Remember what users want from your website!

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What do users want from your digital experience?

We used the Hotjar user experience tool to place a poll on our homepage to find out what users want from the page. We then compared this with what was actually on the page. The Venn diagram above shows how so much of what was on the homepage didn’t match what users want from the page.

You might think that some of these are so obvious that nobody in their right mind would not put them on the homepage. Don’t assume anything. This site is mobile responsive and the desktop team decided to hide the account login details for mobile users without informing anyone. They wanted to push such users to download the app. What they hadn’t considered though was that the app didn’t allow users to amend their account details or validate personal details as part of know your customer (KYC). This meant users were being informed in the app to logon to the website to complete KYC but couldn’t complete this task as the login box was hidden. This is what happens when people work in silos and it’s often down to conversion optimisers to break these down.

Find out what they want!

So, what do users want from your website or app? Well, they normally come to your site to complete a task and if we don’t understand these tasks then we are going to struggle to deliver what they are looking for. That’s why it’s important to gather user feedback and there are plenty of online voice of customer tools that allow you to do this very easily.

Remote usability research tools can also be used to explore what is missing from a page. Use follow-up questions to ask participants what was missing from the page or user journey. Also look at real user journeys using your web analytics tool to identify if a large number of visitors are navigating to your About Us page or other non-transactional pages. This may indicate there is insufficient information on your landing pages about your reputation and what you offer.

User experience tools which record real users navigating on your site are also very useful. Schedule time to regularly watch browser recordings to see if users are finding your site intuitive or not. Are they clicking on assets that are not clickable, but should be? Don’t assume you know what users want from your site or app. Click heat maps can also be useful in identifying where users click and if they are trying to click on an asset that is not clickable.

Conversion Optimisation Strategy & Poker

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Conversion Optimisation Strategy:

Poker is a game of strategy and just like conversion optimisation unless you have a clear strategy you are sure to lose.

When I was optimising a major poker website and app I decided I needed to get under the skin of the average player. One of the ways I did this was by learning to play poker and joining competitor sites to compare the user experience. As I became more experienced at the game, I realised that there are many lessons that can be applied to conversion optimisation strategy.

Understand the basic rules:

If you don’t know the hand rankings for poker you are going to make a lot of bad decisions and lose money quickly.

Similarly for conversion optimisation strategy you need to understand basic web conventions and have a clear process for optimisation and testing. This will help ensure that you can spot obvious problems with your site and you have a systematic approach to improving the performance of your sites. This will avoid random testing and improve your chances of making the best decisions to increase conversion. If you want to read up on this subject check out my post on the optimisation process and some awesome books to read.

Image of PokerStars.com new player tutorial

Source: PokerStars

Don’t be overly aggressive with your approach:

Many good poker players can be very aggressive at times. This can unsettle their opponents. However, it can also put off novice players and make them abandon the game.

With conversion optimisation strategy you need to assume that most new visitors are unaware of your brand. If you are overly aggressive you may win over some brave souls, but you will probably scare off the majority of your new customers. People don’t like feeling they are being pushed into making a snap decision. Pop-ups are almost universally employed on poker websites in an attempt to get visitors to take action. But these can often just annoy visitors. Conversion should be a pleasurable experience for the visitor and we should avoid over reliance on any single approach.

ClubWPT Cruise imageSource: ClubWPT

Players are emotional creatures:

To make the best decisions, it is essential to be calm, logical and to consider the probabilities of hand strength and the likelihood of other cards being revealed at each stage of the game. However, in reality many players struggle with the maths and let their emotions drive their decision making.

The behaviour of website visitors is no different to poker players. Visitors are heavily influenced by their emotional state, environment and what they think other people are doing. This all influences how they interpret content and functionality on your site. Conversion optimisation strategy should allow for the fact that most users are more concerned about potential losses than gains. Use money-back guarantees or free trials to reduce the perceived risk of customers making a poor decision.

