How to find usability testing apps that won’t cost the Earth

I was asked by a client to find a software or app that would help with their usability testing for a new startup website. I went and found the market leaders and I was gob smacked at the high costs of this service. You can easily be billed $40,000 for this service.

That is unless you read this post.

My client does have a budget, but most were way over what he could afford, so I decided to do some research and found some usability testing services that were excellent and easy to use and would come within my client’s budget.

Usability testing: A quick intro. Usability testing? You might ask… what is it? Why do you need it? What does it all cost? Which apps are the best for the price?

I asked all these questions when I first started ted out, I got on Google and here is what I found out.

Basically, usability testing is for testing and solving your website or apps UX and UI weaknesses and address the issues fast. Plug the holes that are surely there (yes, even your ‘perfect’ site bud). At the end of the day we all want more sales right?

This is how you maximize your site or app or games potential. That’s got to be a good thing.

Here is some more in depth background. You can jump straight to the reviews if you don’t want know the detail or you are already clued up.

Website Usability Testing When building a new website, there are many factors to consider. Of course, your site needs to please graphically, be fast loading and have solid, engaging content.

The information needs to be clear and easy to read.

However, your website should also be easy to use, have an effective sales funnel but, at the end of the day your site needs to function flawlessly.

Although most users these days are tech savvy, they still do not want to be fighting your bad UX to get the service or product that they require.

They will go to your competitor’s website that flows flawlessly. Obviously.

So how do you identify any problems that your UX might have?

Well, you might ask the development team to test it over and over again. You can even do it yourself, but the number of tests needed will mean that it is more cost effective to use a Usability Testing App or hire a testing service.

What is the definition of usability? Ease, speed, memorability, erros and satisfaction. Usability is, in simple terms; a means to measure how easy anything is to use. Sorry if that sounds obvious.

Any ‘thing’ should be usable right? Whether a tennis racquet, a dog lead or a fridge. But how to measure its effectiveness is the key here.

Usability testing of websites and apps is no different, it just takes a unique approach. The apps and services reviewed below are specifically designed to help you get the best possible UX and sales from your website or app.

How easy is it for users to achieve their needs when first encountering the site?

At what speed can a user complete their tasks? If users can access your competitor’s site in half the time they can on your site, you have a problem.

Regarding memorability, if a user returns to the site, how quickly do they remember how to navigate the site and perform useful tasks?

Errors that the user makes (can they recover or do they bolt for the ‘door’?) and also encounter (problems with the app)

Satisfaction is how satisfying is it to use the design?

What is so important about Website Usability? For websites, usability is essential for its survival. If a site is difficult to use, users will leave.

If the website fails to clearly define what it is what is it that it does or sells, visitors will be lost.

If a user has any problem at all, whether navigation, functionality, coding errors or just plain don’t like the ‘look’ of your design, you will lose them.

What goes on in a test? What does it look like? I saw this excellent video example of the user testing journey courtesy of Userfeel.com. This detailed test of car rental company websites focuses on speed, ease of use and customer impression. The whole process is shown in its entirety from beginning to end.

So, we have established the what, how and why of usability testing, now here are my views some of the market leaders.

UserZoom.com Userzoom is a well-known brand in usability testing. With clients such as Bupa and Hewlett Packard.

It has detailed analytics as expected and so truly deep data is outputted.

UserZoom provides you with quantitative as well as qualitative data. Uncover useful results for analyzing post-test. Knowing where and what your user is experiencing helps you target their needs.

PROs Great support if you have the premium plans.

Audio, video, screenshots and even more, a ‘spy’ cam to watch users facial expressions.

Can be used for apps and sites still in development stage.

CONs UserZoom is pricey compared to the other services, and excellent features such as the webcam are only available in the premium plans.

Implementation was reported as being hard by a user at Gartner.com.

The app is seen as useful and practical, but just too pricey with annual licenses starting at $25,000 a year.

UserTesting.com Usertesting.com is a great all-round tool for website usability besting. This is one of the better-known names in the niche.

The aim of the software is to make your website and/or apps more user-friendly.

Monitoring your users’ activities is achieved through video recordings of actual users.

The data output helps to make quick analysis and can be shared easily with your team.

PROs You can use the prescreened testers, or you can import your own team if needed.

Remote desktop screen recorder and customer experience analytics

Dedicated project management teams availablein the PRO plans.

Devices Supported include Windows, Linux and Mac.

CONs Cost: User research for individuals: $49 per video intro offer for your first 10 videos. Mobile testing is a premium upgrade.

After your first 10 tests, they require a contract that can be 40-50.000$. Watch out for that.

Userfeel.com Userfeel.com was built having easiness for the UX researcher in mind. With actual tests being played back to you through video including the user’s voice and reactions. Following the whole journey from start to finish.

Highly detailed reports as expected for a leading testing App.

PROs No fixed contracts – you can test ALL the App features once for a one-off fee of $49, which allows you to see how this service rocks without committing to a product you do not yet know.

Quick and easy

Fast and excellent support.

The multilingual panel allows users from across the globe to test in many of the top languages such as German, French, Korean, Spanish, Italian and more.

You need a French-speaking tester to test usability in French but report in English? No problem. This is a distinct advantage for international websites.

You can use the tool for both qualitative and quantitative analysis through excellent reporting.

CONs Windows 7 users reported some small glitches with the App. This was back in February, so I expect that to have been cleared up.

Sample test price of $49 is desktop only. For both mobile and desktop, the price is $99. (however, you are not tied into long term contracts).

Crazy Egg Crazyegg is a heatmap software and as you expect from a Usability service it serves detailed data on why visitors might be leaving your website, how they navigate your site and from where, why and how they arrived.

PROs The heatmaps and scrollmap views show where, when, why and how long users spend on your site. Once you identify this data, you can then target the users much more effectively.

Simple to set up and to use.

CONs Support is not the best. Hopefully, you never need to contact them.

UI is reported to be a little user-unfriendly.

Cost: $108/year for the basic desktop version. Be aware that mobile and desktop is a premium service however.

Final thoughts on usability testing To design the best UX, pay attention to what the users do, not necessarily what they tell you they do. Users verbal experiences are just too unreliable. Their wants are very different than their needs (or so they imagine), so that is why the Usability services listed above were set up.

These software and apps detail what users actually do on your website: how they navigate and how they might abandon the site altogether at a particular section. This is essential information.

I read that 5 or so tests was enough in Jacob Nielsen’s opinion. So it was easy to come within the client’s budget.

The price for such a test is undoubtedly worth it if you are spending 10s of 1000s of dollars on product development and marketing, then you need to know where your sales funnel is failing.

Hope that helped some of you guys. I’m going to be a bit busy this week but if I am able I will get back to you here later in case anyone has any questions.

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