User testing is an intricate part of UX design. Understanding how your user interacts with your design is crucial to crafting the best user experience to help visitors to achieve their task and overall to increase conversions.
Running your own user testing lab, including finding and hiring your own target audience and setting up hardware can be expensive and time-consuming. Here we take a look at some of the most useful and popular user testing software to get you started.
Hotjar contains a host of useful tools for analysing your site. Crazy Egg may be the one that springs to mind when you think of heat maps, but Hotjar has them too, so you can see which parts of your interface are getting the most clicks and taps.
You can see recordings of people's mouse trails so you can get an idea of how they're navigating your site, and the Conversion Funnels utility lets you know at which point people are dropping out of a purchase or sign-up process. These can be really revealing - the funnel lets you know exactly which point needs tweaking in order to get better results from your design.
There are a few other great tools in here, including form analysis and feedback polls, so Hotjar should definitely be on your shortlist of usability testing suites.
02. UX Recorder
This iOS testing suite enables you to capture all the user data you could wish for: as well as detailing every tap and swipe, this software records the user's facial expressions using the iPhone camera, and anything they may mutter during the process via the microphone. The result is a complete picture that gives you the best chance of uncovering areas where people might struggle with your interface.
Unfortunately you can't test native apps with this; it's for websites only.
UX design suite UXPin now includes a usability testing tool that enables you to record user behaviour. You can listen to their comments via voice call, see every click, and even watch their facial expressions as they navigate through your design.
UXPin also provides this usability testing kit which contains templates for your test reports, scripts, consent forms and more.
Screen mirroring app Reflector isn't designed specifically for usability testing, but it's useful for mobile testing as it wirelessly sends your phone or tablet screen to your PC or Mac so you can watch how people use your app. The latest version includes recording capabilities so you can review your testing sessions later.
05. User Testing
One of the best and most simple ways to record users interacting with your website and to record their response is on video using User Testing.
You pick your target audience and assign this user a task to perform on your website or app – your test can be run on a desktop, tablet or mobile device. In return User Testing will record real people giving their thoughts whilst interacting with your website/app to truly understand why users do what they do. You can try out User Testing for free.
06. Crazy Egg
Uncover how visitors interact with your website with x-ray glasses using Crazy Egg. Crazy Egg provides heat map software to understand what people are doing on your website and why they may not be converting. Heat maps identify which objects on your website are being clicked on and from which traffic source they were referred from.
An extremely helpful tool is the scroll map, which identifies how far visitors scroll down a page before they abandon the page entirely. Other features include providing numbers of clicks on each element of a page.
Inspectlet is software that records your website visitors and monitors exactly what they are doing on your website, including what links they click on, mouse movement, scrolling and key-presses on your site. You can view each visitor as if you're overlooking their shoulder.
Beyond recording user interaction on your website, Inspectlet includes a heat map, which allows you to see what visitors are paying attention to. The heat map also identifies eye tracking, what has been clicked on the most and how far visitors scroll. And as an added bonus, the form analytics tool highlights which form elements are the most troublesome for visitors and where they are failing the most.
08. A/B Testing with Optimizely
A/B testing is an extremely effective way to test changes on a web page compared to the existing design. To determine which one produces the highest level of positive results. Of course, Google Analytics offers Experiments to allow you to perform A/B testing on your website.
However, a more robust software for A/B testing is Optimizely. Optimizely offers several easy-to-use features to help you build your tests including multivariate testing – a technique to test multiple variables on a given web page. You can create personalised experiences and target specific audiences when unveiling new designs to visitors including targeting different URLs, browsers and geography.
If you would like to gather customer feedback on your website, Usabilla is a great asset to gather visual feedback. It offers a customisable feedback button which you can place on your website. Visitors can actively select particular elements on a given webpage and provide detailed feedback for improvements or highlight any bugs.
Usabilla also encompasses a slide out poll, which helps to gather 'emotional' rating. All this data is summarised and can be viewed with insightful graphs all within the Usabilia dashboard.
10. User Zoom
User Zoom is a premium level, fully packaged user experience research and analytics platform. Besides capturing user interaction it also provides powerful analytics data.
User Zoom contains a wealth of features for collecting user experience data. With User Zoom you may test websites and prototypes plus you can remotely record users testing on your website with their feedback. You can perform market research by evaluating multiple websites and competitor websites to provide UX benchmarking. The User Zoom dashboard contains insightful reports with user actions, number of clicks, unique views, heat maps and more.
Morae is a fantastic testing suite for anyone wanting to manage all the user testing in-house. Morae is provided by TechSmith who also offer screen recording software. Morae is a comprehensive testing application that resides on the practitioners computer. This software allows you to perform usability testing sessions by recording the user's interaction, incorporate surveys and analysing and editing the final result. Morae allows you to easily share your research with your team.
There are many pieces of software out there designed to help you understand user behaviour and provide helpful and insightful feedback to help further develope your website or app. However, which becomes your go-to user testing tool will depend very much on what your requirements are and which interface appeals most to you.
I suggest trying out the free trial versions of the suggested software, where it's available, to see how well it suits your needs before taking the plunge.
This is an expanded and updated version of an article by Steven Wu.