I Can Make Your Ideas Grow
When it comes to user experience (UX) design, everyone may be thinking about information architecture and interaction design, but ask any expert UX designer out there and each one of them will tell you to get UX research right first.
There is truth to this piece of advice because without getting a peek into what targeted users think and feel when interacting with a service or product, you will not able to accurately measure the impact of design changes.
It goes without saying that without this phase, all your efforts for information architecture and interaction design are made without informed choices.
Luckily, with the advancement of web applications and online services, you can depend on a great spectrum of UX research tools to help you create exceptional digital experiences for your targeted audience. We have listened to leading UX designers and compiled a list of stellar tools to help you analyze the behavior and get feedback from users:
Do you have to do remote usability testing under a few challenging situations? For example: small budget, short time period, and worldwide audience? With Skype, you can easily triumph over those challenges to do moderated remote usability testing.
Many people around the world have downloaded Skype on a range of devices so that means you have easy access to users who will be ready for your testing. Being a free voice chat and video call app, Skype allows you to record the audio, video and even screen of the participants. The call and video quality are often excellent so conducting the testing can be a piece of cake for you.
All you need to do is to provide a website or a prototype as well as prepare questions or tasks for users to tackle. Validately lets you use your own users for testing and you can also choose to recruit users from their panel.
When the testing is ongoing, you can record the audio and video and later use them as shareable links. One big feature that you will love is their analytics tool which helps you to analyze the testing to end up with qualitative reports and results. Validately starts from $79 per month but it’s certainly worth the investment if you do regular UX research.
We all understand how surveys can help us get feedback and that’s why surveys as a form of UX research tool have been widely embraced by UX practitioners in the recent past. SurveyMonkey has been around for a while and is popular for UX research endeavors because the collection methods span from email to an embedded link on your website to Facebook, and more.
More benefits of using SurveyMonkey include seeing real-time results, ability to generate graphs and charts, and SPSS integration. If you go for the basics which include 10 questions and a max of 100 responses, then you can use SurveyMonkey for free.
Morae is a nifty tool which can help you conduct a powerful usability study. Whether you want to capture data such as user satisfaction, time spent on task, task accuracy, perceived task difficulty or user response, Morae can rise up to the occasion.
It can capture everything you need as an on-screen activity recorder. Once the testing is over, you can also generate automatically calculated graphs and look at standard metrics. However, this software is expensive (it can go up to $1995 USD) so you are recommended to use their free trial to determine if Morae is right for your needs.
If you are a Mac user and prefer to do UX research on this device, then Silverback lets you do guerilla usability testing without having to tackle any complex configurations. Silverback is built on OSX and optimized for Yosemite so you can imagine how compatible this app is with any of the Apple’s products.
Recording screen activity is pretty easy and this has won the hearts of those UX practitioners who love a no-fuss approach. Do note that Silverback has launched a new version that has been tested by 100 beta testers (Silverback 3) but the company has pulled this version up from App Store as it is not ready for the public market. In the meantime, you can still use Silverback 2 as a free shareware product.
If you want to collect user response on an app, email or website, you absolutely have to know Usabilia. It’s a convenient tool to actually see how users feel and think while browsing the relevant product. By featuring points and notes on the design itself, the targeted users can answer questions and rate their response to the design.
Many UX experts love Usabilia because they also have some pretty cool heatmaps. Lots of big brands such as Adidas and HP are using Usabilia to understand their users better so if it’s good for them, you won’t be disappointed with it. This application costs between $49 and $199 per month but for someone who needs to do UX research on websites regularly, it’s a sound investment.
If you are trying to build a leaner UX research process, Calendly is a neat addition to your repertoire of tools. However, you need to understand that Calendly is not a full-blown UX research tool as compared to others like Morae or even Validately.
It’s a convenient scheduling tool as it can help you schedule multiple participants across multiple time zones and different days in a week. Calendly will send out timely reminders to your participants so that your testing can get underway without hassle. One good thing is that if you set up only one testing event, this is free. But even if you want to schedule more events, you won’t break the bank with an $8 USD monthly fee (billed annually).
