DonnaM » Blog Archive » Scenarios & closed card sorting

Scenarios & closed card sorting

I’ve written before about how I have reservations about how people use card sorting as a technique to develop an IA, but I’ve always talked about open sorting. Today I had a great experience that shows how useless closed card sorting is.

Just for background, in a closed sort, participants are asked to place content into pre-defined categories. Some people use it as a further exploratory method after an open sort, some as an evaluation method (can you tell that I use neither ;)

Today I was working with a team, exploring a new IA for a site and discussing where we would put various pieces of content. We’d talk about some content and one of us would suggest a place where it would fit (like you’d do in a closed sort). I’d turn it around and describe a scenario with someone looking for the content as part of a task.

So many times, after thinking about the scenario, we’d all say “no, I wouldn’t look there, I’d look in xx”.

I wish I could give you examples to clarify this, but I can’t. Believe me, it is amazing the amount of difference there is approaching content placement from a task-based perspective, rather than a content-based perspective. Try it!

One Response to “Scenarios & closed card sorting”

  1. Kevin Cornwall Says:

    I guess that’s why they call it user centered design and not content centered design – when it’s done right :-)

    In fact, hypertexted content is supposed to mean that content placement is irrelavant because all relevant other bits should be readily associated with and available via hypertext from any given bit.

    The remedial case is that a poorly designed business-centered site will take on the hierarchical information structure of the company, whereas an expert or user centered site is closer to a true web form.

    The advanced approach is to use dynamic technology to configure a “site” for each user or user group on the fly! What portals like Yahoo try to do.