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Card Sorting presentation from Tisch Library

by Melanie St. James on December 2nd, 2011

At our last meeting, Thom Cox, and Kate Bronstad from the Tisch library and Heather Klish from University Library Technology Services (ULTS), shared insights using card sorting to get user feedback on the redesign of the Tisch library website.


  • 1hr sessions with individual participants (so far: 5 students, 3 faculty)
  • 1 session leader, 1 note taker
  • They used 35 cards, which seemed to be a good amount. Participants didn’t feel overwhelmed, and good information came out of each session
  • For their purpose, they found “open card sort” worked better than a “closed card sort”.
  • Participants could rename labels / annotate. Cards could also be left out.
  • Warm up exercise to help them to think about it

Some of the take-aways of card sort:

  • Helps rethink “content strategy”
  • The value of card sort is to derive “User Stories”, to help discover paths through information based on different types of users.
  • Current site reflects organizational structure. Not helpful to users.
  • Users want to access resources, not a gateway to resources
  • Assumption that the search box on the site can search all content/resources

Findings we can apply to other sites. (I might be going out on a limb here, but this is in line with other studies I did)

  • Keep language simple, conversational.
  • Specialized terms don’t always resonate with users (ex: “collections”)
  • Make content scannable.
  • Simplicity, white space
  • Don’t seek full consensus. Lose being effective.

The team also conducted Ethnographic studies:

See a description of card sort here.

From → Usability

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