Usability & Feedback Tools
1. Silverback (free for 30 days then $49.95)
Before Silverback, people used to film user reactions to their sites with camcorders during testing, a slow an arduous process involving hours of video editing, not to mention intimidation of test subjects. Silverback, a fantastic app for Mac OSX (with iSight or equivalent) lets you film how a user responds to your site and track their clicks too. You can set chapter markers in the video, when something interesting happens, simply by pressing the “+” button on the Apple remote.
2. Usabilla (free for 5 pages)
Test your web page at any stage in the design process with Usabilla. Simply upload the URL or a picture from your hard drive, choose from predefined test questions or create your own, and invite people to participate in the study by emailing them a link, embedding a widget in your website, or simply pressing the Twitter or Facebook button.
Once you’ve done that, sit back and wait for the data to start pouring in. Usabilla tracks where participants click on your web page, recording the results of different questions in different colors. Participants can also add notes to clicks on the page, which you can view easily.
3. Clixpy ($5 for 100 recorded sessions)
4. Crazy Egg ($9 for basic package)
5. Five Second Test (free basic package)
The Five Second Test comes in two flavors: Memory Test and Click Test. The Memory Test gives participants a meager five seconds to look at your web page or design before attempting to recall specific elements. The Click Test gives users an equally scant five seconds to click on an element that you identify. Simply upload your page or design, choose which test you wish to run as well as certain parameters, and invite friends, colleagues and randoms to take part in your test with a unique link.
6. Userfly (free basic package)
Similar to Clixpy, but with a more attractive interface, Userfly records everything that each visitor to your site does, listing each recorded visit for you to replay individually. As well as listing how many user sessions are captured, it clearly shows next to each one how many pages were viewed in each session and for how long. Simply select a session and it pops up in a new window. Press play to gain a valuable insight into how that specific user interacted with your site.
7. Morae ($1,495)
Morae is a far more comprehensive tool that the others in this list and can be used to gather feedback on more than just websites, but that’s to be expected considering its rather hefty price tag. $1,495 buys you a bundle consisting of Morae Recorder, Observer and Manager, which can be installed on up to three different computers.
Using cameras, Recorder records how a specific user interacts with your site. Other people can watch this live on their computers, making notes if necessary, using Observer. Finally, video, audio and computer data, as well as notes are synced up and saved as an RDG file, which is then viewed, analyzed and shared in Manager.
8. Feedback Army (from $10)
If you want to get feedback on a certain aspect of your site quickly and inexpensively, you need the Feedback Army. $10, paid with your credit card or Paypal account, buys you 10 responses to any questions you submit. There’s no guarantee how quickly you’ll see a response, but usually it only takes an hour or so. The more questions you ask, the longer it takes to receive replies.
9. Kampyle (free basic package)
Kampyle is a highly effective tool for getting feedback on your site. Once installed, an attractive green “Feedback” tab is added to the side of your chosen web page. When visitors click on it, a survey pops up for them to complete. You can manage all your feedback in a really intuitive way on the Kampyle website.
10. Ethnio (first 20 recruits are free)
Ethnio isn’t a usability tool in itself, but it’s a great way of recruiting people to take part in usability research and so is worthy of a place in this list. Once signed up to Ethnio, you can create a screener, which is added as a pop-up to your site, to find suitable respondents for research. Once somebody signs up to take part, you’re alerted and can choose to email them or just call them there and then. It’s all done remotely so you don’t need to meet any strangers face-to-face.
11. Open Hallway ($49 per month)
Accessible from anywhere, Open Hallway is an entirely browser based tool which tests sites for usability with a minimum of fuss. It couldn’t be simpler. You just sign up, enter the URL of the site you wish to test, issue instructions to the tester and click to generate a link, which can be emailed to potential participants. The tester then clicks the link, reads the instructions and presses “Start” to begin a recording of their session. The session is finally uploaded for you to view, complete with screen-captured video and voice recording.
12. Concept Feedback (free – premium concepts are $9.99)
Concept Feedback let’s you post design concepts that people can then review and give you feedback on. This is a great tool if you’re looking to improve your current site design or are working on a redesign. Getting impartial feedback from members can help improve your design tremendously