A prioritization sort is particularly useful for closed card sorts when you want to know which items your participants would prioritize based on a given criteria.

In OptimalSort, all card sorts show you in-group card position analysis. When you’re looking at the results of an individual card sort, you’ll see the order that a participant placed cards in a particular category. For summarized data, you'll see the average position across participants for each individual card in the group.

Using the prioritization sort feature in OptimalSort

Here are two ways you can use the prioritization sort feature in OptimalSort:

Feature and task prioritization 

You have a list of features. You have a group of users. But which features do those users want the most? Ask your users to rank features in order of descending importance in three groups:

  • I'd use this
  • I wouldn't use this
  • Unsure

By identifying the tasks that matter most to your users, you can ensure that this content is prioritized on your website (and which information should be deprioritized or removed). Create a list of the possible tasks that users may complete on your site, then ask them to order these tasks under the following category headings in order of frequency: 

  • Tasks I carry out regularly
  • Tasks I carry out occasionally
  • Tasks I carry out infrequently
  • Task I never carry out

This exercise can also be helpful in defining the tasks that you ask during a Treejack or Chalkmark study.

Brand adjective investigation

Give staff or customers a list of brand adjectives (e.g. bold, funny, laid-back, modern, wholesome etc.) and ask them to describe their impression of your company brand by placing these adjectives in three groups in order of importance:

  • We are
  • We're not
  • We should be

How to gather prioritization data in a card sort

If you want to gather accurate data, it’s important to make your intentions clear to your participants. This means explicitly stating what you need from them in your welcome message, instructions, and even the category label itself.

You won’t always be sitting next to your participants, meaning you won’t be able to learn why they move each card into a category. Prioritization data will only be useful if your participants are aware that’s what you want from them.

Take this example of a closed card sort where you want to find out how frequently your participants carry out various tasks related to internet or mobile banking. To make sure participants know that you want them to order the cards, you should include this information in your study instructions.

It’s also a good idea to reiterate the instructions in the category label: “Tasks I carry out regularly (in order of frequency)”. 

Show card order indicators to your participants

A good way to remind your participants to consider the order of each card within a category is to enable the option to show card order indicators. You can find this under the Options on the Cards tab.

When this option is enabled, each card that your participant sorts into a category will show a number indicating the order position of that card within the category. 

Use category card limits

If you’re interested in understanding how participants would prioritize a limited number of items, you could also consider setting category card limits in your sort. This restricts how many cards your participants can sort into each category that you’ve provided.

Select this option from the Categories tab and then specify what you’d like the limit to be for each category.

How to view prioritization data in your results 

You can view prioritization data using the Categories table and the Cards table.

Viewing your prioritization data doesn’t require changing any settings in OptimalSort, it just means adjusting how you look at your results.

The Categories table

If you look at your Categories results, you'll see the average relative position participants placed the card within that group, and the frequency with which the card appeared in that group:

The Cards table

In your Card results, you'll see the average relative position participants placed the card into each category, and the frequency with which the card appeared in each category:

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