Card sorting data analysis - Qualitative & quantitative ways

Card sorting data analysis

Card sorting is a method used to help design or evaluate the information architecture of a site. In a card sorting session, participants organize topics into categories that make sense to them and they may also help you label these groups. To conduct a card sort, you can use actual cards, pieces of paper, or one of several online card-sorting software tools. Card sorting helps us gain valuable insight about the structure of data. Know more 

There are some ways which UX researchers or designers can use to analyse the card sorting data and bring clear insights which helps in decision making. 

Card Sorting Data Analysis

Qualitative analysis

While conducting the card sorting activity in-person or remotely using moderated sessions, the notes & observation is considered as qualitative data. Qualitative analysis is helpful in understanding the schema of target participants and their thinking process. This gives high level idea about the trends & themes emerging from the sessions, which should be supported with quantitive data to bring clear insights. Hot picks in this kind of analysis is the new categories created by participants, top confusing cards, terminology issues, similar groups or card categories etc.

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Quantitative analysis

1. Using spreadsheet (frequency & percentage)

Create a spreadsheet, listing the cards in the rows and the categories in the columns. From card sort’s results, determine how participants grouped the cards into the categories, then add the raw counts to the spreadsheet. Later replace the raw counts with percentages. Each percentage is the number of participants who sorted certain cards into a particular group divided by the total number of participants. Once you’ve calculated the percentages, keep only the percentages that are substantial enough to take into serious consideration. 

2. Using online tool

If you are using any online card sorting tools, they provide initial level analysis which are helpful in looking the data from a different perspective. Some of the most common type of analysis are as below:

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Similarity Matrix: The similarity matrix is a simple representation of pair combinations, intended to give you a quick insight into the cards your participants paired together in the same group the most often.  Ref

Similarity matrix card sorting

OptimalSort’s Similarity Matrix 

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Dendograms: A dendrogram is a diagram that shows the hierarchical relationship between objects. It is most commonly created as an output from hierarchical clustering.  Ref

Dendograms card sorting

AAM Dendrogram in OptimalSort

Check top Card sorting tools 


Card Sorting - Interaction Design foundation 

Dancing with the Cards: Quick-and-Dirty Analysis of Card-Sorting Data

The Pros and Cons of Card Sorting in UX Research

What is Information Architecture

7 best card sorting tool

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