The complete list of user research tools

35 resources to you help create user-centered digital products and services

For running remote user interviews: video meeting and recording apps


Skype for Business
Has a built-in meeting recording function, perfect for capturing remote user interviews. Note: if you have regular Skype (or any other free video meeting apps, like Google Hangouts), plugin apps like Callnote can give you the same functionality).

A premium video meeting app, with recording capability – starts at £12 per month

Live Conversation (User Testing)
Part of enterprise UX platform User Testing (covered separately below), takes care of participant recruitment, meeting scheduling, live video chat hosting, and recording, all out of the box.

For capturing in-person usability testing sessions: screen recording software


Great lo-fi and cost-effective option for Mac users, SilverBack describes itself as the ‘no nonsense usability testing app’. It’s basically a specialist screen recording software set up to run and manage your user testing sessions. A basic version (with watermark) is free. To remove watermark, the full version costs $29.

Primarily designed as a user-friendly video recording/editing software, it also works well for capturing testing sessions — and the ability to add effects and annotate recordings, is a nifty feature for internal reporting purposes. Free trial is available, full version costs $129.

Similar kind of thing as ScreenFlow, with ability to record user sessions, as well as add animations, effects, and annotations for later internal reference. Free trial available, full licence costs $199

For running remote usability testing: web-based UX apps and platforms


User Testing
One of a few ‘all-singing, all-dancing’ UX research platforms, including a suite of tools such as remote video user testing, surveys, and a video chat solution (Live Conversation). Mostly geared up for bespoke enterprise solutions, a basic ‘Individual’ plan allows up to 15 user sessions a year, at $49 a pop.

User Zoom
Similar enterprise-level tool as User Testing, offering an impressive array of UX research tools — from video usability testing, to surveys, intercept feedback polls, card sorting, tree testing, and click tests. Tailored pricing and quotes are available upon request.

Usability Hub
Offers a suite of pre-designed user tests, including click testing, five second (first impression) tests, preference tests, and feedback polls. A free basic plan is available, with three tiers of paid plan depending on requirements.

Look Back
Keeps things nice and simple, offering apps for live moderated and unmoderated remote testing, — and also includes software for running in-person test sessions.

User Brain
Great option for testing your site with first-time users. Simply sign up, enter in your website details, and start receiving weekly videos of general public participants testing your site. User Brain takes care of the participant recruitment and compensation. For $69 a month you receive one video per week, with higher tier plans available for more videos.

For collecting user feedback: web form surveys, intercept surveys, and polls


Self-described as ‘the beautiful and conversational survey tool’, Typeform stands apart from bog-standard form surveys. Its versatility and ability to simulate organic conversation, lends itself to many contexts (including user research surveys/feedback). A basic free version is available, with option to upgrade for more fancy-schmancy features.

Survey Monkey
One of the most widely used of the wider, ‘traditional’ online survey tools. Plans also start with a basic free version.

Google forms
Lo-fi option, if you’re on a budget. Does the basics (designing surveys and collecting data) well.

Allows you to subtly integrate well-designed user feedback mechanisms right into your web pages, apps, and even emails. With Usabilla, you can easily set up in-page sentiment polls and feedback buttons, allowing you to quantify and benchmark user satisfaction. Another cool feature is a visual user feedback tool, allowing users to highlight and annotate particular aspects of your page — ideal for getting specific direction on exactly what needs to change.

A real-time feedback tool, similar in nature to Usabilla. However, if ‘going deep’ on audience analysis is your thing, Qualaroo’s advanced targeting package allows you to segment and intelligently present customised feedback tools, based on the context of where the user has come from, or even based on previous feedback provided.

Hotjar (feedback polls, incoming feedback and surveys)
Hotjar is like the Swiss Army knife of UX research platforms: it delivers on many of the basic tools you need to get closer to your users, at an unbeatable price point. Hotjar’s feedback polls, incoming feedback and survey functions allow you to quickly benchmark user sentiment and satisfaction, receive visual in-page feedback and suggestions, and set up form surveys. And it also includes some other useful features, too (more on that later). A limited version of the tool is completely free, with paid plans starting at just €29 per month.

