A Card Sorts Tutorial

By Gordon Rugg

Card sorts aren’t as widely known as they should be. They’re a neat, efficient method for finding out about how people categorise their world. They also make it possible to investigate topics that are hard to describe in words, which is particularly useful when you’re investigating perceptions of visual items such as web pages and physical artefacts.

This article is an introductory tutorial; there are links to further reading in the notes at the end. If you’re encountering problems when using interviews or questionnaires or focus groups, then you might find that using card sorts will give you new insights. Card sorts are popular with research participants and with novice researchers, because the procedures are easy to grasp; for experienced researchers, card sorts are a powerful, flexible tool.

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