15 Card Sorting Tools for Remote UX Research

Since 1996, Nielsen Norman Group has been conducting large-scale usability studies to pinpoint the most common and enduring web-design mistakes. Number one on their list of enduring offenses: unexpected locations for content.

This is, of course, a problem. After all, “people can’t use information they can’t find.”

Sometimes, the problem is a result of confusing or misleading category names that don’t accurately describe what’s behind each “door.” Sometimes, a company has organized content based on their own internal biases, which don’t align with the visitor’s mental models of how information should be structured. Either way, poorly thought out content categorization creates unnecessary hurdles for users.

Luckily, a little usability research can go a long way toward improving your information architecture. 

🎙 Listen: What Is Information Architecture, Anyway? with Page Laubheimer of NN/g

What is card sorting?

Card sorting is a research method used by UX and user researchers to uncover users’ mental models and better understand how people naturally categorize information. It involves having study participants group information by sorting cards into categories. 

Different types of card sorting

There are three types of card sorting exercises:

  • Open — Users sort cards into groups, and then name the groups
  • Closed — Users sort cards into an existing set of categories 
  • Hybrid — Same as closed, except users can also create new categories

Open card sorts are the most common and are especially helpful at the beginning of a project when you’re trying to get initial insight into how people categorize and label information. 

Closed card sorts are typically used later in a project as a way of validating whether category labels are clear and make sense to users. 

Hybrid card sorts are often used on redesign projects. This approach allows the researcher to see how participants engage with existing information architecture while leaving space to explore additional categories that might make sense as part of an update. 

Krisztina Szerovay

Card sorting methods and considerations

In addition to card sort type, there are a couple other variables to consider. Namely, will your research be moderated or unmoderated, analog or digital?

Moderated vs. unmoderated card sorting

To moderate or not to moderate, that is the question. 

Moderated card sorts

  • Typically done in-person
  • Usually more expensive and time-consuming
  • Requires more coordination
  • Allows for user “narration” of sorting choices to provide additional visibility into thought process
  • Provides the option for a debrief in which to ask follow-up questions and capture qualitative insights
  • Requires additional time and resources for data analysis

Unmoderated card sorts

  • Usually done remotely via an online tool
  • Tends to be faster and less expensive
  • Fairly easy to organize
  • May provide shallower qualitative insights
  • Often used as a complement to moderated sessions

Paper vs. digital card sorting 

Pick your poison: old-school paper or new-fangled technology.

Paper card sorts

  • Uses physical cards
  • More flexible and forgiving for the user
  • Allows user to see all content in one place
  • No technology learning curve
  • In-person sessions require more coordination 
  • Requires manual documentation and analysis

Digital card sorts

  • Uses digital cards in an online tool
  • Can require quick technology training
  • Fast and easy to coordinate and implement
  • Software captures input and automates analysis

Some things stay the same

Whether you go remote or in-person, moderated or unmoderated, paper or digital, there are some considerations that remain consistent:

  • Identify and document your assumptions before you get started. (But keep an open mind! Be ready to have those assumptions challenged)
  • Reverse engineer your research topic from your objectives to make sure you’re looking at the right elements.
  • Do your prep work: Identify the ideas you need sorted, assign one idea per card, shuffle well, create categories (for a closed card sort), craft a welcome/intro for participants including clear and concise instructions.
  • Recruit your participants. A research recruiting tool like User Interviews can help you find the right participants for either remote or in-person card sorting sessions.
  • Do a dry run to uncover any glitches and smooth out the experience.

15 card sorting tools

Digital card sorting is a fast and easy option. And in 2021, it’s also more the practical one, all things considered. Whether you routinely conduct card sorting as part of your UX research and are looking for an alternative to your current solution, or are an occasional researcher in the market for a straightforward tool, this list of 15 card sorting tools has you covered. 

Some of the tools are available as features within broad UXR platforms, others are flexible tools that you may already be using and which you can adapt for card sorting use, and then there are some standalone options that are designed specifically for the task at hand. 

