I've invited potential users to come in and look at our portal. These people only know what we do, but have never seen the UI of our portal. We will tell them about what we do and after that we can show them visuals of our portal, but not a working demo yet. I want to let them do some card sorting to help with the information flow and architecture.


I've asked a more general question about it here.


Should potential users do card sorting before or after seeing the portal for the first time?

Doing the card sorting after might cloud their vision about the cards, but doing the card sorting before might not give the potential users enough context on what they are doing.

2 Answers 2


It depends what you want to discover from your card sort.

If you're trying to find a general users priorities for 'product type x' then you should conduct the sort before they see your specific product so that you get a non-biased answer.

If you're trying to evaluate features in your specific product then you should conduct the sort after the user has had a chance to see how the product works.

Alternatively you could conduct the same sort before and after the user sees your product to see how their opinions/priorities might have changed.


Usually, but not always, we want to create an information architecture that is aligned with the existing mental model of potential users. In this case it has to be done before, because your visuals will bias them towards the designer's mental model.

  • 1
    💯 The sorting exercise is all about revealing how people familiar with the domain would organize it's main concepts and the associated workflows. If that conflicts with your product then your product is probably organized incorrectly. Jul 3, 2017 at 16:05

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