Activity example: Card sorting

Students at Pomona College participate in a user card sort to inform the college's website redesign. Photo by Pomona College.

Card sorting is a method used to help design or evaluate information architecture. Card sorting involves creating a set of cards that each represent a concept or item, and asking people to group the cards in a way that makes sense to them. In the context of data user groups, card sorting is a good way to get your group to weigh in on a complex set of information and to make meetings interactive and collaborative.

In Pittsburgh, WPRDC used card sorting to inform which features were most important to include on a new web dashboard. Rather than asking for a show of hands or taking a survey — which generally do not lead to group conversations — WPRDC staff wrote out all the possible features on index cards and asked meeting participants to sort them based on importance. Participants were teamed up in groups of four or five, and collectively they sorted the cards into three categories: "Essential," "Nice to have", and "Not as important." That helped the WPRDC team understand which features to tackle first, and which to tackle later. WPRDC included the card sorting results in their action roadmap.

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