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9 user testing tools for powerful insights and better user experiences
User testing is crucial for any customer-centric business. The insights you get from running user tests help you improve customer satisfaction, increase conversion and retention rates, and build trust in your brand.
Sounds pretty great, right? Even better news: there are loads of excellent tools on the market to help you conduct experiments, analyze test results, and connect with your users like never before.
This article digs into some of the most popular user testing tools that give you the data you need to delight your users. Read on for our top picks, plus the questions you need to ask before adding them to your tech stack.
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9 user testing tools for building better products
Every product team needs user testing tools to:
The nine tools below help you achieve these goals and grow your business—with your customer top of mind every step of the way.
🤔 Before we get started…what’s the difference between user testing tools and usability testing tools?
You’ll see both terms used below because many user testing tools also incorporate elements of usability testing.
Ultimately, our stance is that no matter what you call it, the most important thing is to pick a tool that has the functionality you need for the job you’re trying to do.
What it is: Hotjar (hello! 👋) is a digital experience insights platform that gives you powerful information about how users interact with—and feel about—your site or product.
How it helps: Hotjar provides multiple ways to get insights and run different types of user tests. It provides both quantitative and qualitative research options for a truly comprehensive picture of your customers’ wants and needs.
Session recordings reveal exactly how your users navigate your site so you can identify usability issues, spot frustrating elements, and understand why users get blocked or exit pages instead of taking the next step
Heatmaps visualize user behavior to represent which parts of your site or mobile app users engage with—and which parts get ignored. Heatmaps surface issues that may have slipped through QA, like broken call-to-action (CTA) buttons, unoptimized information hierarchy, or elements not working as expected.
Surveys and Feedback let you ask users directly about their experience and gather responses to specific questions. Ask questions like, “On a scale of 1-10, how easy is it to use this site?” or “What features would you like to see in the future?” (Surveys are also another great way to recruit participants for user testing.)
With user interviews via the Hotjar Engage product, you can automate the entire user research process and conduct remote user interviews that reveal actionable insights
🧪 Make user testing easier
Engage enables you to quickly and effortlessly recruit test participants from Hotjar’s pool of over 175,000 people. It also takes care of time-consuming admin (like scheduling, hosting, and transcribing your sessions) so you can focus on uncovering the right information.
These user testing features are powerful alone but even more impactful when combined, empowering you to run in-depth remote user tests and interviews that help you make significant improvements.
Integrations: ✅ Hotjar integrates with thousands of other tools you know and love, including other user testing software such as Optimizely, Unbounce, and Omniconvert (more on those below). It also integrates with your favorite analytics platforms, like Google Analytics.
What it is: Optimizely is an experimentation platform that helps businesses run user tests so they can see what works (and what doesn’t).
How it helps: with advanced behavioral targeting and segmentation, Optimizely enables you to run A/B and version tests with specific audiences so you can see what resonates and with which demographic. Safely run multiple experiments on the same page, and get granular with your user testing.
Integrations: ✅ Hotjar’s Optimizely integration helps you get even more out of your A/B and multivariate tests by letting you visualize and observe how users engage with different versions.
💡 Pro tip: use Hotjar + Optimizely to:
Test new design features on your site, app, or product
See which pages lead to better conversions
Get feedback from users about new features
What it is: Unbounce is an AI-powered landing page builder that helps you create and optimize landing pages.
Key tools and features: landing page builder, A/B testing, automatic traffic optimization
How it helps: landing pages can be the moment of truth for your campaign: will all the work you’ve done to direct users to this point pay off with a sign-up?
To ensure users convert, Unbounce helps you optimize your landing pages using either A/B testing or its proprietary AI-powered traffic optimization tool, Smart Traffic.
Unbounce’s A/B testing lets you run classic user tests, while Smart Traffic removes the need for experimentation and uses visitor attributes to automatically route visitors to the ideal landing page variant for them.
Integrations: ✅ Combining Hotjar with Unbounce reveals the why behind your A/B experiments. Using session recordings, heatmaps, and surveys on variants, you can compare user behavior across pages and get direct feedback to understand why the winners won, and the losers lost.
💡 Pro tip: use Hotjar + Unbounce to:
Understand how users engaged with different landing page variants
Identify what users liked and didn’t like about different landing pages by observing their behavior—or asking them directly
What it is: Omniconvert is a conversion rate optimization (CRO) platform aimed at ecommerce businesses.
Key tools and features: A/B testing, personalization, advanced segmentation, reporting, surveys
How it helps: Omniconvert has a powerful segmentation engine that allows you to run A/B tests based on over 40 segmentation parameters, including traffic source, location, user behavior, and survey response. It also provides an experiment debugger functionality to ensure your user tests run as they should.
Integrations: ✅ By integrating Hotjar with Omniconvert, you can see how different users interact with different page variations, allowing you to optimize and deliver an even better ecommerce experience.
