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!