Thursday, October 19, 2006

Card Sorting and Usability Testing - Part One

In the past couple of weeks, I've taken part in two practical exercises which have really hit home the importance of involving real users to improve the information architecture and usability of a website - and how the two are linked.

The 1st was a Card Sorting exercise while at a UPANZ seminar on Information Architecture by David Pomeroy, and the 2nd was sitting in on some Usability Testing sessions run by Optimal Usability. I'll cover Card Sorting today and the Usability Testing later.

There is plenty written about cart sorting in IA books and websites but I had never read a good definitive article, nor had the chance to take part in it. Although the exercise was really simple my take on it is that it is an exercise using a series of cards, each labelled with a piece of content that make sense to particpants (users). It would be great when creating a site map and helps identify the following:

  1. How users see the information
  2. How different groups of users react to the content
  3. How many categories of information are there
  4. What the categories should be called

I think it is an easy exercise to sell to clients because it is Simple (Hey - if I can do it... it must be), Cheap, Quick and involves real live users.

Since then, I've looked for good articles and this is one of the best on the Boxes and Arrows site. Card sorting: a definitive guide

I'd love to hear others thoughts or experiences...


David Pomeroy said...

Hi, David Pomeroy here. I just wanted to say I'm thrilled to be on your blog - glad that you found the card sorting exercise enjoyable / easy to understand.

Card sorting is definitely an easy sell, and a useful tool in website design (UCD).

If you have further information architecture questions feel free to drop me an email. (