Usability testing tools

Posted on December 7, 2023
9 min read

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 Identifying exactly what you need from a usability testing tool can be a challenge—especially if you’ve never used one before. We find the easiest way to pinpoint what you need is to look beyond a slick interface and features, and define a scenario (or two) that resonates with your situation. By looking at what you already have (or don’t), it’ll be much easier to determine what you’ll need to move forward. For any kind of scenario, here’s how you should address them. 

Define Your Design Scenario

Scenario one: “We haven’t designed anything yet or we have an existing design, but we’re thinking of redesigning.”

Address this by: 

  • Figuring out what users really need and want by observing them in context 
  • Asking target users about their behaviors, preferences, attitudes, and opinions
  • Evaluating what your competitors are doing and where the opportunities are

Scenario two: “We’re in the design phase, but we haven’t launched anything yet.” 

Address this by: 

  • Gathering data for designing key user flows, navigation, and structure
  • Putting designs in front of users and getting feedback

Scenario three: “We just launched something brand new, or we have an existing design and want to know how it resonates with users.” 

Address this by: 

  • Putting designs in front of users and getting feedback
  • Getting ideas for A/B studies to understand why one version converted better than another
  • Getting a pulse on your current experience, to measure against it as you iterate and improve, or benchmark your new design against your previous design

How should I evaluate a usability testing tool? 

No usability testing tool is built the same. As you assess the options, consider the following components and factor in your organization’s needs and priorities: 

1. Study participants 

  • How many participants can I test with? 
  • How are participants chosen? Are they vetted in any way? 

2. Dashboard organization 

  • If we have several teams using this solution, is there a way to organize our work? 
  • Can we download the results to store in another place if we want?

3. Study templates 

  • Will it be possible to create and store a set of research templates that other people in our organization can use? 
  • What happens if we start setting up a study but realize we’re not ready to run it yet—do we lose our work?

4. Turnaround time 

  • How quickly can we expect to get results? 
  • What are your service level agreements for studies?

5. Device options

  • What types of devices are we going to be able to test? 
  • Which platforms do you currently support?

6. Seat licenses 

  • What is the cost per user or admin and is there a limit to how many seats we can have on the platform? 
  • Is there admin functionality?

7. Study types 

  • Is it possible to run a longitudinal study with the same set of participants over a longer period of time? 
  • Do you partner with any other companies? If so, what are the benefits to your customers? How do they work together?

8. Results and reports 

  • What are the exact deliverables we can expect with this solution? 
  • Do you offer additional analysis and executive summaries I can easily share with others?

9. Expert resources

  • What’s the background of your key employees? 
  • Would it be possible to have your team do all of the work for us? How much will that cost? 
  • What are your customer support hours, and how do we get help when we’re in a crunch?

What to look for in a usability testing tool 

With any usability testing tool, you’ll want to ensure you have the ability to: 

1. Target your customers 

The UserTesting platform offers two options to pick from. The Contributor Network is made up of real people around the world. Each contributor has opted-in, qualified, and been properly vetted to provide their perspectives on your brand and products. With our demographic filters and the ability to customize screener questions, you’ll have all you need to narrow down your search for the right participants. 

Have a specific audience in mind? You can also choose from the UserTesting Custom Network, Invite Network, or Community Network to recruit on your own. 

2. Ask your customers 

With UserTesting, you can create a test plan to ask any question or request people to perform tasks—anything from UI, UX design, holistic CX, and more. If you need inspiration on what to ask your users, browse the template gallery to use as your guide. 

We also have diverse test capabilities for almost any kind of priority or need, whether you need insights through live interviews, usability testing, card sorting, tree testing, and more. 

3. Watch your customers’ experience

Customer experience narratives (CxNs) give you a first-hand view of your customers’ experience through video. Watch their experience, hear the inflection in their voice, and observe their body language. 

4. Learn from your customers 

Build customer empathy and intuition quickly with visualizations, transcripts, metrics, and analysis. Learn from digital and real-world interactions.

5. Share your insights 

Share insights easily across the organization. Without having to leave the UserTesting platform, you’ll be able to auto-generate analytics and transcriptions and create highlight reels to back up your ideas, which you can download, export, or share in your favorite tools like Slack, JIRA, and Trello.
 

6 Leading usability testing tools

Choosing the right usability testing platform is critical for improving user experience and ensuring that digital products meet the needs of their target audience. Usability testing offers invaluable insights into how users interact with a product, identifying areas for improvement and validating design decisions.

By leveraging these tools, teams can streamline their development process, enhance user satisfaction, and ultimately drive higher conversion rates and user retention. Here's an in-depth look at six popular usability testing tools, highlighting their key features and benefits to help you make an informed decision.

1. UserTesting

A snapshot of UserTesting's analysis interface, demonstrating sentiment tracking and feedback transcription functionalities to streamline the user research process

Overview:

You didn’t think we would forget to include UserTesting did you?

Specializing in providing rich customer experience narratives through video feedback, enabling product teams to see and hear direct user interactions with their designs, UserTesting offers a comprehensive testing and customer feedback platform that enables teams to gather feedback from a diverse user base across various demographics.

It allows for the recording of user interactions with your product, providing insights through video feedback, and facilitating live conversations for in-depth understanding, along with a powerful set of features for automating the usability testing process

Usage:

UserTesting is used by UX researchers, product managers, marketers, and designers looking to validate concepts, iterate on designs based on user feedback, and understand user behavior and preferences in depth.

Benefits:

  • Access to a vast and diverse panel of users for broad feedback.
  • Ability to conduct both live and recorded sessions for flexibility in gathering insights.
  • Integrations with project management tools for seamless workflow.