User research platforms that include card sorting 

1. OptimalSort by Optimal Workshop 

OptimalSort is one of the most popular  parts of the Optimal Workshop suite. It allows for moderated and unmoderated online card sorts, and requires only minutes to set up a study. Its data analysis capabilities make it easy to identify common groups via vibrant visualizations.

card sort analysis tool from optimalworkshop
Optimal Workshop

What user reviews say

OptimalSort is easily one of the most popular tools on this list. People love the power of the standard reporting, and feel that they get a lot of bang for their buck with the overall platform. Users describe the card sort feature as intuitive.

Reviews: G2, TrustRadius

“The analysis tools are really powerful and the functionalities for card sorting are flexible. I wasn’t aware the first time I tried to use it that it supported images in cards and add tooltip descriptions but those options are available which makes it pretty much a complete tool for remote card sorts.” – Bowie L on G2

Monthly price

  • Starter: $99 for 2 live studies at a time
  • Pro: $166 for unlimited studies*
  • Team: $153 for unlimited studies plus additional features*

* 2 months free. Optimal Workshop is also a Flex Stack partner.

2. Maze.co

Designed to take user testing out of the silo and provide access across multiple teams, Maze focuses on making it easy for anyone to test anytime and anywhere. The Maze platform offers a variety of test options, and also offers integration with other software including Adobe XD, Figma, InVision, and more. They’re also one of our Flex Stack partners.

What user reviews say

People frequently comment on the user-friendly design, both for researchers and study participants. They also find the integrations extremely helpful for streamlining workflows. Folks also recognize the value of Maze’s templates and in-depth customization options. Finally, the auto-generated reports and pay-as-you-go approach also earn high marks.

Reviews: G2, Capterra

We used Maze for testing our concepts and gathering some data before the implementation. It has a really great user-friendly design, which is really easy to start using. Step-by-step project creation provides powerful tools not only for usability testing but Card-sorting, NSS surveys, 5 sec test, and a lot more. So you can use Maze not for only testing prototypes, but gather survey data, or even combine it together. – Dmitry V on G2

Monthly price

  • Free: $0 for unlimited seats, 3 active projects, and up to 10 blocks
  • Professional: $25 for 1 seat, 10 active projects, and unlimited blocks
  • Organization: Custom pricing for 10+ seats, unlimited projects, and additional features

3. UserZoom

Card sorting is one of several UXR tools from UserZoom, which also offers usability testing, interviews, surveys, tree testing, click testing, and more. They offer both open and closed card sort, and helpful data visualizations like a dendrogram. 

dendogram card sorting example from userzoom

What user reviews say

People appreciate the wide number of test options, intuitive interface, and the access to the UserZoom Academy for self-guided training. In addition, people like that the platform allows non-coders to quickly and easily mock up enhanced prototypes. And the company gets a thumbs up for responsive support and useful help pages.

Reviews: G2, Capterra, TrustRadius

I appreciate the nearly limitless options for testing, from card sorts to advanced usability. Being able to create highly customized testing and not have to stick to an out-of-the-box platform is ingenious. And being able to go back and edit ad nauseum is useful when we change our minds, which happens a lot! – Erin M. G on G2

Monthly price: 14-day trial; pricing not published (custom)

4. Userlytics

Userlytics is a robust platform for user testing and usability testing. From picture-in-picture recording to annotations and highlight reels to private labeling, they offer a wide range of tools and features, including card sorting. They also provide an advanced metric system so you can analyze and share data and insights with your team. And their sophisticated AI system delivers recommendations based on industry, number of categories, and products as well as participant behavior during a test. 

What user reviews say

While people clearly like the product, the number-one rave factor is the personal customer support. Ease of implementation, flexibility, speed, and options like remote moderation are also mentioned; but nearly every reviewer makes a point of calling out the excellent responsiveness and helpfulness of the Userlytics team.

