Optimal Workshop
OptimalSort : Card sorting for IA development


Online Card Sorting Software

A card sort is a quick and easy way to find out how people think your content should be organised. It's a useful approach for designing information architecture, workflows, menu structure or website navigation paths.

Now we've made card sorting even easier with OptimalSort - the online card sorting tool preferred by information architects, web designers and content writers the world over. OptimalSort gives you the user insights you need to make informed information architecture decisions.

Sounds like what you're looking for?

Try a demo as a participant See the results as a UX researcher Get started today!

Or read on to find out more

Easy as 1,2,3

"Card sorting is a great, reliable, inexpensive method for finding patterns in how users would expect to find content or functionality." – Donna Spencer, Maadmob Inc.

Defining an Information Architecture

If you have a medium to large website, intranet, online shop or knowledge base then you will benefit from using OptimalSort. Card sorting will help you to understand the product groups or categories that customers would sort items into and thus where they'd expect to find them in your navigation menu structure.

Getting started with OptimalSort is really easy. Compared with traditional card sorting methods (using index cards and lots of data entry), you'll save many hours in both preparation and analysis time.

1. Input your cards
Input your cards

Your “cards” are the content items from your website or intranet that you'd like to study. We'll ask people to sort these cards into groups to help you understand your users' mental models.

2. Configure your survey
Confirgure your survey

Configure any options and questions you'd like to ask before or after the card sort. These questions allow you to segment your results by demographic, psychographic or department, for example.

3. Recruit participants
Recruit participants

We give you a unique study link that you can email to your users and customers, tweet to the world, or give to a participant recruitment agent or consultant.

All systems are Go

"This is a very cool tool. Yes, almost Fun!" – OptimalSort study participant

Remote Card Sorting

Your study participants will complete a card sorting activity online using their own computer. They will be asked to organize your “cards” into groups that, for them, make sense and belong together.

Great for gathering quantitative results. If you have a hunch of your own or as a result of qualitative tests then remote and unmoderated user testing is a great way to back it up with some numbers.

Welcome to OptimalSort

Here is an example open card sort (participants create groups for the cards). You can also perform a closed card sort (where you predefine the groups) if you'd like to.

Moderated Card Sorting

Although you can of course observe and facilitate a moderated card sort around a computer screen we realize it isn't always ideal.

There are two other options for how to moderate a card sort with OptimalSort:

  • Print out your cards from OptimalSort's Printable PDF cards and let your participants sort the paper cards offline into piles on a table. Afterwards you can use a barcode scanner to quickly enter the data back in OptimalSort to use our advanced analysis tools!
  • OptimalSort on iPad

Great for gathering qualitative results. This is where you get insight into how people feel about what they're doing or saying in the study.

Read more about remote vs moderated card sorting

Perhaps you'd like to try an OptimalSort card sort for yourself?

Try a demo as a participant

Beautifully Insightful Results

"We couldn't be more thrilled with the results we're seeing!" – Misty McLaughlign, Convio Inc.

Open & Closed Card Sort Analysis

The most comprehensive, beautiful and insightful card sort results available anywhere.

Similarity Matrix

You can view the OptimalSort similarity matrix in a web browser or download it as a spreadsheet. The similarity matrix clusters together the strongest card groups along the diagonal edge and features mouse hover effects to assist with readability.

Example Similarity Matrix


On its own, the similarity matrix won't tell you how to design an effective information architecture for your site. Our dendrogram visualizations may give you some clarity and the confidence to make informed decisions.

OptimalSort features two Dendrograms:
D1 Actual Agreement: shows actual clusters from actual results.
D2 Best Merge: attempts to create ideal clusters based on imperfect results (example below).

Example Best Merge Dendrogram of Card Sort Results

Participant-Centric Analysis (PCA)

Find the top three most acceptable but substantially different submissions by participants in your card sort as tested against the other participant submissions. Quickly see the different popular grouping strategies and to use this information to inform your final information architecture.

Example Participant Centric Analysis

Downloadable Results

Your OptimalSort results will be available for download in a variety of useful formats:

  • Analysis Spreadsheet: Based on the work of Donna Spencer, OptimalSort's Analysis Spreadsheet allows you to perform advanced open card sort analysis.
  • SynCaps Data: Export your data for use with the SynCaps Cluster Analysis Software
  • Raw Data: The raw data from your card sort is available in comma separated value (CSV) format for use with most spreadsheet applications, database systems and statistical packages.

Share your results

See the results as a UX researcher

Once the results are in you can share them with co-workers, clients or friends!