The Best UX Design Tools You Need for Testing

Paul Boag
7 min readJul 3, 2019

There is no excuse not to test your designs with so many excellent apps available and more being added daily. Here are the best UX design tools I have found to date.

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This post is a list of the best UX design tools I have found for testing the user interfaces we build, and better understanding our users. I intend to update this post regularly, so if you have a suggestion, please contact me.


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Okay, so let’s jump in!

Usability Testing with Lookback

Lookback is bar far the best and most flexible tool for usability testing I have found.

I have tried a lot of different tools for recording usability testing over the years and Lookback is my current preference. It supports in-person and remote sessions. It also allows you to run both facilitated and unfacilitated sessions.

One feature I particularly like is that it makes it easy to edit highlights or lowlights from your sessions into short, punchy videos that you can use to present to stakeholders.

See Also: How to Get Started With Usability Testing

Testing Visuals with Usability Hub

UsabilityHub is ideal for testing static design comps.

In the early stages of a project, you often have nothing more than a sketch or design visual. However, even these are enough to start testing with users.

In such situations, I turn to Usability Hub because it offers me tests I can run with nothing but a static visual. These include tests like a five-second test, preference test or a first click test.

Best of all, Usability Hub also offer the option to recruit testers for you.

See Also: Testing design: How do you test a design comp?

Eye Tracking with Real Eye

Real Eye allows you to carry out eye-tracking with nothing more than a webcam. No special equipment required.

Eye tracking always used to be expensive and time-consuming, making it unrealistic for anybody but the biggest of my clients. However, more recently, things have begun to change thanks to advances in technology.

For example, facial recognition allows Real Eye to carry out eye tracking studies with nothing more than a laptop’s webcam. That means you can carry out eye tracking studies remotely, either by sending participants an automatically generated link or by getting Real Eye to recruit participants for you.

However, it is not just the advances in facial recognition that has opened up opportunities in eye tracking. Machine learning is also enabling some pretty impressive innovations.

Eye Tracking Prediction with Eyequant and Eyetato

Eyequant simulates eye-tracking results allowing you to gain statistically significant data much faster.

Eyequant uses machine learning to predict the results of eye tracking on any design you upload. They claim an accuracy rate of 80 to 90% when compared to eye-tracking studies.

Although Eyequant is not as reliable as eye-tracking, it does allow you to simulate the kind of results you would see from a large study. That is something out of the reach of many UX teams.

Although Eyequant is less expensive than a large scale eye-tracking study, you cannot call it cheap. The cost per report varies depending on the number you signup for, but it can cost as much as $20 per review.

Eyetato is a free tool for the mac that claims to predict the results of eye-tracking studies.

A free option I came across recently is a Mac app called Eyetatothat claims to do very similar things to Eyequant. However, unlike Eyequant, Eyetato is a bit vague about the data upon which they have based the app, and it’s level of accuracy. That said, if budget is an issue, this might be an option.

Ultimately nothing beats carrying out real eye-tracking studies, and even these only tell part of the story. That said, these tools can help validate, and hopefully justify, a design direction to sceptical stakeholders and that makes them worth considering.

Quantify Usability with Maze

Maze provides hard numbers for things like time to complete task or misclick rates.

I have written before about how usability should be one of the key performance indicators we measure to track the effectiveness of our websites.

However, to make that happen, we need an easy way of gathering hard data on the ease-of-use of our websites. Fortunately, Maze makes this possible by allowing us to periodically run un-facilitated testing that monitors metrics such as time to complete a task, misclick rates and the percentage of users who fail to complete a task.

See Also: Measuring Usability: What Metrics Should You Track?

Card Sorting with Optimal Sort Or Miro

Optimal Sort allows you to run remote and in-person card sorting exercises.

I have not been particularly impressed by any of the tools I have used over the years to run card sorting exercises. Most of them are just damn ugly, and the results are hard to understand for anybody but an experienced UX researcher.

Probably the best I have used is ‘Optimal Sort’, which is one of a suite of tools provided by Optimal Workshop. However, I cannot help but think there is a gap in the market for something better.

One tool that has been recommended to me is Miro. Although not a dedicated card sorting tool, it could definitely be used as such because of its ability to replicate a collaborative workshop environment, post it notes and all!

Although not a dedicated card sorting tool, Mirolooks like a good option for running remote card sorting sessions.

Recruit Participants with Ethnio

Ethnio will find the perfect participants for your user research exercises.

One of the biggest challenges with usability testing and user research is the recruitment of participants. Although some services like Usability Hub, Userzoom and Real Eye will help you recruit participants, that is no help if you do not intend to use their service.

That is where Ethnio comes in. Ethnio allows you to intercept people using your website and ask them to participate in a user research exercise. It handles everything from calendar invites to paying participants. But, most importantly, it will help with the prequalification of potential participants so ensuring you end up with precisely the right kind of user.

Survey Users with User Reports

User Reports seems to be one of the better survey tools for user experienceprofessionals.

There is no shortage of survey tools available when carrying out user research. However, few of them are configured to the needs of a user experience professional.

The one exception I have found is User Reports, which, although I have not used it yet, does look interesting.

As well as providing all of the essential survey tools you would expect from something like Typeform or Survey Sparrow, they also offer the ability for users to vote on features or content.

That feature makes it a useful tool for completing something like a top task analysis or just understanding what content users care about.

See Also: Creating a better survey

An All in One Solution with Userzoom

Userzoom offers a whole suite of user research tools.

Of course, many of us are seeking to integrate user research and testing across every aspect of our development workflow. That means we want to do everything from usability testing or card sorting to benchmarking and surveys. In such situations, it makes sense to find one tool that will provide all of these features.

One such tool is Userzoom, although there are others such as User Testing. These tools are ideal for enterprise customers who want a one-stop shop that they roll out organisation wide. However, you will often need an enterprise sized budget and you are not always getting the same level of refinement as you would get from more focused apps.

Comparing Designs with Google Optimiser

Google Optimise is a great free tool for those starting out with A/B testing.

You can’t talk about user research and testing without talking about A/B testing. Also known as multivariate or split testing, A/B testing is essential to how most organisations seek to optimise their conversion rates.

Visual Website Optimiser is a popular choice among many UX professionals, but Google Optimise is a good starting point for those new to A/B testing because it is free of charge.

See Also: A Beginners Guide to A/B and Multivariate Testing

Visualise Your Research with Evolt

Evolt allows you to visualise the user experience by creating personas and storyboards.

Of course, carrying out all of this user research is not particularly useful if stakeholders are not referring to it regularly. That is where Evolt may help. Evolt allows you to visualise your data about your users as storyboards or personas.

I can’t say I have used this tool myself as with my design background; I am perfectly capable of creating a persona design. However, if you lack the confidence with design packages, this looks like an interesting option for creating professional looking visualisations.

See Also: Visualising Your User Research — Are Personas the Answer?

Let’s Discover Need Tools Together

So there you have it, the best user research and testing tools I have found. However, I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. As I said at the start of this post, I would love to hear your suggestions so I can update this list regularly.


Stock Photos from everything possible/Shutterstock



Paul Boag

I am a User Experience Consultant, speaker & author of User Experience Revolution. I run @boagworks and am a director of @smashingmag and @headscapeltd