We are generally poor at doing mental maths, so spell out bonuses or offers in simple terms so that users don’t have to work anything out. Use psychological hooks in your content to engage visitors at a non-rational level. This is often more important and influential than the purely logical reasons why we buy. This quote I recently came across sums up what we are dealing with:

“Few people are logical. Most of us are prejudiced and biased. Most of us are blighted with preconceived notions, with jealousy, suspicion, fear, envy and pride.” Dale Carnegie

Predictable reduces cognitive strain :

A good poker player changes their tactics on a regular basis to avoid being too predictable. This works because people dislike having to deal with constant and random behaviour. It creates uncertainty which humans try to avoid at all costs. It also makes people impatient and prone to making irrational decisions.

For conversion optimisation strategy it is also important to get a balance. Ensure you don’t have too many surprises on your website that may distract or disrupt the user flow. Follow standard web-conventions when appropriate and don’t distract visitors with too much content. Clutter and offering too many choices can cause cognitive strain.

Have a clear strategy and be disciplined:

To be a successful poker player you must have a game plan as otherwise you will constantly be changing your approach in response to other players. Only play when your starting hand meets certain criteria and don’t bet unless your hand is strong enough to justify it. Review the probability of getting a winning hand at each stage of the game and know when to fold.

Conversion also requires a clear strategy to formulate hypothesis and prioritise budgets according to the chances and value of success. There must to be a potential for a significant ROI for any A/B test.

Ensure you don’t waste effort on trying to improve conversion on poorly performing pages that don’t have the traffic or potential to justify the resource. Know when to cut your loses and move onto a more promising opportunity. Sometimes it is more profitable to to focus on your better performing pages that don’t require a large up-lift to give a handsome ROI. Prioritisation is key to your success as you will never have enough time or resources to test everything.

Competitor analysis can give you an advantage:

Respect your opponents as in a majority of cases at least one competitor will have a better hand than you. Take time to observe your competitors to see what you can learn. Copy and adapt loosely, but don’t replicate what your competitors do as otherwise your site will look exactly like theirs.

It is naïve to suggest you should never copy your competitors because it won’t work on your site. Sure, not everything will work, but if you are selective and use ideas in the right context they may enhance your user experience and improve conversion. But don’t assume they have done their homework and tested new designs. A/B test them before you roll out things you copy. Also look outside of your competitors for inspiration. Most new features are likely to be adopted in other sectors first before they get to your small area of the web. You should then apply A/B testing when appropriate to validate whether an idea will benefit your site.

Don’t treat all visitors the same:

There are many different kinds of poker players and to get the best result you need to understand their tactics and behaviour. Good players will adjust their behaviour accordingly.

To improve conversion you also need to segment your customers to tailor and personalise the user experience. If you treat everyone the same you can expect average conversion. Employ customer research, web analytics, and analyse your data warehouse to better understand and segment your visitors. Develop a more relevant and personalised user journey.

Use game mechanics to engage visitors:

Poker is one of the most difficult games to master. It requires a good deal of skill, an understanding of human behaviour and a large amount of luck. However, we love games and mastery is one of our strongest motivations.

As part of your conversion optimisation strategy have you considered using gamification on to improve the user experience and conversion? Why not use gamification of steps in your user journey to engage visitors and to create interest towards your conversion goals. This can be as simple as providing regular and positive feedback or prizes (e.g. badges or loyalty points) to recognise task completion and reward behaviour that leads towards your conversion goals. Make your website fun and interesting when appropriate and visitors may want to return more often.

Skypoker.com promotion image

Source: Skypoker.com

Remember the importance of the user experience:

Poker sites bombard visitors with welcome bonus offers and tournaments with big prizes for the winners. However, for the vast majority of players who won’t be making a fortune out of poker the user experience is what matters.

This means a good conversion optimisation strategy needs to be built around a strong value proposition. Use a heuristic evaluation to check how well the user journey is relevant and provides clear directional cues on interacting with the game mechanics. This should also identify if the application has minimised friction by avoiding distractions and anxiety. Urgency is also often forgotten about to nudge players to act quickly when required.

