Best UX research tools
Gain insights into the 10 best UX research and testing tools, their key features, pricing options, and how they can enhance your overall user experience strategy.
Are you looking to enhance your user experience (UX) research and testing capabilities? In this article, we’ll introduce you to a range of powerful UX tools that can streamline and strengthen your research efforts.
We'll explore the key features, functionalities, and pricing of each tool, helping you make an informed decision about which ones best suit your needs. Whether you're seeking video-based interviews, remote usability testing, card sorting, tree testing, or participant recruitment, this article has got you covered.
Discover the tools that will take your UX research to the next level and unlock valuable insights into user behavior and preferences.
Please note: All pricing mentioned in this article is displayed in USD.
TL;DR: A quick glance at the 10 best UX research tools
UsabilityHub is an online platform that offers a comprehensive suite of tools and services for UX research and usability testing. It allows researchers, designers, marketers, product teams, and others to gather feedback and insights from a pool of 530,000+ research participants.
- Recruit participants: UsabilityHub provides access to a pool of 530,000+ participants who can be recruited for your unmoderated research studies. Specify your target demographics, and participants can be selected based on criteria such as age, gender, location, and more. You can also choose to self-recruit from your own pool of users.
- Interviews: Plan, recruit, and manage online interviews from your UsabilityHub dashboard. Set up your moderated study criteria – including screener questions – recruit participants, and track sessions, incentives, and no-shows, with built-in automated email reminders.
- First click testing: Gauge the effectiveness of your website's navigation and information hierarchy by asking users to complete a task and see where they click first. This can identify confusion or usability issues related to findability and discoverability.
- Five second testing: Gather quick and immediate impressions from users by showing them a design or interface for – you guessed it – five seconds. Users then provide feedback on what they recall and their initial impressions. This can be particularly helpful for capturing initial visual impact and understanding messaging effectiveness.
- Preference testing: This test presents users with two or more design variations and asks them to choose their preferred option. It helps gauge user preferences and understand which design elements or concepts resonate best with your target audience.
- Prototype testing: Ideal for low- or high-fidelity designs, this test lets users navigate a Figma prototype while you gather valuable feedback.
- Card sorting: Card sorting helps show how real users group information. Presented with a series of cards, they’ll group them logically, providing actionable data to help while designing information architecture.
- Design surveys: Want the user’s unvarnished opinion? Question testing allows you to ask users questions related to your design, product, or user experience, generating invaluable qualitative data.
Plans and pricing
- Free plan: Includes up to three collaborators, 15 responses per link, and unlimited tests up to 2 minutes each.
- Basic: $89/month. Includes everything on the free plan but removes the limit on responses and ups the test lengths to 5 minutes each.
- Pro: $199/month. Includes everything in the basic plan, plus two additional collaborators, conditional logic, custom branding, and unlimited test lengths.
- Enterprise plan: Pricing is tailored to your company and includes unlimited collaborators, security audits, and additional security integration.
- Panel responses are priced separately for all plans.
Optimal Workshop is a good beginner’s tool for UX research.
- Treejack: Tree testing helps refine a website's information architecture by testing the findability and organization of content. A straightforward testing interface lets users navigate through a text-based outline to complete tasks.
- OptimalSort: Card sorting exercises help generate automated insights about how users categorize and organize information.
- Chalkmark: This first-click testing interface collects click-based heatmaps to assess the effectiveness of specific design elements or layouts.
- Reframer: This tool collects all note-taking, observations, and interviews into a single interface, allowing you to identify patterns and generate valuable insights.
- Questions: Create and distribute surveys to gather data and feedback from users.
Plans and pricing
- Free: Caps all research sessions (card testing at 20 cards, tree testing at 2 cards, and so on). Online surveys still have unlimited questions.
- Pro: $208/month. Removes caps from research like card testing and tree testing but retains a four-task limit for first-click testing.
- Team: Variable pricing dependent on the number of users, starting at $208 per user per month. Removes all caps from research testing.
- Enterprise: Custom pricing. Contains everything in the Team plan but adds single sign-on, team accounts, and administrator controls.
