UX Research & User Testing Course

Validating Top-Level Navigation with Closed Card Sorting

Setup cards representing your website's content and ask participants to sort these cards into categories you've already defined. By seeing how users intuitively organize your content, you'll quickly discover if your proposed website structure makes sense to them.

Closed Card Sorting: Validating Your Website’s Structure

Closed card sorting is like a sneak peek into your users’ minds, helping you understand how they would naturally navigate your site. You’ll identify whether your proposed structure aligns with their expectations and understand how they would intuitively navigate your site.

Setting Up a Closed Card Sort

  1. Log in to UX Metrics and select “Card Sorts.”
  2. Create a new card sort and give it a name (e.g., “Test Closed Card Sort”).
  3. (Optional) Enter welcome information, participant instructions, and thank you messages.
  4. Select “Closed Card Sort” and define the top-level sections of your website (e.g., About Us, Services, Case Studies, Product).
  5. Create an additional group called “Not Sure” for users to place items they are uncertain about.
  6. Create a card for each piece of information that you want to include on the website (e.g., Company History, Acme Case Study, Product 1, Product 2).
  7. Preview the card sort to see what the user experience will be like.

User Experience

  1. Users read the welcome message and instructions.
  2. They see a view with all the cards and the top-level sections.
  3. Users drag and drop each card into the section they feel is most appropriate.
  4. When finished, users hit “Submit” to complete the card sort.

Analyzing Results

  1. Go back to the card sort and view the results.
  2. For each card, you can see where it was sorted and the percentage of people who placed it in each section.
  3. High agreement scores (e.g., 100%) indicate that users consistently placed a card in a specific section.
  4. Lower agreement scores (e.g., 32%) suggest that users were divided on where to place a card. In such cases, consider cross-linking the content in both sections to ensure accessibility.

The Value of Closed Card Sorting

Closed card sorting is a valuable tool for validating top-level navigation and ensuring that your website’s information architecture is user-friendly and intuitive. By setting up a closed card sort and analyzing the results, you can gain insights into where users expect to find specific content and identify areas where there may be confusion or disagreement. This information can guide your decisions on organizing content and creating a navigation structure that aligns with user expectations. Incorporating closed card sorting into your design process can lead to a more effective and user-centric website, ultimately improving the overall user experience.

Closed Card Sort Video Transcript

If you find yourself working on the information architecture for a website and you want to validate your top-level navigation to work out whether all of the content that you’ve got will fit neatly into those sections and that users will know where to look, then closed card sorting is the way to go.

Let me show you what a closed card sorting is like and how to set it up.

First of all you want to log in.

Once you’ve logged in you select card sorts and you create a new card sort.

You give it a name, we’ll just call it test closed card sort.

You can enter welcome information if you want to, participant instructions and thank you messages but we won’t bother with that right now.

You hit next, you select closed card sort and then you’re going to do two things.

First of all you’re going to define those top-level sections of your website.

So to put in some examples we might have about us, services, case studies and product.

That’ll do for now.

Now it is worth creating one extra group besides your top-level navigation and that’s called not sure.

You create this group in case users aren’t sure where to place a piece of information and we want to know that they’re not sure and so we provide a place so that they can put those things.

Then what we’re going to do is create a card for each piece of information that we want to go on the website.

So for example company history and it might be that we want Acme case study or we might want to have product one, product two and so on.

Once we’ve added all of our cards in we can hit next.

We’ve got some settings that we can adjust but we don’t really need to worry about that in this case and hit next and we have our card sort that we can then preview by hitting the preview button.

What the user will then get is after they’ve read the welcome message and the instructions they’ll see a view like this where they can take each of the cards and they can drop it in whichever section they feel it’s most appropriate for it to go in.

Then when they’re done they can hit submit and they’ve completed the card sort.

Now obviously we only were testing with a very few cards there so it’s fairly simple.

But once they’ve done that exercise then you can go back in and you can look at the results.

So what we’re going to do is we’re going to go into a card sort but this time we’re going to go into an existing card sort that I’ve done.

So a closed card sort and we’re going to view the results.

Here are all of the cards that I had that I asked people to sort and for each one you can see where it’s been sorted into.

So for example Vision Insurance was sorted into benefits 100% of the time and that’s 31 different people put it in that section.

So that’s really great.

Now as we scroll down further we’ll see that that agreement score declines over time and so where we get to lower agreement scores like 32% where talent management sometimes was put in working in the University of Florida and sometimes in hiring process.

Then what we’ll need to do is we’ll cross link both sections so that whether they go into the first section or the second they can still access talent management.

So you can see what groups there were and what cards were in each group and that should inform where to place your content in the information architecture.

UX Research & User Testing Course