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Card Sorting: Pushing Users Beyond Terminology Matches

A very useful article by Jakob Nielsen. His main point in this article is that we need to be wary of how we present usability activities like card sorting to users. If we are not careful, we may be priming them towards an option rather than allowing them to think through the different options. Jakob Nielsen explains his theory by way of an card-sorting exercise. Go ahead and read it.

Measuring the Success Of a Classification System

Iain Barker has written an insightful article on using card sorts to evaluate and measure the effectiveness of the top level navigation in websites.

UXPod: Card sorting with Donna Maurer

In his popular UX podcast series, Gerry Gaffney talks (mp3) with Donna Maurer on Card Sorting.

xSort: Card sorting, the mac way

xSort is a card sorting application for Mac OS X. It allows you to easily define a new card sorting problem, perform several sessions with multiple participants, and finally analyze the results (using multiple criteria) and generate printable reports. [via usablehelp]

The Web, Information Architecture, and Interaction Design

Jonathan Korman of Cooper Designs writes about the differences in interaction design (IxD) and information architecture (IA):
"IA calls for exercises like card sorts, usability testing for category labels, hierarchical structure diagramming, and so forth. IxD calls for exercises like workflow analysis, usage scenarios, wireframed walkthroughs, and so on. The work done, and the skills needed to do it, differ considerably between the two. Just as few people can fully master the skills of both graphic design and IA, few people will master the skills of both IA and IxD. It serves both organizations and practitioners for people to specialize."

Learner Experience Design (LXD)?

It is interesting to note the rise of "design research" as it is used today in large scale website development. There were only a handful of design research methods a few years ago: card sorting, scenarios, and personas were the traditional tools of the trade. But since the transformation (mind, body, and soul) of web design to experience design, new methods have started to emerge on a frequent basis. Mike Kuniavsky's Observing the User Experience and Brenda Laurel's (editor) http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0262122634?v=glance" target="_blank">Design Research are two prominent books charting this trend. Also, IDEO's Method Cards offer 51 different methods to gather and analyze user experience data. The need for design research seems quite obvious: work and life have become complex; we need holistic methods to understand the changing relationships before designing anything. Nathan Shedroff offers a glimpse of how holistic one needs to get in designing experiences.

I sense a similar shift in e-learning design: from instructional design to learner experience design (LXD). If this too is going to be a mind, body, and soul shift, then we are need to be more holistic. We need to look beyond learner characteristics and learning objectives. We need our own set of learner experience methods to help us understand the complexities of learning, working, and decision making in the real world. I'll be talking on this very topic at the e-Agenda 2004 forum on 25-26 March. I would love to gather some feedback, experiences, opinions from you on this subject. You can use the comment feature here or e-mail me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Boxes and Arrows: Consolidated Assessment:

Boxes and Arrows: Consolidated Assessment
A user-research approach which integrates our best tools into a single session... This approach works best with sites that involve goal-driven users who come to a site with a purpose. They have an idea of what they are looking for, so it is an example of known item or known task based site usage. That includes sites built around scenarios and activities rather than simple document retrieval (for which pure card sorting is well suited). And to achieve these pre-specified goals, the user has to complete some specific tasks that are more involved than simple document retrieval. We're not talking about finding articles, but going through a set of steps to complete a task.

Gerry McGovern: Information architecture: using card sorting for web classification design

Gerry McGovern: Using card sorting for web classification design
Card sorting is an excellent approach to help you choose your classifications. It can help shortcut long, tedious and often fruitless debate. It delivers classifications that people would actually choose, not what they say they would choose. Because it's fast and easy to do, you can get a wide range of feedback into your classification design.
Also, check out Step Two Design's Information design using card sorting

Column Two: Area Health Service project

Column Two: Area Health Service project
James Robertson at Column Two is maintaining a dairy on his work on an Intranet design project for a government agency. He details the requirements gathering process--from card sorting to stakeholder interviews--and lists some interesting findings. On the meta-level I find his dairy a good experiment on how blogs can be used in projects.

Intranet Journal: Information Design Using

Intranet Journal: Information Design Using Card Sorting
The difficulty in organizing the content stems from a lack of knowledge about how real users make use of this information. Without this, any exercise in information design is a purely theoretical one. A card sorting session can go a long way towards resolving this problem.

Web Techniques: Effective Info Architecture

Web Techniques: Effective Info Architecture
There are techniques and people who can help you become a better information architect. You're about to learn the techniques; your users are the people who can help you. Through techniques such as personas, card sorting, and pen and paper testing you stay close to your users and should have a good idea of how to design for them.

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