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If you know you’re focused on mobile, dscout is a great option. It offers a mobile-centric approach to qualitative research, allowing researchers to capture rich, real-time insights from participants in their natural environments.
- Mobile ethnography: You can engage participants in real-life contexts by assigning them missions or tasks to complete using their smartphones. Participants capture and share photos, videos, and written responses, providing rich qualitative data.
- Diary studies: Participants can be asked to document their experiences, behaviors, and thoughts over a period of time.
- Live video interviews: Remote video interviews with participants allow you to observe facial expressions and gather in-depth qualitative data.
Plans and pricing
- dscout doesn’t publicly disclose their pricing.
- Core: Comes with 2 seats, 30 hours of support, basic studies, and live 1:1 interviews.
- Core+: Includes all the offerings of the core plan but with 5 seats and 60 hours of support.
- Select: Designed for more advanced research teams. Includes 15 seats and 90 hours of support.
- Select+: Includes unlimited seats and 120 hours of support.
UserTesting streamlines the process of remote user testing, using readymade templates and a vast pool of preapproved participants. It has a heavy emphasis on video recordings, providing rich qualitative insights.
- Video-first thinking: Participants complete assigned tasks while their screens and audio are recorded, providing valuable insights into usability issues.
- Automated insights: Analysis is streamlined thanks to automated transcripts, timestamped notes, and auto-generated heatmaps.
- Highlight reels: Create highlight reels or clips of significant user interactions to share with stakeholders or team members. This feature helps communicate research findings effectively.
Plans and pricing
- UserTesting doesn’t disclose their pricing. There is no free plan.
- Essentials: Includes test builder and template gallery, demographic filters, and a dashboard with metrics.
- Advanced: Everything in the essentials tier, plus test plan management, live conversation, sentiment analysis, and unlimited workspaces.
- Ultimate: Everything in the advanced tier, plus card sorting, tree testing, custom audiences, and smart tagging.
UserZoom offers a combination of unmoderated and moderated testing options, alongside diary studies and advanced analytics, providing you with flexibility in gathering both qualitative and quantitative data.
- Moderated and unmoderated testing: Conduct unmoderated usability tests remotely, allowing for flexibility and scalability, or engage in real-time, moderated user testing sessions through video conferencing tools.
- Diary studies: Capture in-depth insights by having participants record their experiences, behaviors, and thoughts over an extended period, adding valuable longitudinal perspective.
- AI-powered recruiting: Research participants are sourced from over 40 panels to find the right fit.
- In-house UX consultancy: UserZoom’s in-house consultancy provides additional analytical muscle throughout the process.
Plans and pricing
- UserZoom doesn’t provide pricing.
- Quick Start plans: Geared toward small teams and individuals, featuring qualitative research methods, video analysis, and a self-serve knowledge base.
- Enterprise plans: Geared toward larger enterprises, adding in unlimited seats, quantitative research methods, hybrid research methodologies, and a dedicated on-staff research partner.
Loop11 focuses on remote, unmoderated usability testing, providing a streamlined and scalable way to gather user feedback. It positions itself as “the easiest” tool of its type, making it a solid choice for small teams that still want access to UX research tools like heatmaps, click testing, and first-click testing.
- Unmoderated testing: Participants complete tasks and provide feedback independently without real-time guidance. This approach offers scalability, as multiple participants can participate simultaneously without the need for direct oversight.
- GPT-4 enabled: Loop11 incorporates generative AI technology in its delivery of key findings and design recommendations.
- Scalability: Loop11 is built to accommodate small-scale research initiatives of just a few users all the way up to much larger projects.
Plans and pricing
- Rapid Insights: $199/month. Offers unlimited tasks and questions and 3 projects per month.
- Pro: $358/month. Offers everything in the previous plan but accommodates up to 10 projects per month and also supports heatmaps, clickstreams, and path analysis.
- Enterprise: $533/month. Offers everything in the pro tier across unlimited projects and team members.
Userlytics offers a robust user research platform with an emphasis on collaborative analysis and international scope. Insights can be viewed by unlimited viewers, and admin seats and participants are similarly large-scale. It also strives to support multinational corporations through a variety of features.
- Wide-ranging panel: Personas can be mapped to a global panel of almost 2 million testers spread across 150 countries.