Unique Features:

  • Its extensive user base allows for testing across a wide array of demographics.
  • Live Conversation feature enables real-time interaction with users for deeper insights.

2. Lookback

An example of a remote user interview session conducted using a usability testing platform, featuring real-time annotations and feedback capabilities

Overview:

Lookback provides tools for conducting live, interactive user research sessions, including in-depth interviews and usability testing. It allows product teams to engage directly with users in real time, capturing detailed feedback through video and audio recordings.

With features like "Remote LiveShare" and "SelfTest with Scheduling,"

Lookback facilitates both synchronous and asynchronous research, offering flexibility in gathering user insights. It's particularly useful for qualitative research and understanding user emotions and reactions.

Usage:

Ideal for UX researchers and designers who need to conduct in-depth user interviews and want to observe user interactions live. It is also used for remote usability testing, where observing the user’s facial expressions and reactions can offer additional context to their feedback.

Benefits:

  • Real-time interaction capabilities enhance the depth of user feedback.
  • Cloud-based storage simplifies the organization and review of test sessions.
  • Facilitates both moderated and unmoderated testing.

Unique Features:

  • Offers “Live” broadcasting, allowing entire teams to observe user testing sessions remotely.
  • The ability to timestamp recordings helps pinpoint exact moments of interest during analysis.

3. Hotjar

A visual representation of user interaction on a webpage as depicted by a heatmap tool, identifying areas of frequent activity

Overview:

Hotjar excels in visualizing user behavior on websites and apps through heatmaps, session recordings, and surveys. Its heatmaps show where users click, move, and scroll, providing a clear picture of user engagement and areas of interest.

Hotjar's session recordings allow teams to observe actual user interactions, while feedback tools enable direct user communication. It's a great solution for tracking, understanding, and optimizing user experience.

Usage:

Hotjar is used by web designers, digital marketers, and product teams interested in optimizing their websites and applications to improve user engagement and conversion rates.

Benefits:

  • Visual heatmaps offer an intuitive understanding of user interactions.
  • Session recordings provide context to user actions and decision-making processes.
  • Surveys and feedback polls gather direct user insights.

Unique Features:

  • Heatmaps provide a visual representation of data, making it easy to understand complex user behaviors.
  • The feedback tool directly collects user insights, allowing for quick iterations based on user suggestions.

4. Loop11

Loop11 interface showcasing a user task analysis for an airline's website, reflecting task completion rates and participant engagement.

Overview:

Loop11 is a powerful usability testing tool designed to fit seamlessly into agile development cycles. It supports quick test creation, user feedback gathering, and informed iteration, offering features like heatmaps, session replays, and conversion funnels.

Usage:

Loop11 stands out for its focus on integrating usability testing into agile development cycles. It offers quick setup, immediate feedback, and a variety of testing features including heatmaps, session replays, and conversion funnels.

With integration capabilities with tools like Slack and Google Analytics, Loop11 streamlines the process of implementing user feedback into product iterations, making it ideal for teams following agile methodologies.

Benefits:

  • Agile-friendly, supporting quick setups and fast result turnarounds.
  • Comprehensive testing features, including heatmaps and session replays.
  • Facilitates testing on a wide range of devices and platforms.

Unique Features:

  • Tailored for agile development, offering tools that align with rapid iteration cycles.
  • Provides detailed analytics and visualization tools to understand user behavior better.

5. Maze

Navigating Maze's mission setup to define user tasks and expected paths within a clean and structured UI, accompanied by a realistic mobile app preview.

Overview:

Maze is a continuous discovery platform that supports unmoderated usability testing integrated with design tools like Adobe and Figma. It enables the testing of prototypes and provides actionable insights through survey templates, analytics, and reports.

Maze's participant recruitment and test automation features make it an excellent choice for teams looking to run usability tests efficiently and gather data to inform design decisions.

Benefits:

  • Supports a wide range of testing methods for comprehensive insights.
  • Allows for rapid test creation and distribution for efficient feedback gathering.
  • Offers detailed analytics for data-driven decision-making.

Unique Features:

  • Live website testing capability for post-launch optimization.
  • Integrated reporting tools provide clear insights for immediate action.

6. Crazy Egg

Understanding user engagement through Crazy Egg's heatmap visualization, highlighting the most interactive sections of a website to inform design and usability enhancements.

Overview:

Crazy Egg specializes in website optimization through heatmap technology, session recordings, and A/B testing. Its heatmaps provide detailed visual data on user clicks, scrolls, and mouse movements, helping identify user engagement hotspots.

Crazy Egg's A/B testing and conversion optimization tools offer data-driven insights for improving website design and user flows. It's a powerful tool for understanding and enhancing user interaction on websites.

Usage:

Crazy Egg is widely used by website owners, digital marketers, and UX designers looking to increase user engagement, reduce bounce rates, and improve conversion rates through data-driven website optimization.

Benefits:

  • Heatmaps and scroll maps offer deep insights into user engagement.
  • A/B testing features test different design variations.
  • User recordings help understand the user's journey through your website.

Unique Features:

  • Easy-to-use interface for setting up tests and analyzing results.
  • Detailed visualization tools like heatmaps make it easy to interpret user data.
  • Provides actionable insights to optimize website design and user flow.

While each tool offers unique features and benefits, an all-in-one platform like UserTesting might be a superior choice for those looking for a comprehensive solution. UserTesting's broad range of testing capabilities, extensive user base, and depth of insights provide a robust foundation for understanding user experiences across various demographics and scenarios. Its ability to capture nuanced user feedback through video and integrate with other project management tools makes it a versatile and efficient choice for businesses aiming to enhance their digital products meaningfully.

Want to learn more?

Explore UX best practices, expert advice, user research templates, and more.

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