Reviews: G2, Capterra, TrustRadius

Biggest differentiator is the level of support from Ryan and team. They’re super knowledgeable, kind, patient, and always willing to help! They are true partners and go above and beyond to ensure your study is successful. – Marine P on G2

Pay-as-you-go pricing

  • Quick & Easy: From $49 per participant
  • Enterprise: $69 per participant
  • Custom: Custom pricing

Monthly subscriptions

  • Starter: $399 for 1 seat 
  • Premium: $499 for 2 seats
  • Advanced: $999 for 5 seats

5. UXTweak

Like the other tools on this list, UXTweak allows for all three kinds of card sorting (open, closed, and hybrid). They also tout their ability to deliver quick insights and PDF reports, provide a great UI experience for testers (no need to install anything), and enable full study customization. They offer a variety of data visualization tools including a similarity matrix, dendrogram, and others. 

What user reviews say

Reviewers commented frequently on the platform’s fast, simple implementation and great documentation. The ease of use and step-by-step instructions makes it possible for anyone on the team to run tests. Researchers also appreciate the superior configuration options—things like being able to use pictures in cards. And they like the combination of in-depth analysis with a great overview, both of which make it easy to present to stakeholders. Last, but certainly not least, folks consistently comment on the company’s excellent service.

Reviews: G2, Capterra

The Card Sorting function in UXtweak was easy to use. Simple yet more customizable than others’ platform configuration and supports using pictures as cards, which was essential for our study about people’s ability to recognize emotions with and without face masks. The analysis possibilities gave a in-depth view on our results as well as a great and quick overview, making it possible to do some well argued conclusions for further work. We will definitely use UXtweak again. – User in Research on G2

Monthly price

  • Free: $0 for small projects (no credit card required)
  • Professional: $108 for unlimited tasks, 2 domains, 30K sessions, and 3 users 
  • Individual: Custom pricing

6. UserTesting

UserTesting’s  remote card sorting tool makes it possible to collect both qualitative and quantitative insights by combining  card groupings with recordings of participant sessions. And their machine learning-driven “suggested sentiment” helps researchers easily identify places where participants stumble during the test via color coding on the video playback and transcript.

What user reviews say

Many reviewers comment on the speed of the platform, both for launching tests and getting results. And they find the integrations with a variety of experience management, collaboration, prototyping, and scheduling tools to be very convenient. Other details like video transcription and a well-organized dashboard also rate mentions.

Reviews: G2, Capterra, TrustRadius

It is fun to see the responses flow into the tool and to watch the users participate in the study. It is really helpful to watch participants react to your product. You can also collaborate with your colleagues as you review the responses in real time. It is such a helpful and easy tool to use in your research process. – Sara L on G2


  • Individual: Pricing not published (custom),, online ordering
  • Enterprise: Pricing not published (custom), request trial

7. UserBit

Card sorting is one of many tools in UserBit’s broad platform. For card sorting, UserBit allows researchers to monitor ongoing remote sessions in real time, so they can see exactly how study participants are working through the process. And UserBit’s analytics offer a variety of outputs including similarity matrix, heat maps, and more. 

What user reviews say

Researchers really value the way UserBit brings qualitative and quantitative data together. The platform gets a lot of kudos for its auto tagging, tag management, search capabilities, and variety of meaningful data views. Several reviewers also shared accolades about UserBit’s great service and their willingness to develop and launch requested features. 

Reviews: G2, Capterra

Reunites in one place all the data about my users. Originally specialized in qualitative gathering, several updates make it a really complete tool now! I’m amazed by the simplicity of use and the reactivity of your customer service. – Sylvain A. on Capterra

Monthly price

(15% discount for paying annually; 14-day free trial)

  • Individual: $20 for 1 team member, up to 5 projects, and 20 card sorting sessions/study
  • Team: $50 for 3 team members, unlimited projects, and 50 card sorting sessions/study
  • Business: Starting at $99 for 5 team members, unlimited projects, and 100 card sorting sessions/study

8. UXArmy

In addition to offering closed, open, or hybrid card sort options, UXArmy also allows researchers to solicit additional, qualitative user feedback on their understanding of each card. This solution also allows researchers to include images for each card, and provides a way to easily identify confusing cards by tracking card movement paths and categorization score based on shifting among categories by study participants. 