- Global appeal: With projects in 79 countries and support for multilingual studies, transcriptions, and reports, Userlytics is a good option for multinational corporations.
- VR testing: If your UX testing has needs in the VR space, Userlytics can run prototypes on Oculus to determine usability and likelihood to purchase.
Plans and pricing
- DIY Premium: $499/month, with 2 seats for active users (unlimited viewers are still allowed). AI transcriptions max out at 20 per month.
- DIY Advanced: $999/month, with up to 5 seats, 100 AI transcriptions, and access to Userlytics panel services.
- Custom and enterprise plans can be devised using calculators on the site.
Maze specializes in rapid, data-driven design testing, making it a good option for teams focused on iterative design processes. Its intuitive interface enables quick team collaboration and feedback collection, and interactive prototyping capabilities allow for realistic and immersive user testing experiences.
- Design testing: Test interactive prototypes, wireframes, and designs created in various design tools, including Adobe XD, Figma, InVision, and Sketch. This lets you validate design decisions and identify usability issues before development, saving time and resources.
- Quick, automated reporting: Well-designed, presentation-ready reporting produces actionable heatmaps, design metrics, and path analysis, further streamlining the iteration process.
- Video recording: Remote tests provide videos that let you follow participants’ behaviors in real time.
Plans and pricing
- Free: Includes 300 viewable responses per year and 1 active project across both prototype and live website testing.
- Professional: $75/month. Expands to 1,800 viewable responses per year and 10 active projects, and adds on open card sorting and pro templates.
- Organization: Pricing not listed. Supports unlimited responses and active projects, as well as custom branding and enhanced security measures.
Hotjar’s emphasis is on its user behavior analytics, particularly heatmaps. An easy-to-use interface, generous free plan, and recruitment capabilities make it a strong choice for teams just starting out.
- Heatmaps: Heatmaps visualize large quantities of user interactions as color-coded screenshots. Click, move, and scroll heatmaps identify areas of high engagement, providing a visual representation of user attention and behavior on your website.
- AI surveys: A unique AI-powered survey generator whips together a survey quickly for folks who can use the assistance.
- Feedback polls: Collect targeted feedback from website visitors through customizable feedback polls. Ask specific questions to understand user needs, preferences, or pain points.
Plans and pricing
- Free: Records up to 35 daily sessions.
- Plus: $32/month. Records up to 100 daily sessions.
- Business: Scalable pricing. Records up to 500 daily sessions at $99/month, but records 270,000 daily sessions at $11,809/month.
- Scale: This enterprise tier also scales depending on the number of recordings and includes supplemental funnel, trend, and error tracking analysis, as well as priority support.
Dovetail is a user research platform designed to help teams analyze and extract insights from qualitative data. It centralizes user research data, such as interviews, surveys, and usability tests, making it easy to analyze, annotate, and collaborate on findings.
- Data organization: Import and organize various types of user research data, including interview transcripts, survey responses, and usability test recordings. Keeping your research data in one centralized location supports cross-functional collaboration and analysis.
- Annotation and insights: Interviews and research notes become richer with annotation and tags that highlight key findings, themes, and patterns. Qualitative data can be categorized and coded, too, allowing common trends and insights to emerge.
Plans and pricing
- Starter: $30/month. Features notes, tags, insights, and document analysis, capped at 3 contributors and 10 transcript hours per month.
- Team: $375/month. Includes everything in the previous tier but adds in workspace fields and project templates, as well as additional contributors and 25 transcript hours per month.
- Business: $1,200/month. Includes everything in the previous tier, plus feeds, custom branding, space for 10 contributors, and 100 transcript hours per month.
- Enterprise: Pricing scales, but has HIPAA compliance, space for 20 contributors, and unlimited transcription.
Ready to take your UX research to the next level?
Look no further than UsabilityHub. With its comprehensive suite of tools, including first click testing, preference testing, prototype testing, and more, UsabilityHub empowers you to gather valuable feedback and insights from a vast pool of research participants.
Start optimizing your user experience and making data-driven design decisions today. Sign up for a free UsabilityHub plan and unlock unlimited testing possibilities.