I have conducted a few open cardsorting sessions these past weeks. I saw something happen that I haven't seen happening in a cardsorting before and I would like to know how to best analyse these results.

Here is the case:

  • Some respondents made groups, like the assignment dictated.
  • Other respondents made hierarchical trees, which I usually group with names of the parents. (e.g. Cymbal and Drum both are children of the drumkit in the tree made by the user, I would group Cymbal and Drum under the group 'drumkit' in my analysis).
  • The third type of respondent made a single linear process with a few side processes. So they based their group on one main (linear) task they wanted to complete, with additional 'windows' to be used for certain steps in this process.

The last group gets my original way of analysing messed up. I can draw up a few conclusions of course, for example that the system should be task oriented. However, I don't see a way of comparing these with the other two groups of results.

Has anyone seen this before, and/or does anyone have a suggestion on how I could compare this with my other results?


Maybe the participant did not understood the assignment. If that's the case I'm not sure you want to take any conclusions from it.

If you observed a large number of participants doing this, why not do a follow-up session with them, and try to understand their point of view?

That way, you'll understand if they though the assignment was something else, or they have a valid point of view that deserves further investigation.

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