How to use Web Sort (Text Version)

Below is the text version for the "How to use Web Sort" video.

(Opening screen shows a window with two frames. The left frame contains a list of unsorted content labels. The larger right frame is blank. A small window appears on top with a brief introduction and instructions.)

Web Sort is an online tool that is used for conducting remote card sorts. Card sorting is a usability activity that helps you understand how your users intuitively organize and label your site's content. Generally, card sorting is used to inform the decisions that you make when developing the structure and labels, or information architecture, for a Web site.

The first step in conducting a card sort is to identify approximately 30-50 "pieces" of content from across your site and use them to create a series of card "labels."

Then you send a link out to your target audience and ask them to sort the items into groups that make sense to them. Here's what your study participants would see when they click on your link.

(Opening screen is displayed. Presenter closes small window containing introduction and instructions.)

Participants will drag each item into the center content area and create a series of groups. They are then encouraged to label those groups.

(Presenter selects content pieces in the left frame and drags them to the blank right frame, stacking some into groups that can be named.)

When your data collection is complete, you can begin the analysis.

(Screen transitions to a tabbed window displaying the Tree Graph view under the "Results" tab.)  

Web Sort offers several reports, which makes the analysis process considerably easier and more time-efficient.Although this tool can't generate your new site structure for you automatically, the reporting features will help you decide how to structure and label your content so that it makes sense to your users.

These are the results of a card sorting study that we did with the Industrial Technologies Program. Let's start by looking at this tree diagram. The tree diagram is based on cluster analysis, and shows you how closely related each of the cards are to the other cards—so, if participants consistently placed two cards into the same category, regardless of what that category was called, those cards would be closely related in the tree diagram. From this report, for example, I can see that our users consistently grouped research topics together. I can also see that they consistently grouped deployment topics together. In addition, I see some outliers like this one—"Prototype of a super-efficient boiler"—which tell me that this item probably belongs in several different categories.

Now let's look at the category summaries report.

(Presenter selects Categories Summaries report option from a report drop-down menu at the top. Screen shows a table listing category labels provided by the user and numerical data for each label.)

This report shows a list of all the category labels that participants used in conducting their card sorts.I might conclude by looking at this that, for example, that "case studies" would be a good label for me to use when referring to success story information.

I can also see from this particular report that people are organizing information topically, for example, "audits and assessments," but some people are also organizing it by industry, for example up here, "aluminum industry."So I might conclude that it's important to give people multiple ways to access the information on my site—both topically and by industry.

(Presenter clicks on drop-down menu displaying report options.)

Web Sort offers other reports as well, including categories by items, and items by items, so that you can get other views of your data. In addition, it allows you to filter your data so that you can look for trends in particular audience groups.

When you're ready to do a remote card sort study for your site, please contact the EERE's Web Usability Coordinator and we'll get you started on your way.