New article: card sorting

The November issue of STC Intercom magazine focuses on usability, and I’m happy to announce my featured article, Card Sorting: An Inexpensive and Practical Usability Technique.

If you’re designing a system to organize content, you can either come up with your own labeling system — which may or may not be shared by others — or you can talk to the actual users of the system and learn how they perceive its content. There are many methods of gathering this user data, but they can often be both time-consuming and costly. Fortunately, there’s hope: one method that is generally inexpensive, quick, and easy is card sorting.

If you’re an STC member you can download the article from Intercom Online. Alternatively, you can download the article from the new Articles & Papers section of my professional site.


  1. hey joshua, i read your article on card sorting (the PDF). its quite well written. i have a comment/suggestion. it would have helped to explain the process which you have very systematically presented step wise, with examples to show how topics get grouped. for instance, taking an example of a ‘topic’ - like objects or articles in a house, and outside it.
    just by the way, there is a reverse card sort technique that is also done often while gathering user data.

  2. Thanks for your feedback, Ashwini. I can understand your suggestion for a step by step explanation of the card sort arctivity. The point of the article was to be as practical as possible without going into too much detail. However, the length of the article was restrictive, as is often the case with magazine articles, so I don’t think I could have done much more even if wanted to.

    Also, my understanding is that “reverse card sorting” is just another name for “closed card sorting” which I mentioned in the article. If you can point to anything that describes otherwise, please let me know.

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