All About Website Usability Blog – Holly Phillips

Card-sorting tool for remote team brainstorming
December 21, 2009, 4:13 am
Filed under: usability basics

Most of us at one point or another in our careers have been involved in team projects that used a brainstorming / affinity diagram / clustering approach to attack a problem.  The typical process is to get everyone in a room, have everyone write their ideas on individual yellow post-it notes, then stick them on the wall and have the teammembers group and re-group the post-its until they end up in some mutually-agreed-upon set of groups.  This is a great technique that can work very well.

But what if you can’t get your team all in the same room?  My current team is spread out all over the world, and it’s a rare luxury to get us all physically together.  Yet we still have the same type of projects that need a team to sort through lots of items and make sense out of it all.  My solution:  Online Card Sorting.  While not a typical use for card sorting, it actually worked perfectly.

After the team did phone/webex brainstorming (capturing the issues in an Excel spreadsheet visible to everyone), we had over 200 ideas.  I then imported these issues into the online (and free!) Websort , created a new sorting project using these items, and shared the “survey” with the team over webex.  We moved each item individually into “piles” that made sense to the team, rearranged as needed, and then named the resulting piles.  Voila!  We had the equivalent of stacks of yellow post-its and team consensus without ever being in the same room (or Country, for that matter).  Certainly a lot cheaper than flying everyone in for an “old-fashioned” face-to-face meeting…




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