Usability testing tools

22 Dec 2014

Usability testing is one of those things that should be part of the design/development process but it seldom is.

Testing should be a continuous process that is providing feedback so that the te app can be improved. I think part of the reason that usability testing isn’t always performed is that - if done the traditional way - it is expensive and time consuming. You usually need to plan your test, recruit the participants and then analyze and interpret the results.

##Alternatives to traditional usability testing

I have recently come across some tools that can be really helpful with discovering usability flaws with your website. There might be others but this is what I tried:

###Inspectlet

This is the service that I like the most and ended up using. It workes really well without having to configure it. You just add their script and you can start watching individual visitors use your site as if you were looking over your shoulder. You can see pretty much everything they do : mouse movement, clicks, filled in forms etc.

ProTip: Don’t forget to exclude sensitive content from the capture. You can, and should, mark sensitive parts of the website. You just add a “inspectletIgnore” class to elements that should be ignored. Read more about handling sensitive data.

The beauty of a service like this is that you actually get feedback from real users which you can’t usually get with regular user testing.

###Mouseflow and Sessioncam

These two services do pretty much the same thing but their UI is less polished and - at lest for Mouseflow - you have to spend more time configuring. Their main advantage is price. Both services have less expensive starting plans so you can get your feet wet without too much of a financial investment.

###Peek

This is actually quite different. It’s the free version of UserTesting and you get a free test every month. There is no scenario for the test and the visitor isn’t necessarely your target audience so there isn’t a lot of value provided. It’s free and it doesn’t hurt to try it but don’t expect too much out of it.

##Pricing for these user testing tools

Service Price Free plan?
Inspectlet Paid plans start at $39 Free plan with 100 sessions/month (limited to 4/day)
MouseFlow Paid plans start at $19 Free plan with 100 sessions/month
Sessioncam Paid plans start at $10 Free plan with 500 sessions/month

Peek is a free service with a limit of 1 video/month.

##Conclusion

I would go with Inspectlet - It’s not the cheapest but it is polished and works really well.