Usability testing is a technique used to observe (usually first-time) users of your application or visitors of your website in order to improve the usability and user experience of your projects. During usability testing you ask users to perform typical tasks such as signing up for a newsletter on your website. Observing how users use and interact with your application or website usually provides you with many useful ideas on how to improve your user interface and highlights problems with your design.
There are many ways to conduct usability tests, such as fast and affordable hallway usability tests, online and remote tests, or large scale usability tests with many participants. Regardless of budget and project size, there are great articles, tools, books and other resources that help you get started with your own testing and we list some of the best resources on this page.
Conducting usability tests can be done completely without using any special tools, just by asking potential users to test certain features, user interface designs or mockups while watching them use your designs. However, for larger usability tests and larger teams it makes sense to record actual user sessions and plan the test sessions in more detail. The following tools help with exactly this and more.
Silverback is Mac-based software to record usability tests, including screen capturing and live video & audio recording. It also allows you to add notes to the recorded sessions and highlight specific moments of conducted usability tests.
TechSmith’s Maroe is a set of usability testing tools to record audio & video and capture the screen during testing sessions. It also comes with advanced eye tracking capabilities and tools for improved communication during tests.
UserZoom is a web service that allows you to manage and conduct usability tests. In addition to managing tests, it also allows you to record videos of usability test sessions and measure metrics to help you improve your user experience.
While not an exclusive usability testing tool, Camtasia lets you record the screen and video/audio of testers during usability tests, making it a good and affordable tool for your tests.