Once you’ve built or designed a website, it’s absolutely vital that you perform some degree of usability testing to ensure that it’s functioning as it should. Analyzing conversion rates (the percentage of visitors to your site who perform a desired action) is also a must.
Usability and conversion rates are inextricably linked. If customers are confused, bored or unmotivated by any aspect of your site, you’re going to find it much more difficult to get them to do what you want, whether that’s buy a product, fill out a form or join a mailing list.
Usability and conversion analysis tools, such as the examples listed below, will help you design or redesign your site to make it easy and enjoyable for visitors to navigate around. Such tools can be expensive, but they needn’t be. Amongst the pricier ones below you’ll find many that are cheap or completely free to use.
Don’t feel as though you need to test on hundreds of people, running tests on just five participants can be enough to provide statistically sound results. It’s all about choosing the tools that are best suited to your specific needs and, of course, your budget.
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.
13. Google Website Optimizer (free)
Google Website Optimizer lets you test anything from headings, layouts, images, text, buttons and much more. It splits visitors into groups, presenting each one with a different combination of these elements to see which one performs the best. Known as multivariate testing, this is a great way to be sure that your site design is as effective as it could and should be.
14. Site Tuners (free consultation)
Google are not the only ones providing effective multivariate testing. Site Tuning offers a similar service, only with packages that can be designed to suit individuals. Besides multivariate testing, Site Tuners provides conversion consulting, whereby experts quickly review your site, suggesting changes to be made to landing pages and the best elements to test. You can also access free documents and resources for info.
15. Webtrends Optimize (call for quote)
Webtrends Optimize offers various tests, from A/B tests, which involve splitting visitors into two groups, testing one variable at a time, to multivariate testing and more sophisticated full factorial and fractional factorial tests, which can give you results without the wait. Optimize is really slick and comes with great support.
16. Omniture Test&Target (call for quote)
In addition to standard A/B and multivariate testing, Test&Target lets you test adverts to understand their impact on conversion rates and user experience. Furthermore, it lets you segment your visitors according to criteria including URL, geography and visitor behavior. Once segmented, you can change ads, offers and more based on each segments’ unique interests.
17. Google Site Search (free)
Adding an internal Google Site Search feature to your site is one of the easiest ways to increase conversion rates. Don’t ask visitors what they want, let them tell you every time they Search. Not only will the usability of your site improve, by analyzing the search results you’ll be able to see which elements of your site are most in demand and which are the hardest to find.
18. ClickTale (free basic package)
Like Userfyl and Clixpy, ClickTale lets you record and view how each visitor navigates their way around your site. Where ClickTale really comes into its own, however, is with its Form Analytics function, which gives you exactly the information you need to create the most user-friendly forms, boosting conversion rates. Find out which fields take too long to complete, which generate errors and which fields cause visitors to abandon the form altogether.
19. Google Analytics (free)
There are various companies offering incredibly detailed website analytics, but for most people, Google Analytics is perfectly sufficient. Not only does Google Analytics produce detailed reports, including a wealth of information about where your visitors have come from, what they click on once they get to your site and which pages are most popular, it monitors these reports constantly, alerting you to any sudden changes. You can set yourself conversion goals and keep tabs on your success.
20. Feng-Gui (free)
Upload an image of a web page to Feng-Gui and it will create a heatmap showing which aspects of the design will get the most attention. What’s unusual about this tool is that, rather than using human researchers, it simulates human vision using algorithms. You can find out the ideal places to put buttons and banners to get them noticed.
Your Turn To Talk
I hope you enjoyed this post. I’m curious to know what tools you use. Please take a minute to leave a comment below.