Card sorting

Card sorting is a type of user research activity that provides insights into the mental models of your users. It can vastly improve a site’s architecture and shape decisions by understanding how users categorise topics in ways that make sense to them.

Running a card sort involves creating a set of cards that your testers will then be asked to group together in a way that makes the most sense to them.

You can run two types of card sorting testing:

Open card sorting – where testers name the categories for the cards they sort themselves.

Closed card sorting – where categories are already decided, with users only needing to sort the cards they’re given.

For sites that already have an established information hierarchy, closed card sorting would be a better option to evaluate what you already have. If you’re at an earlier stage in the process or are open to changing your site, open card sorting could uncover ideas you might not have previously considered.

Card sorting

Card sorting can give you a variety of information, such as:

  • how your users expect content to be grouped together as well as labelling
  • what the most logical order of content is for your audience
  • whether your current site architecture is difficult to understand or follow.

When to use card sorting


To ensure you’re labelling content in an easy to understand way


When you want to understand how users expect information to be grouped

Site structure

If you want to define a clear site architecture


When you’re deciding what content to put on a page

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