Optimal Workshop is a suite of tools that we use to conduct cardsorting tasks, basic surveys, other information architecture validation tests.

Optimal Sort

The primary tool we use Optimal Workshop for is their cardsorting system, called OptimalSort. Cards are dragged from a list provided into the spaces on the right. 

Cardsorting can occur in three main formats:

  1. Closed: You define all the cards and all of the categories that the cards will be sorted in
  2. Hybrid: You define all of the cards and provide some of the categories that the cards will be sorted into, but participants can create additional groups
  3. Open: You define all of the cards and none of the categories. The participants define all of the categories. 

Building Cards

You can create a set inside OptimalSort or copy/paste a list of items from a plain text document or spreadsheet. 

Additional options for the cards exist, including whether or not you want to show rank-order indicators. This allows you to ask participants to prioritize the cards in each category. You don’t need to have participants sort all cards.

Lastly, you can print out the cards to preform the sort in person.

Building Categories

If you are doing a Closed or Hybrid sort, you will need to define some of the categories. You can also define category limits, so you have users sort cards into even categories.


OptimalSort handles much of the analysis for you. The Popular Placement Matrix will show you the most common sorting habits.

On open and hybrid sorts, using the Similarity Matrix will show you where people grouped things together. 

The Dendrograms presentation will show you how to review data clusters.