Site Mapping / Card Sorting



Hello -

I have a bit of a dilemma. I recently posted that my managers approved of moving to the UX methodology which was a win. I’ve hit a snag though. I’ve completed the strategy, I sent out a survey to the users and received a lot of great feedback. I’m planning on conducting some user research over the next few days. One of the users gave some feedback on the site navigation and how it’s confusing. After following her examples I definitely agree. I spoke to my manager (trying to keep him in the loop on this new process) about doing a card sort and it was immediately turned down. My thought was a digital sort that could be done as users have the time. His choice was to continue with whatever the developer chooses and then train the users (this is an internal site for the business) on how to navigate. To me this seems counter intuitive but at the same time I’ve never run a card sort (still really new) so I can’t guarantee I’d get the most out of it when compared to someone more experienced.

Should I pursue this further? Is the sort beneficial enough? Since this is my first UX focused project I want to pick my battles with management (who’s only ever followed the waterfall/business centered model).

Because it’s an internal site we don’t have the issue of losing ‘potential customers’. Basically, you work here and you’re going to use it because you have to. I don’t agree with the approach but I don’t know if I should let it pass for now.



I’m keen to hear what our @Experienced UXers and @Researchers say here, but I’d say yes – pursue this.

But I think you have a bigger problem here. You got approval to take a user centric approach to your product design and the first time you have an opportunity to use it, you get pushback (of the worst kind).

This is the worst of the worst!


Let me be direct here: stop doubting yourself. Sure, not everything you’ll do is going to give perfect, useful results. At the beginning of the process is no time to show doubt or uncertainty - those who are against the change will use it the moment they sense it.

Don’t back down. You know what you’re doing. You know how the process works, and the value it gives. Be confident, be strong, and speak up for your cause. If you fail to stand up for the users now, it’s only going to get harder and harder as time goes on.

You will absolutely lose customers and money due to poor internal UX. If anything, the experience of your internal products has a greater impact on the bottom line than external UX, all things being equal. Your internal products are what allow your teams to work efficiently. They rely on them for communication, productivity, and scale. Bad internal UX means lower productivity, lower efficiency, and lower morale. There are few faster ways to tell your employees “you don’t matter” than by giving them crappy products with crappy experiences that your company made.

You’ll have a fight on your hands, but one that’s worth it. Stand up for yourself, and the user.


Agree with what everyone is saying so far. Train users to use the site? Wow.
Why “leave” it to the developer?
Why not “collaborate” with the developer? #offended.


Agreed. Needless to say I was a bit frustrated after that conversation today. Not giving up though!


Doug -

I really appreciate this feedback. I needed it. I definitely feel a little bit of the ‘impostor syndrome’ that I’ve heard about. It’s a little tough to shake it when I’m the only one in the company trying to implement UX methodology. It’s been a little difficult to break down that wall of ‘this is how we’ve always done it’.

You’re absolutely right about affecting our internal users in a negative way. I’m going to go forward and get the exercise prepared and show him how the process will work. Maybe more of a visual will help. I’ll also focus on the current drawbacks to our site map and what issues it’s causing. Nearly each update/implementation has issues immediately after go live. That needs to stop!

Thank you again! This community is awesome.


Hi Sean,

I think we can all relate to having a conversation like that with managers / stakeholders. Those words are the gauntlet that user-advocates are up against. Our defenses include asking questions, being really curious and understanding the other side. Empathizing with stakeholders will help us understand how to frame our arguments so it’s relevant to the stakeholder.

For example, he might be concerned with productivity. Poor UX will reduce productivity. Maybe there are workarounds people have to spend time doing. How much time do they spend on that? Times that by an approximation of their wages, and that’s a rough estimate of what improving the user experience of their internal systems can save the company.

Coming up against those arguments (that seem like brick walls) and still coming back with relevant arguments for user-centered design is as much a part of growing as a designer as understanding when to use card-sorting and when to do usability tests.

Understand him, what his needs, problems and pressures are, and try out different approaches to apply whatever level of user-centered design you can. You can’t win them all, but you’ll learn so much by continuing to try, even if it seems hopeless at the time.

Never give up! Never surrender! :sunglasses::nerd_face:

Best of luck!


Thanks Marie. He’s usually pretty reasonable so your approach will hopefully yield some positive results. Hoping I just caught him on a bad day but I will be more prepared this next time around. Maybe that was my fault for not reading the situation well enough. Learning as I go, for sure!

I appreciate the feedback. Thanks again!


Agree with what everyone is saying. Visuals and real examples are helpful when trying to persuade someone.
Sort of related to what Marie said, don’t feel like you have to use UX jargon, such as card sorting. Saying the tasks in layman’s terms will help. Such as “I want to test the navigation for efficiency” is better than “card sorting.” :grinning:

Usability tests of even small things with time on task can be very persuasive as well.

Good luck!


who are the users? 3 staff? Then it may be easier to train them to use some fiddly dumb-ass IA than conduct loads of time on intensive user research. Time=money to your boss.

But go back to your boss and say we will need time to train staff and this costs lots of cash. Say you can do your research in a fraction of the time and then you wont need to waste money training staff because your IA will be amazeballs. Also say new staff won’t need to spend time being trained either.


I would find out what his concerns are and explain how easy digital tools make it.