What user reviews say

Researchers appreciate the no-nonsense onboarding, and the value for the cost. They also commented on the simple user interface, the fact that test creation is quick and easy, and that results are available fast.

Reviews: G2, Capterra

UXArmy is very easy to use and straight forward. Test creation is right in 3 steps. The best thing is that they do not Spam my Inbox.  – Rachna J. on Capterra

Monthly price

(Save 20% with annual subscription)

  • Free, 7-day trial: unlimited projects
  • Individual: $79 for unlimited projects
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing and SLA

9. Proven By Users

Proven By Users is 100% browser based, no extensions required. Each test comes with a unique URL, and tests can be set up and launched in minutes. Their remote and unmoderated card sort model allows for quick collection of quantitative data on categorization preferences. Options for analyzing the data include similarity matrices and dendrograms. 

What user reviews say

There are not enough reviews currently available to pick up on user sentiment.  


  • Free Plan: For learning the platform. 
  • Full Testing Suite: $49.95 for 30 days, $87.95 for 60 days, $499.95 for 1 year
  • Targeted Testing (one test type): $39.95 for 30 days, $69.95 for 60 days, $399.95 for 1 year

Flexible tools you may already be using that have card sort capabilities

10. Miro

Wildly popular Miro is a versatile online collaborative whiteboard with a suite of tools to help cross-functional teams handle a wide range of use cases—from meetings and agile workflows to brainstorming, diagramming, and mind mapping. They also have a card sorting template that users can adapt to their own needs in an open, closed, or hybrid exercise. 

🎥 Watch: How to Use Miro for More Collaborative UX Research, a webinar with Eduardo Gomez Ruiz, UX Research Lead at Miro and Jill Yee, UX Researcher at Airtable.

miro collaborative card sorting template

What user reviews say

Overall ratings for the Miro platform are high. People love that it’s easy to use and incredibly flexible. They appreciate the ability to import content from other software. Many users also make use of the many Miro templates that the company publishes (and the community develops) to help people jumpstart various tasks and projects. Teams also love the reliable and customizable collaboration options that make Miro an essential collaboration tool for many remote teams.

Reviews: G2, Capterra, TrustRadius

It’s a super versatile software. At our company we use it for brainstorming sessions, planning meetings, debriefs, kanban boards to track tasks and progress, collaborating on video scripts, sharing early ideas, documenting user research … pretty much everything. It’s also great for onboarding new employees, because all information is there and linked. The team behind Miro seems to be super dedicated – continuously shipping new features in really short cycles. – Christoph S. User Experience Lead on G2

Monthly pricing (per member)

  • Free: $0 for unlimited team members and 3 editable boards
  • Team: $8 for small teams and unlimited boards
  • Business: $16 for teams of 5+ with unlimited boards and SSO
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing for enterprise-grade workflows, controls, integrations, and support


MURAL is another popular digital workspace for visual collaboration. Their flexible collection of features allow users to create unique collaborative experiences using sticky notes and text, shapes and connectors, icons, frameworks, images and gifs, and freehand drawing. UX teams can use a combination of these elements to create highly engaging card sorting exercises—like this one conducted by the team at O’Reilly Media, who used color-coded sticky notes, star stickers, and outlining. 

card sorting with mural software example

What user reviews say

In general, users love the wide array of visual collaboration tools and how many ways you’re able to customize them. They also appreciate that team members can communicate in different ways: sharing, commenting, text chat, and Quick Talk. Users find the expert templates really helpful, and appreciate the ability to easily integrate MURAL into existing workflows with integrations (Dropbox, Slack, Documents, GitHub, and more). People also comment on how aesthetically pleasing the interface is. 

Reviews: G2, Capterra, TrustRadius

Gone are the days when you had to be co-located to run a workshop or collaborate with remote product teams, you can now think and collaborate visually anywhere anytime. I love how it mimics the real world experience of brainstorming, project planning or synthesizing the data, a lot of data. It does it all in real time without the needs of the team to be co-located. – Ashish V., UX Designer in Capterra

Monthly pricing (per member)

  • Starter: $12 for 1+ member in one workspace, unlimited visitors
  • Plus: $20 for 10+ members in one workspace, unlimited guests
  • Enterprise Network: Custom pricing for 50+ members with multiple workspaces

12. Trello

With its no-nonsense kanban board format, Trello is an obvious choice for a DIY card sort exercise. The basic structure of cards and columns on a continuous board are easy to adapt and very intuitive, even for new users. 

