing to help out on functionality, interaction and interface design.
  • In WebSort, you don’t have to name the categories before you create groups, but it gets very difficult to manage a bunch of unnamed categories that keep collapsing. You’ll probably have to look at it to see what I mean. Otherwise, it is very nice – attractive, easy to use and runs across the web.


Here is the up-to-date list of card sorting tools: Card sorting software (and online) tools

15 Responses to “Card sorting tools – final summary”

  1. Column Two Says:

    Card sorting tools – final summary

    Donna has posted another blog entry on card sorting tools, this time giving a summary of several of the most commonly-used. To quote: I posted a short summary of card sorting tools last week. At the time, I had looked…

  2. Information Management Weblog Says:

    Card Sort Tools

    Donna Maurer has written a short little review of the card sorting tools out there. The IA world apparently is still waiting for the perfect tool for this……

  3. Says:

    GUUUI – Card sorting tools

    GUUUI points us to a summary on card sorting tools.

  4. Philippe von Hellberg Says:

    We made very good experiences with a free tool called “card sort” ( It offers basic functionality and reads and writes EZCalc compatible files.
    During a project with a youth-information-office at different locations the application was really worth full, because of the easy and nice interface and a straightforward installation (java-applet).

  5. Donna Maurer Says:

    Thanks, but as I mentioned in my previous post, the card titles are limited to 18 characters which was nowhere near enough for me.

  6. Mark Thomsit Says:

    I’ve been unable to track down EZCalc from IBM. The URL given on most
    sites is:

    I saw this entry in your blog was recent. Do you know if the tool is
    still available?

  7. David Farrar Says:

    USort and EzCalc can still be found, for the moment, at:

  8. Guy Sangwine Says:


    Just for reference you can obtain both the IBM tools here:



  9. Stavros Garzonis Says:

    Hi Donna,

    Thanks for the comprehensive review. It seems that there are quite a few sorting tools out there with all kinds of advatages and shortcomings.

    I am personally trying to find one that would take into account deep nesting in the hierarchial stracture of the card sorting. For example, if a participant creates sub-sub-categories and has two cards under 2.1.3 category, the proximity value should be set higher than two cards in a sub category (e.g. 3.1).

    I have found xSort (MAC only) and the SynCaps software being able to take into account only one level of sub-categories.

    Please let me know if you are aware if any of the tools you have used can help me with this.



  10. Donna Maurer Says:

    Stavros – none does this. Mind you, I have never seen a participant create 3 levels deep – most do two at most ;)

    I also wonder about your assessment of the math – I don’t necessarily agree that cards 3 levels deep should have a higher proximity value than 2 levels deep. Depends on whether you look at them as leaves at the same level or whether you think of the first branch at the same level.

  11. Donna Spencer Says:

    I’ve continued this list on my book website:

  12. David Says:

    Hi Donna,

    UXSort is designed for sorting a large number of items onto a multi-level hierarchy. Check it out at and let me know your feedback.


  13. Donna Spencer Says:

    Thanks David, will do.

    How do the statistics measure closeness with the 2-level hierarchy. I remember EZcalc measured pairs at the top level as 1 and the lower as 0.5, which I always thought was backward, but I don’t recall seeing discussion of this in my cluster analysis texts

  14. David Says:

    Thanks for your response. In UXSort, distance was calculated based on graph distance which wasn’t weighted by levels. Next release will provide a control to enable specifying weights on hiearchy levels. Although I didn’t find any good reason to weight different levels at the momenet, I do understand people’s needs for that.

  15. Sergey Says:

    Another online Card Sorting tool:

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