Card Sorting: Engaging and Supporting Clients the Fun Way

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Web Design

Web design is being creative with color, typography and code, but also with engaging, energizing and supporting clients in the creation of their website.

Every day another new shiny object is created to help us be more efficient in web design and the design process, like project management programs and wireframe prototype tools.  Unfortunately, it usually involves learning yet another program, buying some software or a monthly subscription.  Then it’s a matter of getting everyone involved in a certain task on board.  As long as everyone who needs to learn a new improved way of doing things enjoys “computer work,” it will not be much of a problem.  If it involves the web design process and clients, then the process of getting the client on board to use something that you may think is new and fun, may for them be tortuous, tedious and boring.  Even if clients do not have to actually learn how to use a new program (which they will never ever use again), they will probably have to sit through some sort of demonstration and be a passive observer in front of a screen, being shown, for example, what their navigation system could look like or the bare bones structure of their new website.

What if we could involve clients in something hands on, something that could be a little fun, something that does not require learning a new program on the computer, or watching someone else manipulate objects on a screen?

Card sorting would be one of these ways.  The “cards” are not something you manipulate on a computer screen, but Post-it Notes manipulated on a large piece of paper or a white board.

When organizing navigation on a website, each Post-it Note has the name of a page that will be on the website.  These may be already written on the Post-it Notes ahead of time, or those involved could be asked to take about 5 minutes and write on the notes names of pages they think need to be on the website.

Then, the Post-It Notes are “sorted” into groups which will eventually become the navigation for the website. 

Card sorting is nothing new and has been used for many years by web designers to help clients visualize, wrangle with and think about the best way to organize navigation for their website.  It involves something that is hands-on and active, encourages talking about navigation and even seeing the navigation system through the eyes of a website visitor.  Everyone has a chance to participate and give an opinion and experiment with different combinations.  It brings about a certain energy to complete a task that is, let’s face it, sometimes tedious.  Through the card sorting process, almost like magic, the chaos of brightly colored pieces of paper form themselves into organized and thought-through hierarchies of information, or what is now the site navigation system.

Web design is being creative with color, typography and code, but also with engaging, energizing and supporting clients in the creation of their website.

 

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