The whole user experience needs to be pleasurable and aligned with customer expectations if you want to encourage visitors to return to your site or app. This is the same for any online business and is often forgotten in the rush to get short-term sales. The danger is that too much attention is given to fancy new product features and website changes when the basic game experience may also need some attention. Fix your user experience first before trying to be persuasive or personalise your site.

Ensure challenges are realistically achievable:

Poker sites have in the past been notorious for offering bonuses that require levels of game play that are totally unrealistic for the average user to attain. Pokerstars, and 888 now offer instant release bonuses.

Other companies, such as Betfair, continue to promote offers that are highly complex and difficult to release. Making a task too difficult to achieve for your average customer creates disappointment and resentment. Ensure your conversion optimisation strategy considers what is best for customers and not just your organisation.

Winning involves luck:

Poker involves a fair amount of luck as even the strongest starting hand can turn to nothing when new cards are revealed that link to what another player has in his or her hand. Conversion also requires a reasonable amount of luck.

In terms of conversion optimisation strategy we are also poor at predicting which new designs will perform better than an existing page design or user journey. For this reason companies like Google and Netflix, who are in the mature phase of testing, often have test failure rates of 80% to 90%. Scale matters when you can’t rely on low-hanging fruit and so it is important to ramp up the number of tests you run to generate a few big wins. The more tests you run the greater the likelihood you will get lucky.

For a customer to buy at any moment in time requires that they are ready to act. If your proposition is not perceived to have the highest chance of helping them meet a current goal they are likely to go elsewhere. If a visitor gets distracted by a more urgent and pressing goal you will also probably lose them. Competitors are also constantly trying to move the goal posts in their favour so don’t be surprised if your conversion rate is in a constant state of flux.

Credit:

https://www.flaticon.com/search?word=gambling

Voice of The Customer Tools To Boost Conversions

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Do you want to use Voice of the Customer tools to get feedback from your visitors, but not sure how to go about it? I’ve outlined below a best practice guide on how to use online Voice of the Customer tools to gain insights and increase conversions. I’ve also reviewed over 15 online survey tools for you to use.

When to use Voice of the Customer tools?

Asking people questions hours, days, weeks or even months after a visit to your website is not going to deliver very accurate feedback on your customer experience. Our memories have to be reconstructed every time we recall them and as result they change on each occasion they are retrieved.

Voice of the Customer tools though allow you to gather data during the actual experience, allowing customers to express opinions and feelings when or immediately after an event occurs. This provides for much richer and accurate feedback on your site. Online survey tools can catch users in the moment when it is best to obtain feedback.

Surveymonkey.com customer satisfaction

Image Soure: Surveymonkey.com

How To Use Voice of the Customer tools?

On-line Voice of the Customer tools provide an important input into the overall conversion rate optimisation process. Online survey tools can provide valuable insights to reduce friction and help you develop hypothesis to be validated using A/B tests. Online survey tools can also help in a number of areas including:

Why
  • What are visitors looking for when they come to your site and is it meeting their expectations? Identify the main use cases – what are people trying to achieve and are they successful?
Barriers
  • What is preventing users to complete their task? Find out what is preventing visitors from completing everything they set out to do.

Missing information
  • Are visitors finding everything they need on a particular webpage? For example, audit your homepage to compare the content with what customers say they are looking for on your website. Segment the data by new and returning visitors as they may have different requirements. This can help identify unnecessary content on your homepage and highlight other information that you should consider replacing it with.
Competitors
  • Which of your competitors’ sites do your customers use? Digital marketing is a zero-sum game, if you can’t convince your visitors to buy from your website, one of your competitors may be more persuasive.
  • Voice of the Customer tools can be used to identify which competitor sites visitors are going to as their expectations will be influenced by these other sites. If your value proposition and customer experience does not compare favourably with these competitor sites you may struggle to convince visitors to convert.