What user reviews say

People love how straightforward Trello is, making use almost effortless to use with little-to-no ramp up time, even with external users. Users also find the ability to color-code and otherwise customize and label cards really helpful. 

Reviews: G2, Capterra, TrustRadius

Trello has an extremely low learning curve, anyone can use it and customize it at ease..its free version it allows you to use the vast majority of its options. It has a very comfortable and fluid drag and drop card system that makes you feel like you are working locally. The handling of the cards, the organization and the filing of the same is very comfortable. – Juan Manuel C., Web Developer on Capterra

Monthly pricing (per user)

  • Free: $0 for up to 10 boards
  • Business Class: $10 for unlimited boards and additional views
  • Enterprise: Starting at $17.50 for enterprise-level access and automation 

Psst—if you’re new to Trello and need help getting started, check out Cloudward’s Trello Tutorial 2022: A Beginner’s Guide to Project Management Basics.

13. Whimsical

With a combination of docs and whiteboards, Whimsical is designed to help teams tackle a range of use cases from user flows and architecture diagrams to product specs, brainstorming, and more. Their Sticky Notes feature offers a ton of flexibility in terms of color coding, resizable stacks, and an infinite two-dimensional canvas. 

What user reviews say

Users across a variety of functions rave about Whimsical’s ability to make wire framing, prototyping, and flow building super fast and easy. They also like having both charting and card-based (Sticky Notes) features in one platform.

Reviews: G2, Capterra, TrustRadius

If you need to do the job nice and easy – Whimsical is a go-to tool. Within a couple of clicks you can make all the stuff you need – wireframe mock, proof of concept, diagrams to back-up your presentation, the list goes on. It is easy to get into and simple to use. – Volodymyr B., Marketing Content Manager in Capterra

Monthly pricing (per editor)

  • Starter: $0 for unlimited members and up to 3,000 items per workspace
  • Pro: $10 for unlimited members and unlimited items per workspace
  • Organization: $20 for unlimited members and items plus enterprise-level features and support

Free, purpose-made card sorting tools

14. xSort

This free card sorting application is designed for UX professionals and social scientists. The product offers a visual environment that supports open, closed, and hybrid sort types, as well as the ability to create subgroups of participants. It provides statistical results (cluster tree, distance table, etc.), which are updated in real time. It has basic reporting functionality with export options, and researchers can lock the document so that each participant may only do one session. Note: xSort is only available on Mac

15. kardSort

This simple and free online card sorting tool offers a straightforward drag-and drop format that makes it easy for participants to jump right into open, closed, or hybrid sorts. The application also has the ability to include pre- and post-study survey questionnaires; export results to .csv, SynCaps V3, and Casolysis; establish secure access via a password; as well as append cards and categories with additional detail under an information icon.

Get sorting! 

As will all user research methods, there is an art and a science to planning and analyzing card sorts. But the exercise itself is fairly straightforward, and all of the tools on this list will enable you to conduct effective remote card sorts. The devil is really in details—do you need a tool that offers analytics or will you import your data into another tool? Are you looking for a card sorting feature as part of a broader (and pricier) suite of tools, or are you mainly in the market for a quick and easy (and cheap solution)? Only you know the answers to those questions.

But one thing is certain: No matter which card sorting tool you choose, you can’t run a card sorting study without participants.

User Interviews offers a panel of over 500,000 vetted participants—recruit for research on any platform, or manage a research panel of your own in Research Hub. User Interviews’ Zoom integration allows you to schedule sessions, manage participant communication, and automate the creation of Zoom links—which means you can focus on actually researching, instead of getting mired in research ops.

Give User Interviews a try. Your first 3 participants are free.

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