Card sorting is a simple user-centered technique for obtaining insight into the structure of a site. But is it really so simple? This definitive guide to card sorting includes detailed instructions on how to execute and analyze a sort, plus helpful hints to improve your sorts. It is the first in a series of articles about card sorting.

“Observe your users” — a maxim most user experience professionals subscribe to. But how do you “observe?” When testing websites, generating hypotheses about user behavior can help inform the observation process, structure data collection and analysis, and organize findings.

The web is awash with sterile design solutions. IBM, Dell, Microsoft, and countless others are virtually indistinguishable from each other. Though one might say this makes browsing easier by virtue of a standardized interface, in reality such sites create mundane experiences for their users and fail to make a positive connection with their audience.

Semiotics teaches us as designers that our work has no meaning outside the complex set of factors that define it. The deeper our understanding and awareness of these factors, the better our control over the success of the work products we create.

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