Typeform.com mobile survey

Image Source: Typeform.com

Value proposition
  • What attracted new visitors to your website? Online survey tools can be used to identify what aspects of your value proposition are most appealing to new customers as this may not be the same as what you have on your website. Use this feedback to develop and test different proportion messages to see if this resonates better with customers.

Nebula by Kampyle

Image Source: Kampyle.com

Bugs
  • When your site is broken visitors can provide you with the evidence you need to fix it. Some on-line tools automate this process so that you can get screen shots and technical details sent directly to an inbox for quick and efficient resolution of problems.

Bugmuncher.com homepage

Exit surveys
  • Online survey tools are ideal for finding out why visitors leave your site. When users have decided to leave your site you have nothing to lose by asking them to provide feedback on what they thought of your site. Ask them if they found what they were looking for or what would make them return to your site.
Abandon basket
  • When someone abandons their basket this is a great opportunity to get their feedback to understand what is behind this behaviour. Has something on your site raised concerns or are they struggling to get the delivery date they require? Any feedback from these customers may help you identify issues that you can seek to resolve to improve your conversion rate. Online survey tools allow you to create a questionnaire and then you can email your customers a link to the survey to find out why the abandoned their basket.

A word of caution about Voice of the Customer tools:

Online survey tools are great, but don’t take what your visitors say literally. People are complex and we are not always fully aware of our own motivations and reasons for the decisions we may. Psychology shows us that cognitive short-cuts (e.g. stereotypes and confirmation bias) and our social networks are important drivers of our behaviour. This is why people will say one thing and do something completely different.

For this reason it is a good idea to validate insights from Voice of Customer tools by looking for supporting evidence from your web analytics, but also review session recording from user experience tools. If you have sufficient traffic you may also want to A/B or multivariate testing to measure the real impact on behaviour. Never only rely on online survey tools for informing decision making as user insights should be supported by other sources of evidence.

Over 15 Online Survey Tools Compared:

1. Bugmuncher:

Enables users to report problem & automatically sends your company screen shots with details of the browser, the operating system, the path they took & even which browser plug-ins they have installed. An ideal solution for any site that has more than its fair share of bugs to fix. Free trial available.

Price:

Plans range from $19 a month for a single user (Personal plan) to $99 for the Corporate plan with up to 5 users. For most small to medium sized companies the Start Up plan at $49 per month offers good value as it allows up to 3 users and 400 reports per month.

Bugmuncher prices page image
2. Feedbackify:

Voice of the Customer tools like Feedbackify use a fully customisable widget to deliver short online surveys for your visitors to complete. The Feedback Dashboard allows you to view answers with full context, including which page it was submitted from, your customer’s geographic location, browser, operating system, screen size etc.

Price:

Offers a Free full-featured 15 day trial. A single subscription plan costs just $19 a month.

Feedbackify price page image
3. Hotjar:

This is a great solution that offers a range of visual analytics solutions (e.g. heatmaps, session recordings, & form analytics) together with customer polls, surveys and an on-site usability recruitment tool. See our review of Hotar analytics for conversion optimisation.

The Free basic service offers up to 3 on-site polls, surveys and recruiters for live usability testing each month. The Pro and Business packages both offer unlimited polls, surveys and usability test recruitment. The Business service also allows you to remove Hotjar branding from the feedback widget.

Price:

The Free Basic plan allows you to run up to 3 polls or surveys a month and obtain up to 300 responses. Pro plans start from €89 a month for up to 20,000 page views a day.

4. InMoment: 

A Voice of the Customer tool that uses an “omnichannel” approach to gathering customer feedback, drawing from various channels such as text, email, video, social media, and more. Most powerfully, through machine-learning “active listening” technology, their platform encourages more in-depth responses from your customers by automatically formulating follow-up questions based on customer input. Finally, their robust analytics and reporting features will gather all your data to show valuable insights, allowing you to make informed business decisions.

