A Quick guide to UX Testing Software – Guest post by Ryan

This is a quick guide about what user testing software I’ve used in the past and hopefully it might come in handy for you.

Remember, the basic thing good User Testing Software should do at an extremely basic level is
• Record the screen
• Record the users voice
• That’s the utter utter basic thing you need it to do.

What it can’t do for you is:
• Automatically find all the insights you need
• Create amazing visual reports for clients at the click of a button
• Do qualitative analysis
• Transcribe or make notes for you
• Tell you where you’re going wrong
• Fly a plane at 360mph
Software that claims to do the above is lying.

1) VLC

The pirates movie player of choice, VLC also does a million other things that you will never have used because you were watching downloaded episodes of Breaking Bad instead of working.

To set up VLC as a screen recorder, follow the VLC setup tutorial here, and you can download VLC here

Outside of the hardware cost (decent PC/Mac with a microphone) it’s free! What you will get at the end of a session is a screen recording with the users voice. This can sometimes be enough for what you need, so ideally use it if you’re not presenting to clients.

2) Silverback

Silverback is a well-designed piece of software from a UX consultancy called ClearLeft. It uses all the hardware on a Mac to create picture in picture user testing videos with recorded mouse clicks and keystrokes that might not be visible on your application (for example Cmd+Tab). It then exports this as a Quicktime MOV file which you can either change to a MP4 or edit to make highlight clips. If you have an Apple Remote, you can use it in the session to mark highlights and this will add chapters to the Quicktime file.

All in all, if you have a Mac, then it just works (although there is apparently an issue with the most recent of recent Macbooks that they are fixing for Summer 2014). However, there is the issue that it is Mac only. The more astute of you would probably say at this point that you could just run a VM within OSX and record that and you’d be right but you would probably need a powerful Mac to run all that. One other thing to keep in mind is that 1 hour of video takes 1GB HD space.

Its available here >

3) Morae

One of the oldest tried, tested and trusted pieces of UX testing software out there for desktop apps. Morae is one of the most fully featured pieces of software for testing, capable of not only recording screen sessions, mouse clicks and picture in picture user video, but also can create heat maps of clicks, click order diagrams and you can even set it up to create reports on quantitative data (e.g. how long users spent on each page). One of its key strengths is that it can also livestream your session to another PC remotely with an overlay showing mouse clicks and keystrokes.

Windows-only, but worth it

4) LookBack

For iOS apps, you might want to try this lovely piece of software, which records the user from the front facing camera on the iPhone, records finger taps, swipes etc, and automatically uploads your user testing video to a secure website where you can view and share the session as you want, complete with a timeline based-video navigation!

5) A video camera

Sometimes for focus groups and for out of box testing, the humble video camera is all you need to capture your user feedback. Make sure your room is well lit and if possible, record sound from a second source, in case the on-board microphone on your camera isn’t very clear.

Prototyping tools

Tool Platform Difficulty Interactive Cost Comment
Axure Mac/PC Medium-High Yes 289 Good for HTML 5, programming constant variables, creating specs, can post prototypes securely online
Balsamiq Online Yes 79 Super quick, non platform dependent
Flash Mac/PC Medium/High Can be $hundreds Can build final code as well as prototypes
Flinto Online Low Yes $10/mo Quick, easy, slick for basic interactions
FluidUI Online Free/Subscription
iMockUps iPad Very Low Yes 7 Excellent rough “on-the-go” solution that can export to a number of formats. Interface is bit dodgy sometimes but otherwise excellent
Invision Online Low yes Free/ $15/mo Also a collaborative tool. Good for teams.
Keynote Mac/iOS Medium Yes $10 purchase Easy animation, beautfully rendered text
Motion 5 Mac Medium No $50 purchase Great for complex animations/transitions
Omnigraffle Mac Medium Yes 200 Quick, iPad and PC interchangeable docs
Paper Low Sort of Free Quick & cheap
Pop iOS Low Yes Free
Processing Mac/PC High Can be Free Great for coded animation, superb plugins that allow use of mics and cameras
Quartz Composer Mac High Partially Free Great for developing Mac Apps
Solidify Online Low yes From $19/mo
UX pin Online Low yes From $14.99 /mo
Visio PC Low No 40000 Flat UI work only. Might already be part of your company’s IT package
XCode Mac High Yes Free Can be used for final code as well as prototyping. iOS super friendly

UX Process diagrams

Some other links

“8 must-see UX diagram” on UX Booth

At Event #1, Richard Hatton mentioned Sesame Street testing … it was from a book by Malcolm Gladwell called The tipping point. Excerpt from that chapter, and Wikipedia page.