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UX research gives us insights, those little Eureka moments, that later being implemented into apps and websites make them resonate with the audience. Planning and then digging into tons of raw data can turn the UX Research process into a nightmare.
UX Research tools come to the rescue. Looking for your perfect UX research tool stack? Well, you’ve come to the right place. At UXArmy we are passionate about creating the best user research tools so we are regularly researching all types of UX research tools available in the market.
While traditionally and up even until today, Microsoft Excel, Word and Powerpoint (and their close cousins from Apple) remain awfully close to the researcher's life at work, many innovative tech companies have created specialised tools for user research. Here we share about the tools you will ever need to use for your user research.
#1 Information architecture (IA) tools
While Paper and Pencil are considered the best tools, large information systems need to take advantage of automation. Researchers have been using MS-Excel like programs to arrange and refine on Information architecture of websites or applications.
UXArmy offers cloud based IA solutions that will help you refine, evolve and evaluate the IA:
Card Sorting: Creating a user-friendly information architecture is very challenging. Structuring the content in the way that users want to see and to stay clear of bias while doing so is a difficult task. The whole purpose of creating such information architecture is to help users find what they are looking for. Card Sorting is a UX research method in which you write the names of the items on index cards, shuffle the deck and ask users to arrange them into piles. This helps you understand where the customer will go to find a certain type of insurance.
Tree Testing: Tree testing is a research method for assessing findability within the website or app. In tree testing, testers work with an existing set of categories and highlight where they believe an item is most likely to be located. This is also known as reverse card sorting.Card sorting would logically take place before a tree test. In fact, tree testing is a good way to validate the results from your card sorting exercises.
#2 Online Surveys
One of the most popular data collection tools and super simple, surveys are anyday researchers best friend. SurveyMonkey, TypeForm are the two standard online survey tools offering complex question types like Ranking, etc. However for simple needs, Researchers may use simple tools like Google Forms and Microsoft Forms which are most likely, already subscribed by your organization.
#3 Remote research and Usability testing tools
When Designers design interfaces, bias in terms of their preferences is natural. To get actual user feedback on how usable your website or app is, you need an actual usability testing tool like UXArmy.
UXArmy platform collects qualitative and quantitative feedback and brings them to your desk in form of Screen Interaction Videos, Voice, Survey questions, intuitive and interactive graphic visualisations. Through the UXArmy platform, people can remotely provide feedback on user friendliness and ease-of-use of your interactive Design prototypes, mobile Apps, Websites. The platform enables you to gather user feedback fast and in a cost-effective manner.
Remote user research
Since 2020, almost all user research has gone remote. Specialised tools like DeepDive, Lookback are most used and highly customized to researchers’ needs and the goto software tools for remote user interviews. In case of cost constraints or hesitation in having to learn new tools, many researchers are still using online meeting software like Skype, Zoom, MS-Teams, Google Meet, Webex and BlueJeans, etc. Using online meeting software is a great way to get you started for your in-depth interviews although they leave a lot of room for improving efficiency for aggregation of notes, putting bookmarks and task markers during research interviews.
Remote Usability Testing
By using this tool researchers can build and launch a study with predefined tasks in minutes. The testers will attempt the study and will try to do the tasks. The Usability metrics like task success rate, task completion time and navigation paths will help the researchers decide how the website will perform. Voice feedback and screen recording of the testers makes such tools really powerful to gather qualitative insights.
UXArmy offers a free version with lifetime access and no commitments whatsoever. To try out our free package click here
Online Focus groups / Bulletin boards
Community software are aplenty which let researchers run focus groups and long term online diary studies. Some of these studies by market researchers are run for days, weeks, months or even years.
Broadly, two types of online focus groups are common - Synchronous or real-time and Asynchronous or bulletin board. Usually run for longer periods of time, both options allow gathering of valuable information. These tools are similar to online communities in which users can respond to specific topics and also upload relevant video and photos. User researchers analyse data periodically and even moderate the groups actively for Synchronous focus groups.
FocusGroupit, VisionsLive and iTracks are some of the notable tools which researchers commonly use. At UXArmy, the researchers integrated online Focus groups with unmoderated usability tests to make the most of the presence of users and achieved a more engaged participation.
Eye tracking software
For remote user research, eye-tracking software has not been the top choice due to the need of additional hardware which participants need e.g. glasses. That kind of hardware being on the expensive side and also during the contact-free COVID-19 times, physical eye-trackers are not an option.