Image of inmoment.com homepage

Price:
InMoment is more geared toward enterprise-level companies, and you can request a customised demo. Pricing is determined by location and a company’s specific needs.
5. i-Perceptions:

One of a number of free online survey tools. This delivers a pop up that asks three simple questions to website visitors. The three questions could include: “How would you rate your site experience?”, “What describes the primary purpose of visit?” and “Were you able to complete the purpose of your visit today?” You can use the feedback to understand how people engage with your website and find opportunities for improvement.

Price:

A Free and Enterprise plan. No prices on the website.

6. Omniconvert:

An optimisation solution that also provides Voice of the Customer tools including a flexible and professional online survey tools. This provides on-click surveys (triggered by clicks on a designated HTML asset), branching logic set up which ensures the questionnaire responds to the user’s answers and a segmentation engine for targeting of specific user groups. You can either serve pop-up surveys or use a widget which appears at the bottom of the page.

Image of www.omniconvert.com survey tools page

Price:

Free for up to 5,000 tested views and offers flexible paid plan (no pricing guidelines shown).

7. Qualaroo:

Offers a customisable widget for desktop and mobile devices. You can target questions to visitors anywhere on your site, and includes exit surveys to capture insights from visitors who are leaving your website.

They offer a Free trial and subscription plans start from $63 a month for desktop. The Professional plan costs $199 a month and includes exit surveys and mobile survey add-on. The Enterprise plan ($499) provides for integration with CRM tools and advanced segmentation.

Qualaroo.com pricing page image
8. Qualtrics:

Offers enterprise Voice of Customer tools that includes Site Interceptor which allows you to survey visitors as they browse your website. A fully flexible offering that includes over 100 different types of questions, drag-and-drop ordering, advanced flow logic, rich text editing, and the ability to include images, videos and audio in surveys. It also allows you to randomize the order of response categories, set quotas and set-up email alerts.

No pricing information on the site.

9. Upwave:

Voice of the Customer tools for those who have never designed questionnaires before and want some advice to complete the process. The tool finds respondents for your survey who meet your target audience from 17 countries by age, gender, geography and custom attributes.

You write your surveys questions, build your questionnaire using their self-service survey tool and an analyst will then review it and suggest edits based upon industry best practice. Upwave will then find the respondents for your survey and provide raw data in an Excel spreadsheet and in Statwing, a free partner analysis tool.

Price:

Plans range from $200 a month for Quick Read for surveys of up to 200 respondents per survey and $2,000 a month for Deep Read which offers up to 2,000 respondents.

10. Alchemer:

Comprehensive online survey tools that can be used to create fully-customisable surveys for distribution through email campaigns in HTML and plain text, on Twitter, Facebook and by embedding them on your website using JavaScript or iFrames.

For mobile forms Alchemer automatically re-formats questions for the device and only displays one question at a time. Mobile surveys also enable use of their File Upload question to gain access to the respondent’s camera and allowing you to capture photos for the study.

Automated reporting tools offer one-click advanced reports and cross-tabs for full analysis of your data. Export data to other data analysis packages. You can also schedule reports and email results to fully automate the reporting process.

Price:

Plans range from just $25 a month for Basic which offers over 30 question types and $95 a month for Premier. An Enterprise plan offers multi-user access for an unspecified price.

11. SurveyMonkey:

One of the most well-known and popular online survey tools that enables the creation of most types of surveys, including web, email, mobile, social media, and automated telephone surveys. If you need to find respondents, SurveyMonkey Audience allows you to define your target audience and will then provide you with the feedback you require.

Offers 15+ types of questions, customisable logo and branding and the ability to set skip logic by page and question. Fully integrated with the likes of MailChimp and Eventbrite. Comprehensive real-time reporting available, together with text analysis, SPSS integration, custom reporting, cross-tabs and presentation-ready charts and reports. A Free plan is available for 10 questions and up to 100 responses per survey.

Price:

Subscription plans start from £26 a month (Select) for up to 1,000 responses to £65 a month for Platinum that offers an unlimited number of responses.

Surveymonkey.com pricing plan page image

 12. Surveypal:

One of the most popular Voice of the Customer tools. It positions itself as an enterprise survey tool that uses an intuitive drag and drop style editor to make it easy to build high quality online and cross-device surveys. You can also choose to edit one of their professionally designed templates if you prefer.

