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What is card sorting in surveys?

A card sorting survey is a highly interactive survey question that respondents use to sort answer options into specific buckets which helps to conduct user research. Answers rank from the least to the most crucial answer options.

These questions are highly engaging and require a more in-depth level interaction with the survey, which means they are preferred to question types that use radio buttons, single select, etc.

For example, if an online furniture retailer is launching a new wardrobe range, there would be an eagerness to know the micro-level product specifications that would retail best. The obvious questions would revolve around functionality, colors, specifications, price-point, etc. Respondents provide bucketed information about what is most important to them, and this helps club information about what features are most relevant and the ones that are not important.

Uses of card sorting in surveys

The most significant use of card sorting surveys is the ability it provides organizations to understand the most sought after product features and services. Answer options when bundled together, show weighted importance, either purely by line items or by percentages. Sorting items into categories provides the ability to get direct feedback about answer options in numerical value, which provide for actionable insights.

A card sorting survey also engages respondents and elevates user-experience. These two factors are a perfect remedy to reduce survey fatigue. Variations of card sorting make this question highly interactive and actionable insight collection becomes easy.

Types of card sorting survey questions

There are two types of card sorting in surveys. Both of them offer different kinds of insights for various reasons. They are:

Examples of card sorting in a survey

An easy to understand example of a card sort research study is placing Hollywood movies under different genres.

In open card sorting, respondents define their buckets to place the movies under.


The dashboard for this method is in the form of weighted buckets that have a percentage associated with them.


In closed card sorting, respondents drag and drop answers under pre-defined buckets.


This dashboard is in the form of weighted bar graphs.


Advantages of creating surveys with card sorting

There are many advantages to using card sorting in surveys. Some of the most prominent benefits are:

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