User Testing | Lesson #29
Test Your Assumptions With a Card Game
Learn a quick and easy way to find out how users perceive your website plan.
Getting set up with materials
You'll need a set of index cards or papers cut to about index-card size. You will also need a few Sharpie markers and a table with plenty of open space. Be prepared to spread out.
- Find someone unfamiliar with your project to spend a few minutes — really, like five minutes — to help test your assumptions.
- Write facets of an idea or product onto each card. Ideally you should have 30–40 cards like “voyages,” “hotels” and “car rental.”
- Shuffle the cards. Providing them in order defeats the purpose.
- Then ask your volunteer to organize cards as they see fit.
Actually, that last step comes in two varieties: open and closed.
Open sorting: The first type, you simply have your tester organize cards into categories of their own creation. The results of this open-ended exercise will challenge may surprise you.
Closed sorting: In this exercise, you ask your testers to sort cards into the categories you provide. This helps balance a pre-defined website structure with users' expectations.
For example, one of our clients, a travel company, wanted to have travel packages, charters, about and lifestyle as their site's top-level navigation items. Other pages included testimonials, spa, legal disclaimer, etc. We suspected many people would want to know about travel arrangements — specifically, transportation and guides. Under which nav item would they look?
We used closed card sorting to find out. Most of our test subjects said "charters." A few asked, "why not just transportation?"
Open or closed, card sorting helps you understand your site from users' points of view. This gives you a good idea of how to organize your navigation in a natural way.
About the instructor
Ben Gremillion is a Design Writer at ZURB. He started his career in newspaper and magazine design, saw a digital future, and learned HTML in short order. He facilitates the ZURB training courses.
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