They also offer customer support via phone, email and built-in live chat to make the process stress free as possible. All support staff are engineers which means you can expect to receive a high level of technical support to quickly resolve any problems.

Allows you to set up automated email alerts based upon your own business rules to instantly respond to certain types of customers or responses. A flexible reporting tool which provides automated visual presentations in a variety of formats such as PowerPoint, Word, Excel, SPSS and as an interactive dashboard.

Surveypal integrates with Slack, Zendesk, Salesforce and many other apps. Their API also allows you to send, receive and track surveys. A Free plan is available for up to 100 responses.

Price:

Subscription plans cost $40 a month for Premium for 1,000 responses per month. An Enterprise plan is also available with an unlimited number of responses per month.

Surveypal.com pricing page image
13. Temper:

People are emotional creatures and Temper uses smiley faces for its Voice of Customer tools to measure how customer feel about your organisation and the topics you ask them questions about.

It offers three options for delivery of surveys.

  1. Tab – Shows up at the bottom right of every page you install it on.
  2. Inline – Is positioned within your page anywhere you’d like to get feedback on a specific item or experience.
  3. Email – At the end of an email which is great for gauging how your customer support interactions are performing.
Price:

A 60 day money-back guarantee is available on all plans. Subscription plans range from Hobby at $12 a month to White Label at $199 a month.

14. Typeform:

Voice of the Customer tools that aims to delight respondents, keeping them focused on one question at a time and the versatility of their forms. Provides an enterprise survey tool for use across all devices. Offers Free plan (Core) for basic users.

Price:

The Pro plans costs $20 a month with unlimited typeforms and responses. A Pro+ for teams is currently under development.

15. UserReport:

A Free tool that offers both online survey tools and feedback forums. The online survey tool allows you to ask for feedback about your website and gather visitor demographics in over 60 languages. You can either use the ‘ready-to-go survey or customise with your own logo, colours and questions. Survey results are presented in intuitive reports that can be easily shared and exported as PDF or raw data.

The feedback forums give you the opportunity to gather ideas on how to improve your website. It also allows users to report bugs, submit issues, comment on and vote for ideas online. It works across devices and is fully customisable.

Price:

The solution is currently Free. 

16. UserEcho:

Offers a suite of online survey tools for better customer service and engagement. The main customer feedback tool is their Ideas Forum which enables customers to ask questions, share ideas and learn. Customers can vote and you can gather critical feedback of what they like or dislike.

Users can login via popular social networks which eliminates the need to go through a registration process. In addition, the Knowledge Base will automatically search for answers when a user writes a query, and in the case of a match will display the item to the user.

UserEcho also enables live chat conversations with visitors on your site. 15 day Free trial.

Price:

A single plan is available for £15 a month

17Uservoice:

Voice of the Customer tools that offers a all-in-one product management platform to make it easy to give customers, partners or internal teams a voice with private labelled feedback forums. You can collect customer feedback on web or mobile with a native user experience.

Uservoice does not require your customers to register which encourages participating. The forums work by visitors raising a ticket and then vote or discuss ideas and possible solutions. The tickets contain useful information on the user including their OS, browser and the page from which the ticket was raised.

Price:

Basic plan costs $499 a month and the Premium is $999 a month. An Enterprise solution is also available with quotations on request.

18. Voice Polls:

Create questions or use existing templates to poll your website visitors by embedding surveys onto your website or blog. If you agree to sponsored polls behind your own polls you will earn revenue for every sponsored opinion collected from your site. You can browse trending polls from other users add those to your website to see if they improve engagement with your site.

Voice Polls are a Free tool for online publishers. They can help you grow your traffic, engage your reader, learn from them, discover who they are and bring some interactivity on your pages.

Price:

For non-publishers each question is priced at $12.50 and $0.05 per completed survey.

