Card Sorting

Over the last couple of weeks I have been in charge of our card sorting project. This is the first part of a bigger project looking at the navigation of the Wiggle website.

The idea is to get a better understanding of how people think about the products we sell on our site before we start working on a new navigation system.

Photo of my desk
Cutting up the cards

So having been given a list of over 400 products currently listed on the site I had to turn them into something we could ask people to sort. Traditionally the cards for sorting are written out on index cards, but I did not fancy that with a list of over 400, so instead used mail merge to set them up, meaning people would actually be able to read what was written on each card. This also allowed me to add a tiny code to the bottom right hand corner of each card so I could trace their origins later.

While waiting for the list of products to be produced I had been busy booking rooms and people to do the sessions. With no real access to our customers I started with people who work here. Although we are a sports equipment and clothing supplier and that is part of what attracted me to work here, not everyone is into their sport and we got a good mix of people, from the buyers who are experts in their fields to someone in finance who has not used our site.

Photo of one group sorting cards
Card sorting in action

The thing about card sorting is, it can be quite fun. Everyone can join in and people cannot help but discuss the products as they sort them which is the information I was really looking for. It can even get quite heated! Luckily no one came to blows in any of my sessions.

In the end I ran 14 sessions with people across the company. I probably did not need to run quite so many, but it is a really good way to meet people and give them a tiny taste of UX. If people associate me with the fun they had card sorting, I hope it means they will be more willing to talk to me later when I need their expertise for my next project.

I also got to run two sessions with external people. These were people who worked in the same block of offices as us. Some used the site a lot while others did not really know us. What was interesting here, was that while they might use the site for their particular sport they rarely looked at other parts of the site so tended to have no idea what else we sell. This gave us some really good results as they were not trying to fit products into our current navigation, while some of our internal people found it really hard to get away from the navigation and words we use within the business on a day to day basis.

Photo of cards grouped
Cards sorted

I ran two types of session - open and closed. This allowed us to first see what people would do with the cards and once they had grouped them what would they call them. The closed sort then allowed us to see if people would respond to titles we gave them and if they would change or add to them.

All this has given me a much better idea of how people think of our products and how they approach looking for things. My next task, using all this information, is to create a new navigation system which we will be able to test. Hopefully we will be able to create something which is clearer for all our customers and not just the experts.