💡 Pro tip: use Hotjar + Omniconvert to:
Identify the elements of a high-converting ecommerce page
See how different user cohorts engage with different variants and use the results to create more targeted sales and marketing campaigns for your ecommerce store
Key tools and features: audience recruitment, live interviews, video capture, usability testing, sentiment analysis, card sorting, tree testing, clickstream tracking
How it helps: UserTesting provides a video-first platform that lets you run usability tests and see users’ experiences in real-time. See people’s facial expressions, hear their tone of voice, and witness first reactions as they interact with just about anything: your site, app, product, marketing materials, or even real-world experiences.
What it is: UserZoom is a user experience (UX) research and usability testing platform.
Key tools and features: live interviews, moderated and unmoderated usability testing, tree testing, card sorting, click testing, surveys
How it helps: UserZoom offers remote usability testing, which can be either moderated or unmoderated
During moderated usability tests, a moderator watches the users interact with the product in real-time on a shared screen, listens to them discuss their experience, and may ask further questions as issues arise
Unmoderated usability tests leave users to navigate the product alone based on predefined tasks and questions
What it is: Userlytics is a UX research platform that allows businesses to run remote usability testing and other UX tests.
Key tools and features: moderated and unmoderated usability testing, website usability testing, prototype testing, accessibility testing, virtual reality (VR) testing, hybrid online and offline testing
How it helps: Userlytics provides remote usability tests and user research across various methodologies. In addition to ‘think aloud’ testing like user interviews, the platform offers A/B testing, preference testing, five-second tests, first-click testing, and information architecture testing (such as card sorting and tree testing).
8. Optimal Workshop
What it is: Optimal Workshop is a user research platform specializing in information architecture testing methods.
Key tools and features: card sorting, tree testing, first-click testing, surveys, qualitative analysis, user recruitment
How it helps: Optimal Workshop’s tools focus on core information architecture tests. This type of testing enables you to understand how users group and understand information, so you can create more intuitive user journeys that align with user expectations.
What it is: Maze is a user testing platform that helps designers and product managers test prototypes.
Key tools and features: prototype testing, live website testing, concept testing, wireframe testing, feedback surveys, card sorting, tree testing
How it helps: by enabling product and design teams to get user feedback on initial concepts, wireframes, and early prototypes, Maze helps product teams to validate their ideas before they even start coding. This allows them to save time, build with users in mind, and work with confidence.
Honorable mention: Google Optimize
What it is: Google Optimize is a free website optimization and user testing platform that natively integrates with the entire Google suite.
What you need to know: Google Optimize will only be around until September 30, 2023, so check out these alternatives to make sure you’re prepared and don’t lose your valuable customer data.
If you’re committed to using it until then, make sure to supplement the quantitative data its experiments provide with more in-depth analysis (like the kind you get from Hotjar recordings and heatmaps).
Bonus: project management tools
While project management tools—such as Jira, Asana, and Trello—aren’t user testing tools per se, it can be super useful to integrate them with your user testing tech stack to consolidate your findings and plan next steps.
For example, Hotjar integrates with the following tools, so you can automate your workflows and create more connected user testing processes no matter how you like to work:
Use Zapier to automatically create a new card, task, or database record in your tool of choice when you receive a new survey response, piece of feedback, or recording in Hotjar. That way, you can easily track, manage, and progress everything from one place—so no user insight goes unactioned.
How to pick the right user testing tools for your business
To choose the right user testing tool, you need to consider a few factors. Here’s our advice on picking the right one for your needs.
🧰 What is the job to be done (JTBD)?
What is the goal of your user testing: do you have a specific question you’re trying to answer, such as, “Does moving the CTA improve conversion rates?” or “How easy is it to navigate my website?” Or are you looking to get broader insights?
Clarifying the job to be done and setting a clear objective for your user tests will help you to
structure your approach and identify which user testing methodology and features you should use.
⚒️ Which tools and features do you need?
As you’ll have noticed from the list above, there are loads of tools and features common to user testing tools, including:
Surveys and feedback
User interviews and recruitment
Information architecture testing, such as card sorting and tree testing
Remember, in order to get the full picture of your users, you should combine quantitative and qualitative research. Look for opportunities to use features together to unlock even deeper understanding, such as complementing your A/B tests with session recordings or direct user feedback.
🤝 Does it integrate with the other tools you use?
To get the most from your user testing software, look for one that integrates seamlessly with the other tools in your tech stack.
Enrich your user tests with additional data—perhaps from your customer relationship management (CRM) or analytics software—and use automations to make your entire user testing workflow more efficient.
💆 How easy is it to use?
A great user testing platform makes it simple to set up and run user tests, even if you don’t have a UX testing or analytics background.
In fact, many of the tools on this list (like Hotjar 👋) are user-friendly and low-code, meaning you don’t need a developer to get set up—just copy and paste the code and start getting actionable data right away.
💰 How much does it cost?
Of course, pricing will be a factor too. Look for a tool that fits within your budget and can scale with you as you grow.
Want to be confident that you’re making a wise investment? Hotjar has a free-forever plan that’s perfect for businesses just starting out on their user testing journey.
Create better experiences with user testing tools
With the right user testing tools in your tech stack, you can get data-driven user feedback from your target audience that will help you to test, improve, and continuously optimize the user experience—leading to happier, more successful users.
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