19. WebEngage:

Voice of the Customer tools that offers surveys, feedback forms and in-depth information (including screen grabs) to obtain and resolve customer problems and notification to display messages to specific audiences (e.g. shopping cart drop-off).

Survey:
  • Collect insights from visitors. Target questionnaires at specific audiences using rule builder. Get real-time analytics and reports.
Feedback:
  • Add context to your feedback form with custom fields and automatic screen grab features.
Notification:
  • A push messaging tool which lets you display offers, discount codes, product launch announcements etc. to visitors with real-time statistics.
Price:

Plans range from $49 for Basic to $949 per month for the Enterprise Lite solution.

Use Voice of the Customer tools today!

Many of these online survey tools provide free trials and many have free plans so there is no reason not to give online Voice of the Customer tools a go. Further, using such tools can also help encourage a more customer centric approach to optimisation and website development. People are naturally curious about what potential and actual customers think about their ideas and designs so assist this process by giving your colleagues the opportunity to capture such feedback.

8 Card Sorting Tools To Improve Information Architecture

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Online card sorting is a usability tool that helps categorise your webpages by identifying how visitors would expect to find content or functionality. Online card sorting is a quick and simple way of evaluating your information architecture, workflow, menu structure or user navigation journeys. Card sorting tools ask users to organise topics into categories.

Card sorting is sometimes used after a tree testing (or reverse card-sorting) exercise identifies findability problems with current navigation journeys. Tree testing evaluates how easy it is to find an item. It gets participants to solely use the website’s navigation (i.e. without any use of internal search or other navigation aids) to complete a set task. Card sorting using online solutions allows you to quickly identify how customers group topics together.

How Does Online Card Sorting Work? 

The card sorting online provider will recruit a sample of people who are roughly representative of your target audience or customer base. Participants organise topics into categories that they feel make sense. They may also label these groups to ensure the words you use are what users would expect.

Image of online card sorting screen
Source: Userzoom.com

Benefits of Card Sorting Online:

Online card sorting tools allow you to understand your user’s expectations and their comprehension of your topics. Furthermore, when we discuss our websites we often use jargon and words that are not used outside our organisations to describe aspects of our websites. Knowing how people groups and describe topics can help you:

  • Organise the structure of your website.
  • Inform what content to put on your homepage.
  • Label categories and navigation.
  • Identify how different groups of users view and organise the same topics.

Limitations of Online Card Sorting:

It does not make allowance for users’ tasks. Card sorting is a content-centric process and if used without considering users’ tasks it can lead to an information structure that is not usable when dealing with real tasks. Make sure you evaluate the output from a card sorting exercise by discussing the potential impact on key user tasks.

It can be superficial as participants may not fully consider what the content is about or how they would use it to complete a task. Card sorting results may also vary widely between participants or they may be fairly consistent. Ensure you don’t rely on too small a sample of users to reduce the risk of a few participants overly influencing your results.

Card sorting online tools should be used to inform your decision making and be viewed alongside other research and usability testing. For example you might want to consider tree testing (reverse card sorting) to evaluate the findability of items in your navigation structure to validate your card sorting findings.

Like any research technique card sorting tools cannot tell you exactly how users will respond on a live website. For this reason it is wise to consider A/B testing any major navigation changes first.

Open and Closed Card Sorting:

Open card sorting involves participants organising topics into groups that make sense to them and then give a name to each that best describes its content. This is great for understanding how users’ group content.

Closed card sorting is where users sort topics using pre-defined categories. This is normally used once you have clearly defined your main navigation or content categories and need to understand how users organise content items into each category.

Often organisations use a combination of the two methods to firstly identify content categories and then to validate how well the category labels work in a closed card sort.

Below I have summarised 8 online (remote) card sorting tools and software solutions for using off-line.

Online Card Sorting Tools:

Online card sorting solutions allow for remote user testing so that you can save on the cost of a lab and it allows participants to conduct the test in the safety of their natural browsing environment.

Remote user testing can also be incredibly quick as participants can be recruited online and asked to complete the study almost immediately.

