I really like card sorting. I think it’s one of the most powerful tools not just in UX, but in IT in general. It makes the abstract concrete, and there’s something about the nature of it that just helps users find their own connections, without prompting from ‘us.’
I was working on a little Intranet project at the Center for Educational Leadership. The Center has very 4 distinct teams, so figuring out a common IA and navigational schema is always tough.
I took terms from the highest navigational levels of a few systems (live website, network drives, other shared tools) and asked them to sort them out:
As you can see from the Post-Its on the table, it’s an open card sort. I was looking here for users’ opinions on what those top navigational fields should be, so I didn’t want to bias it with my own thoughts.
They did a pretty nice job and came up with a decent first-pass IA:
It’s not done, and it has a few problems, but the idea is to do it 3 or 4 more times with cross-team groups, and then to present the commonalities and differences to come up with a final agreed upon IA.