For user participation in ideation and design: concept testing and card sorting tools


Optimal Workshop
Optimal Workshop offers multiple tools to help your team validate your design concepts through user feedback. Key tools to highlight, include:

  • OptimalSort: used to run remote card sorting to help define your site or app’s information architecture. Card sorting basically involves presenting a bunch of cards representing you product’s key content areas and user tasks, and inviting users to arrange, group, and label them into a structure that they find most intuitive.
  • TreeJack: for remote tree testing (or ‘reverse card sorting’), where users are presented with a draft IA in clickable tree diagram form (ideally, based on card sort results), and asked to complete common tasks and browsing behaviours to validate its usability.
  • Chalkmark: ideal for getting first impression feedback on wireframes or designs, before implementing them. Simply upload designs, set user tasks, then recruit participants to get valuable feedback on the usability of your designs.

5 second test (Usability Hub)
A quick and easy way to validate designs, through the good ol’ fashioned tactic of a memory test. It couldn’t be simpler: a user is presented with your uploaded design for precisely 5 seconds. Once the design disappears, the user is asked a series of recall questions, of your choosing — based on the most crucial content and design elements of the page.

Offering a range of pay-as-you-test options for canvassing users on your designs — from A/B preference tests, to click tests, NPS sentiment polls, and general surveys. Helio’s pricing structure is credits-based: $1 credit per test response.

For measuring UX performance: heatmap, A/B testing, and conversion analytics tools


As well as offering all of the previously mentioned user feedback features, Hotjar also has some clever analytics tools in its locker. First, you’ve got a nifty heatmap tool, allowing you to visualise exactly where users are clicking, moving, and scrolling down your page. On top of that, Hotjar offers visitor recordings — yep, actual recordings of real users moving around your site (which is kind of weird initially, but you get used to it). And… then there’s its conversion funnel analytics, where you can identify at which exact stage of a journey your users are dropping off. When you consider all of this is offered from $29 per month (or free, for a limited version), Hotjar represents a pretty sweet deal for the budget-minded.

Crazy Egg
In a similar vein to Hotjar, Crazy Egg offers a suite of heatmap, user feedback, and visitor recording functions, at a similarly competitive price bracket (paid plains starting at $29 per month). In addition, Crazy Egg includes a basic A/B testing tool, providing a super-simple way to set up conversion/UX tests, in order to know where and how to make further improvements to your site.

Describing itself as a ‘product experience’ platform, Pendo offers a range of features for benchmarking UX performance, including advanced analytics and user feedback tools — plus, its personalised guidance tool is a great way to embed contextual help and onboarding instructions on your live product or service. Pendo is absolutely free for up to 100 monthly active users – custom paid plans, available upon request.

One of the most popular multi-functional web testing and experimentation tools on the market, allowing you to set up and collect analytics on advanced A/B or multi-page experiments. Tools like Optimizely allow you to quickly test and validate hypotheses, and get the insights you need to continuously improve your user experience. Bespoke pricing available upon request.

Visual Website Optimizer
Similar kind of deal as Optimizely – A/B testing and conversion optimisation is the name of the game with VWO. Their two core products are based on those two things, with the testing tool starting out at $49 per month, and their complete optimisation platform offered from $299 per month.

Google Analytics
Often overlooked as a UX research tool per se, GA is actually pretty key to providing you with the insights you need to monitor and measure UX performance. The ‘HEART’ framework is one of the most useful blueprints for setting up and reporting meaningful UX metrics with GA. The acronym stands for: Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention, and Task Success, and you can read more about it here.

In addition, GA offers its own content experiments function. This GA help resource explains how to get started with content experiments.


Bonus tools: user persona creation tools and templates


Joseph Phillips

Joseph Phillips

Copywriter and content strategist

Joseph supports organisations to achieve their business goals and serve customer needs — by publishing clear, purposeful, and value-adding content, through:

  • copywriting for the web
  • web content optimisation
  • content and UX strategy consultancy


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