Here are seven online card sorting tools summarised for you to consider. An additional four offline cards sorting solutions are summarised below the online tools.

1. Optimal Workshop:

Discover how real people think your content should be organised and obtain user insights to make informed decisions about information architecture. Priced at start from $109 per month, $149 per survey or $990 for an annual subscription.

2. Provenbyusers:

A new online card sorting solution that is in Beta and is currently free for users to try it out. Add or import your cards, add a survey and test your card sort before you launch the exercise. Email your participants a unique URL and you can view results immediately. The UI allows you to analyse data using industry standard tables or download your data to analyse as you wish.

Image of Provenbyusers.com homepage
Source: Provenbyusers.com

3. SimpleCardSort:

Online card sorting with the ability to turn on subgroups to capture multiple levels of card placement. This PRO feature allows users to drag one grouping of cards into another grouping. An additional PRO feature offers participant replay which logs every decision made by users and logs each time they sort a card, create a new group or rename an existing group.

Free demo-account allows you to try out the service with a simple card sort. A Basic subscription starts at $49 for 30 days or $99 for the Pro 30 day plan.

Image of SimpleCardSort.com
Source: SimpleCardSort.com

4. Usability Sciences:

A full-service supplier of usability research, Usability Sciences has been established for over 25 years and will design, manage and analyse the result of your card sorting research for you. They offer both open and closed card-sorting solutions for you.

Image of Card Sorting page from Usability Sciences
Source: Usability Sciences

5. Usability Tools:

Card sorting is just one of the tools in their impressive UX suite. Supports open and closed card-sorts, and randomisation of cards and categories. Offers a 14 day Free trial and you can obtain a price quote by submitting your details using a short form.

Image of UsabilityTools.com homepage
Source: UsabilityTools.com

6. UserZoom:

Offers clients a full usability suite, including web-based card sorting. Supports up to 100 items and 12 categories. Supports open and closed card-sorts, randomisation of questions to reduce participant bias, and follows a responsive design so participants can take studies on either their desktop or iPad. Using an iPad makes the process more of an intuitive experience by harnessing the power of touch-screen technology.

UserZoom is Ideal if you are a large organisation looking for a comprehensive usability testing programme, including information architecture/UX design, benchmarking and market research. For businesses subscriptions start from $19,000 a year.

Image of Userzoom.com homepage
Source: userzoom

Off-Line Tools:

If you prefer to conduct card sorting offline with users you have recruited locally there are a number of free software solutions available to use. Summarised below are four free card sorting software tools you can use.

7. UXSORT:

This is a free open-sourced card sorting software that you can download onto a computer running Windows (Windows 7 is preferred). It allows you to import a list of cards using Word or Excel and the software enables you to sort up to 1,000 cards. Users click and drag cards into pre-set categories and you can view results using real-time reporting.

Data can be exported and merged, with each participant’s data presented and exported individually. The software does allow you to aggregate results and run a cluster analysis. The reporting uses a dendrogram or family tree to present results.

However, the software is not for everyone as it requires basic knowledge of SQL databases because installation includes SQL Compact. However, the site does provide a step-by-step installation guide to help you complete the process.

Image o UXSort.com homepage
Source: uxsort

8. XSort App:

This is a free card sorting tools designed for Macintosh. The tool offers both open and closed sorting, plus a combination of the two. The software simulates a table with cards on it so that participants can click and drop cards into the relevant category. It also allows respondents to create sub-categories if needed which can be useful for developing drop down menus.

The reporting functionality allows you to view results in real-time and export data if required. The developers plan a web-based version of the software to allow participants to respond to studies without having to be on a Macintosh.

Image of XSortapp.com homepage
Source: xsort app

Finally:

Many of these online card sorting tools offer a free trial or demo so don’t let cost put you off trying out card sorting to improve your information architecture. This is such important element of the user experience don’t leave it all to chance. Get some input from real users. You should also seriously consider using tree testing to validate card sorting results and evaluate the findability of categories or products on your site.

Featured image by Userzoom