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Design intranet navigation with card sorting

Wednesday, March 02, 2005  

To design intranet navigation, find out users' mental model of potential content by running card sorting tests. Does an expense report form belong under HR? Finance? or a forms category? You'll only know the right answer after card sorting. Here's how:

  • Make an index card for every piece of content. Limit it to 100 cards.
  • Run 4 or 5 sessions with 3 or 4 users each.
  • Ask them to group the cards in piles of related content. Piles can be as small or large as they want. If they want, they can also group the groups.
  • When they're done, review each group for anomalies. Then ask them to suggest a label for each group.
  • Collate the results to inform your navigation design.

Combine card sorting with your knowledge of business objectives, user goals and usability best practices to design intuitive navigation for your intranet. Make sure to test your final navigation design with a paper prototyping session.

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About the Author

I'm Chris McGrath, an intranet consultant in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I've been working on intranets since 1997, and on plain ol' web sites for even longer. I run One Intranets, the firm that co-created ThoughtFarmer -- an enterprise collaboration platform for Windows-based intranets.