This project was to explore how we can improve the IA of our product. Generally for a complicated study that involves different parts and, quite literally, moving pieces, I may need to account for additional time, ambiguity in concepts and gather a sense of the cognitive workload required of the session. Especially for an open card sort where you can introduce bias in the naming conventions or labels presented on the cards. In some cases, we have to assess where we want to be intentional and when it's better to leave it open ended. Running the study with at least one participant before the actual study can help to refine the method, and ensure a smoother outcome. If the pilot study goes well, perhaps you can even use the data!
The format of the study was to have them group the cards in whatever relationships they found important. (LEFT SIDE) This varied from workflow to business goals. I kept the sessions fluid to give participants ample time to explain their thought processes and mental model of their groupings. This resulted in various permutations of the cards. Once we finalized the groupings, they named them. As a second part to the exercise, we tried to translate the groupings into a visual representation for a Dashboard. This involved the participant creating and plotting those groupings onto a blank sheet of paper to serve as a frame for a dashboard (RIGHT SIDE). The reason for this part was to compare whether their hierarchies translated over from the cards.
Based on the card sorts and the stories they told about their experience, I generated a workflow model to describe how small businesses think about their communication with customers and what that process might look like. This model was used as a framework to conduct a follow up study to uncover motivations for engagement with a new product we were exploring as a separate project.