Card Sorting from A–Z: Part VI – How to Implement a Closed Card Sort

This is part of a series of posts which is based on a 3-hour hands-on workshop I offer on this topic. Be sure and check out the preceding posts:

Card Sorting from A–Z: Overview
Card Sorting form A-Z: Part I – Why and When
Card Sorting from A-Z: Part II – How to Prepare for a Card Sort
Card Sorting from A–Z: Part III – How to Implement an Open Card Sort
Card Sorting from A–Z: Part IV – How to Analyze Results of an Open Card Sort
Card Sorting from A–Z: Part V – How to Make Recommendations Based on Findings


Running a Closed Card Sort

Implementing a closed card sort will involve all of the same steps as the open card sort, with the addition of a set of labels which you provide for participants.  If you previously held an open card sort, these will be the labels which you discovered via your analysis.

Instructions will be slightly different, as you will be telling participants to assign each card to a labeled group, and may look something like this:


We are conducting research that will help us gain a better understanding of how our web site should be organized and make it easier to use.

Assign each of the items in the list on the left to one of the labeled folder groups on the right. If you think something doesn’t belong, you can add it to the Misc. group. You must do the exercise in one sitting. Thank you for taking the time to participate in our study.


Be sure and include a label called “Misc” or something similar so that participants can place items they aren’t sure about into that group.

Next: How to Analyze Results of a Closed Card Sort