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A Brief Introduction to Card Sorting William Hudson

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1 A Brief Introduction to Card Sorting William Hudson

2 Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 2 Benefits  Why sort?  To better understand a problem and users’ view of it  Source of concepts, terminology and organisation  How is it done?  Participants given objects, photos, cards or similar and asked to group them  What are the results?  Qualitative: concepts, terminology, understanding  Quantitative: how frequently items are grouped together; how groupings compare with a reference set  What methods can be used?  Face-to-face: ‘in-depth’ individuals sessions, pair sorting with observer, larger sessions with emphasis on feedback  Online (Websort.net): much larger sample sizes possible, using images or words (little qualitative information though)

3 Card Sorting in UCD  Card sorting has wide application in User-Centred Design, answering questions such as:  How do users think about this problem?  What words do they use?  Are menu items or form fields grouped the way users expect?  Is there anything we’ve forgotten?  Paper-based sorting in particular can be very helpful  No technological barriers  Participants can write comments on cards, change terms, create new items or groups (good qualitative results)  Cards can appear in more than one group (with our latest analysis software) Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 3

4 Solution Card Sorting in UCD Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 4 Problem User Research Design Implementation Open Sorts Pictures, Cards Open & Closed Sorts Cards Closed Sorts Cards, Online

5 Open versus Closed Sorts  Open sorts  No predetermined groups (although guidance may be given to participants)  Participants decide on number of groups and their names  Good for research and early design  Closed sorts  Groups provided to recipients  Some tools (Websort.net & SynCaps, for example) allow new groups to be added  Hybrid sorts (semi-open/semi-closed)  Participants given basic set of items and groups but may add others  Few tools support this well (SynCaps V2 does) Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 5

6 6 Computer-Aided Paper Sorting (Caps) Sample Item Card with Quality of Fit (QOF) [4 to a sheet, pre-perforated]

7 Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 7 Computer-Aided Paper Sorting (Caps) Sample Adhesive Label (no QOF) [14 to a sheet]

8 Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 8 Computer-Aided Paper Sorting (Caps) Happy researchers with bar code scanner!

9 Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 9 Cluster Analysis  Cluster analysis determines most common groupings  Based on simple ‘proximity matrix’  Can be done by hand or just by viewing spreadsheet for small projects (but is time-consuming!) Chardonnay Riesling Muscat Pinot Grigio White Zinfandel Beaujolais Cabernet Sauvignon Claret Merlot Syrah Cava Champagne Sample Card Sort Items Grouped by a Participant

10 Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 10 Proximity Matrix for Single Participant

11 Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 11 Proximity Matrix for All Participants

12 Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 12 SynCaps Dendrogram

13 SynCaps Software  All versions of SynCaps (Windows application)  Quality of fit (optional)  Non-Latin alphabets (Greek and Cyrillic, for example)  Dendrogram  Data entry with bar code reader or via keyboard  Spreadsheet output files for further analysis by participant, item and proximity matrix  SynCaps V2 adds  ‘Ad hoc’ items (users can make these up during a sort)  Items can appear in multiple groups  Similar items or groups can be merged  Pairs map chart based on proximity matrix  Items x Groups chart Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 13

14 Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 14 Quality of Fit Quality of Fit Measure (QOF)

15 Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 15 Effect of Quality of Fit on Dendrogram Without QOF, Beaujolais has quite a strong relationship with the other red wines Average QOF for each item (from SynCaps) With QOF, Cabernet Sauvignon and Claret are now strongest as the group was named “full-bodied reds”. The Beaujolais relationship is much weaker

16 Non-Latin Alphabets (SynCaps V1 & V2) Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 16 Wines Card Sort in Cyrillic

17 Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 17 Alignment (SynCaps V1 & V2)  It is possible to calculate how much each participant’s proximity matrix varies from:  The average across all participants  A reference set of results (called an “expert” set in SynCaps)  The results is an alignment percentage for each, called  %AveAlign: alignment with participant average  %ExpertAlign: alignment with reference set

18 Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 18 Alignment Chart (using Microsoft Excel)

19 Pairs Map (SynCaps V2) Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 19 Awkward Films Example Outer = %AveAlign Inner = %ExpertAlign

20 Pairs Map (SynCaps V2) Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 20 Steps = Good Boxes = Bad

21 Pairs Map (SynCaps V2) Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 21 Theoretically Perfect Example

22 Items x Groups Chart (SynCaps V2) Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 22 Items x Groups with Cell Popup

23 Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 23 Caps Cards  Caps cards  Produced with Microsoft Word mail merge templates (free download from Syntagm web site)  Laser or inkjet printed  Pre-perforated A4 or US Letter sheets  Can be bought from any supplier (we can supply the A4 version more cheaply than most other European sources)  Bar code reader  Relatively inexpensive (about GBP £75/EUR €85; much cheaper in North America)  We supply a suitable scanner in Europe  Not essential, but quick – keyboard can be used instead (keyboard needed for ad hoc items and group names)

24 More Information  See website for further details and instructions  or  Mail merge instructions and templates for producing cards and labels are free  SynCaps software is free to try for 14 days  Buy cards or bar code scanners for delivery in Europe (www.syntagm.co.uk/design/cardsortshop.shtml)www.syntagm.co.uk/design/cardsortshop.shtml  Card sorting courses  Boston, 6 April 2009 (half day,  London, 21 April 2009 (full day,  Courses can also be run within organisations Copyright (c) 2009 Syntagm Ltd 24


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