Sunday, December 02, 2007

Card Sorting: A Tool to Reorganize Information-Rich Web Sites

Using card sorting to improve site usability ...

"If your company designed an information-rich Web site such as an intranet or content portal a few years ago, chances are the site could be bursting at the seams. The types of information or messages that get put on the Web site have likely changed and increased in number. Also, the deployment of content management systems may have opened up content creation to a wide team of content providers. Initially, the information hierarchy, or organization, developed for the site might have accommodated the additional content, but content can quickly outgrow the existing structure as new initiatives and information needs are added. The result is a Web site that is overcrowded with new information organized in an old way. Frequently, users of these sites will complain that the site is out of date, and information they need is hard to find.

Improving the search capability on the site is one way to help visitors find the information they need. Reviewing search logs, improving search engine relevancy and configuring narrowing and filtering options on the search results page can help those visitors who search for keywords that they know. However, the information hierarchy or table of contents of the site is also important. First, some visitors don’t necessarily know exactly what they are looking for and rely on the information hierarchy to guide them. Second, the mere presence of the information hierarchy can help orient all users to the content and purpose on the site.

Organizing all of the new content into an intuitive information hierarchy can be a daunting task. Potentially, hundreds or thousands of pages need to be organized and labeled in such a way that different types of people can find information. Fortunately, several user-centered design activities can help this process. Of these activities, card sorting is an appealing option."    (Continued via TMCnet)    [Usability Resources]

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