Card sorting is a straight-forward approach to include your client in the information architecture phase of the website design process. A card sorting exercise will allow you to form the structure of a website, organize it logically, and even determine labels.
It works amazingly well, physically mapping out the geography of thought processes is super productive.
There are two kinds of card sorting: open or closed. In open, participants sort cards in to related categories, and are then asked to give each category a name. In closed, participants sort cards into existing categories. When starting a new site, we use open. Closed is good for testing existing labels.
Running your own card sort is easy:
- Make a list of the top 100 most important content in the project: pages, topics, & features. Everything if necessary.
- Label index cards with each topic from that content inventory list.
- Include blank cards for new (or missed) topics. <
- Shuffle the cards, then spread them out on a large work surface.
- Ask participants to sort the cards in to related groups.
- If this is an open card sort, ask the participant to label each category.
- Photograph the results, reshuffle, and repeat as necessary.
According to usability guru Jakob Nielsen, you must test fifteen users to generate statistically reliable results.
Write a business plan. It's an important thought exercise to put your ideas on paper and help you think through things you might not have otherwise. It is not a set of shackles that will prevent you from ever changing your business ever. You can deviate it from the plan, it's okay. The Small Business Administration has an online walkthrough for writing a basic business plan.
Determine and be willing to discuss your budget. Entrepreneurs seem not only tight-lipped about their budgets, but downright ashamed to even talk about money. Stop it. Cash is the lifeblood of every business. While it's rude to ask strangers their salary, it is vital to your business to estimate start-up costs, operating expenses, and projected cash flow.
Determine how people will hear about you. We can tell you how it won't happen. It will not go viral on social media, bloggers will not give you free publicity, and no one will just find it on Google through the magic of SEO. You like these things because they sound sexy and you think they're free. Partnering with other businesses, give-aways, networking, and Pay Per Click advertising are realistic marketing channels that everyone can use. Your budget and your target market should determine what marketing channels are best for you.
It's your business, if you want to succeed, put in the sweat equity that other successful businesses have. Don't start by sketching a logo on a bar napkin, start by asking yourself the tough questions. You will run in to problems, planning ahead will help prepare your business to get ahead.
A 10 column grid system with gutters for the iPhone retina display. Download the PSD.
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