For those who hate setting up tests from scratch, you will love UsabilityHub which is widely known for their quick Five Second Tests, Navigation Tests, Click Tests, Question Tests, and Preference Tests. You can easily choose a type of testing to be implemented and your tests are all scalable.
For example, Click Tests are good when you want to test interfaces that already have a well defined purpose – think about pages with call-to action or landing pages. For UsabilityHub, you can use it for free when your participants are 20 or less and if you want to target unlimited participants, you have to pay $99 USD per month.
We don’t know about you but we love to use anything cool so Lookback is definitely in our list of must-have UX research tools. Not only is it cool, it’s really insanely simple and fast to use for user testing. You can easily achieve a slick camera and screen recording for the desktop or native apps.
If this doesn’t tempt you to try Lookback today, how about “absolutely free” sounds? Yes, Lookback is currently free of charge at the time of writing so if you are just a beginning UX designer, we urge you to get this tool as soon as possible before Lookback starts to get really popular and be lifted off the freebie shelf!
Another high performing tool, Userzoom is best recommended for the serious UX designers because it costs between $1000 to $3000 USD with the option to customize your own plan within that price range. Touting itself as the “All-in-One UX Research Platform for the Data-Driven Enterprise” – Userzoom certainly lives up to its own name, regardless whether you want to do moderated or unmoderated usability testing.
You can do so much when it comes to agile UX research when you use this tool but only when your wallet can handle its hefty price tag. Let us remind you the big names who are using Userzoom – Google, Macy’s, Coca Cola, and PayPal – need we say more?
Are you familiar with card sorting? It’s any easy way to discover how users think about the organization of your content and you can later use their feedback to make informed decisions about information architecture.
OptimalSort makes it easy for you to conduct card sorting tests and provide different report types for you to conduct data analysis on the results. You can try OptimalSort for free on a project with limited advanced features or pay $199 USD monthly for unlimited access.
Treejack comes from the same company – Optimal Workshop – which offers OptimalSort but it’s positioned as a tree sorting software tool (which is often known as reverse card sorting). You can use Treejack to test your information architecture and validate that it works before you jump into the interface design phase.
All of the test results that you obtain can be downloaded and shared with your colleagues. Similarly like OptimalSort, you need to pay $199 USD per month if you want to use it on an unlimited basis.
Another awesome app to help you perform user testing on an app or website, UserTesting lets you record audios and videos of participants engaging in specified tasks as well as help you get written answers to questionnaires that you have set.
Similar to Validately, you can choose between your own users or tap on their one million users from their panel. Facebook is one of the adoptees of this fantastic tool, and we all know Facebook places a big emphasis on user experience, so why not try UserTesting today and see what the buzz is about?
A basic package costs $99 per video (first 10 videos cost only $49 each) and for those UX teams who need to do much more UX research, you can have the option of customizing a special price plan.
You may recall that we have listed SurveyMonkey earlier on this list and Surveygizmo is the other highly rated survey tool for you to get feedback from targeted users. It’s safe to say that experienced UX designers will tap on either SurveyMonkey or Surveygizmo for survey purposes so these two are the real deal when it comes to collecting responses through surveys.
The consensus among UX practitioners is that when you are looking to conduct advanced surveys with complex logic, Surveygizmo might have an upper hand over its close competitor. Price plans include free basic version to $75 USD professional package to customizable price plan for your specific needs.
In case you are wondering, being last on this list doesn’t mean that it’s the least recommended tool. In fact, we have saved one of the best for last! If you hate lots of data responses generated in the form of questionnaires, then you are probably more visually inclined.
With StoriesOnBoard, you will be able to perfectly visualize your user’s tasks and then position your solutions on a story map. Story mapping is a great way to build a model of user experience in a collaborative environment. What’s more, this tool only costs $7 to $15 USD per month, depending on the additional features you choose. With such a wallet-friendly price range, you have nothing to lose in trying StoriesOnBoard.
Whether you are an amateur or advanced UX practitioner, this list of UX research tools can be really handy for you to carry out UX research without hassle and help you to understand if you can align your UX design goals with the responses you expect from your targeted audience. Have you used any of these popular tools to create better digital experiences for your users? Do share with us and let the UX research community hear your voice!