Popular players like Tobii and iMotions have come forward to create Webcam and Smartphone based solutions. However, due to the elaborate setup procedures and efforts needed in calibration, the bulk of remote user research and usability testing doesn’t include eye-tracking.
#4 Note-taking tools
A researcher and note-taker roles typically takes Notes using a Laptop or paper Diary. Post-its were hugely popular during in-person collaborative sessions. Figjam, Mural and Miro are other online collaborative tools which also facilitate remote real-time Note-taking and affinity mapping thereafter.
However, the latest breed of researchers seem to have fallen in love with Notion.so. Notion offers three facilities - a powerful notes taking app, a task and project manager, and a reference wiki. While Evernote has its loyal base of users who aren’t switching to Notion just yet, Notion has started to convert some of the Evernote users. It appears to be the most promising Note taking utility, at least for now.
#5 Analytics tools
To improve the user experience, researchers start with doing a UX Audit. In order to surface as many trouble spots as possible, using the existing quantitative information from Google analytics is imperative to help in understanding potential user problems in reaching their goals. This data can be information about how long users stay on a website, what pages they visit and what pages they are missing, what are typical user flows, etc. Some might argue that Google Analytics for UX researchers is overwhelming, but if you know what specific information you need and where to find it within, it is not unbearably complex.
From another perspective, the findings from a usability test can be verified by triangulating with the data from Google analytics. You can check it right now — Google has a demo account that you can access and explore the possibilities of this tool.
Other Behaviour analytics tools
The market of analytics tools is actually crowded. Some of these tools also facilitate A/B Testing. Examples of such tools include Hotjar, Crazyegg, MixPanel, etc. Thanks to their in-page information about user behavior, these tools serve as an addition to information from Google Analytics.
With this powerful combination, you can figure out what needs to change on your site. The information generated from these tools is very important for researchers to build hypotheses for their research. After UX enhancements to the website are implemented, these tools can help to measure the impact of changes and thus help to create a smoother experience for the customers.
#6 Interactive Prototyping
Even if researchers do not need to create design prototypes, they use these artefacts for their research. Also some UX Designers perform Usability testing. So a UX tools discussion shall be incomplete without including prototyping tools. With plenty of prototyping cum Design tools out there like Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD and pure prototyping tools like Proto.io, Protopie, etc., one tool clearly outclassed long standing tools like InvisionApp. No prizes for guessing, it is Figma.
In the earlier period of digital design, Photoshop was the universal design tool. Then, an interface design community packed up their stuff and migrated from Photoshop to Sketch, a product created specifically for collaborative product design teams. Sketch’s preview feature made it easy to showcase prototypes and get feedback. Sketch's autosave feature has given us a sigh of relief.
A bit later Figma arrived to revolutionize the way that design teams collaborate one more time. Figma started very similarly to Sketch, but with one significant difference — the freemium tier. Later, Figma began adding unique killer features, like live collaboration or the before-mentioned feature for switching between different accounts Much like Google Docs, Figma allows multiple designers to work with a single document, and it’s probably the main reason why Figma clearly surpasses Sketch now. UXArmy’s UXtoolkit supports Figma Integration and prototype testing.
#7 Research Recruitment
One of the biggest challenges in research recruitment is the logistics. This space is still not overloaded with digital tools and there is space for innovation. Today, researchers work with programs like Microsoft Excel for making screeners, Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar like programs for scheduling interviews with participants. User Panels like UserAdvocate (by UXArmy) and Ethnio exist. Distribution of incentives remains a challenge.
#8 Research Repositories
After the closure of a research phase in the project, the Research insights are usually deeply embedded in Keynote or Powerpoints. After a few years, it is hard to search for those insights because of the difficulties in Searching through information inside documents.
There is a need for a central hub for storing, analyzing, and collaborating on user research to aid product improvements. Some user research repositories automate tasks like trend detection, user sentiment analysis therefore making research effective and its outcome lasting. Condens and Dovertailapp are more commonly heard.
Your best UX research tools are always with you, and the most important one is free. That's your ability to think and your ability to talk to users and stakeholders. (Almost) all the rest, called to make your life easier, is available for trial or in a freemium version. So, if you’ve met anything new on our list, why not try now?
To know how to plan a user research read our blog on ‘ What is UX Research? How has it evolved?’ that will tell you exactly what types of user research there are and how you can design one for your website.
UXTOOLS, Userresearch, usabilitytesting
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