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Ours Goes to 11: The Next Level of Card Sorting

Card sorting may be one of the less sexy aspects of user research, but our new take on this practical exercise will provide participants with a new method for improving the labels, structure, and overall usability of their websites.

While the traditional 30-card limit for online card sorting is effective in evaluating a small website, it may not reveal meaningful results for sites with thousands of pages. We have developed a staggered card sort method that deploys several versions of a card sort that contain complementary content. The approach provides a “safety net” by testing a small group of content, but also enables deeper exploration through larger card sorts.

We’ll demonstrate our methodology by facilitating a live card sort using our staggered sorting method. Our audience will steer the demo, conducting the card sort themselves and participating in the analysis.

We’ll then provide an overview of how we’ve implemented the same strategy for our clients.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. How can we get more information from our participants when conducting remote card sorting?
  2. What is the threshold of content users are able to effectively sort in revealing their mental model of organizing web content?
  3. What are the advantages of having users sort as much content as possible in a remote card sort?
  4. Is a remote testing environment an effective means for revealing the true mental model for users?
  5. How can we use existing industry tools to push the limits of conventional card sorting?



Christine Holcombe, Project Manager, Design For Use

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