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8 Best UX Research Tools & Software to Use in 2023

If you aspire to become a UX (User Experience) designer, you’ll be responsible for considering a user’s needs and making sure your application fulfills them. In this role, you’ll solve design problems to improve the user experience. However, if you don’t have the right UX research tools, you won’t be able to survey users and identify issues properly.

Fortunately, there are many free and beginner-friendly tools for UX testing. These can help you create usability tests, survey users, and view analytics. Once you select the best option for your needs, you should be able to carry out your UX research more efficiently.

ux research tools

In this post, we’ll recommend eight different UX research tools for beginners. For each one, we’ll discuss its main features, use cases, and pricing. Let’s get started!

📚 Table of contents:

1. UXtweak

UXtweak is one of the most popular UX research tools.

If you’re looking for an affordable but comprehensive set of UX research tools, UXtweak can be an effective option. With card sorting and tree testing, you’ll be able to organize your website for usability easily. Then, you can recruit testing participants by adding a recruiting widget to your site. You can also recruit from over 155 million panelists on the UXtweak user panel.

UXtweak includes a variety of tests to understand your users. By experimenting with first-click tests, mobile testing, and prototype testing, you can examine user behavior and improve your UX design accordingly. UXtweek also supports session recording, which provides a visual display of how participants use your site.

⚙️ Key features:

  • Organization tools like card sorting and tree testing
  • Recruiting opportunities with the user panel and recruiting widget
  • Mobile and website testing
  • First-click and five-second tests
  • Prototype testing
  • Session recording
  • Surveys

💵 Pricing: UXtweak has a free plan that is ideal for small-scale projects. This includes all the available research tools, but there are some limitations on the scope of your study. If you’re looking for more participants, you can purchase a plan starting at $144 per month.

2. Optimal Workshop

Optimal Workshop is a great option if you're looking for UX research tools.

Optimal Workshop is another platform with a full set of UX research tools. It supports both qualitative and quantitative research to analyze users’ feelings and behavior and back this up with measurable data. For example, the Reframer tool can help you organize note-taking and user documentation while first-click testing can analyze your site’s usability.

One of the main advantages of Optimal Workshop is that it was built for collaboration. If you’re planning to work with a team, you may benefit from the administrator controls and Single Sign-On (SSO) support. Plus, you can secure your collaborative study with passwords, closing rules, and screener criteria.

⚙️ Key features:

  • Card sorting and tree testing
  • Recruitment panel of 50+ million participants
  • First-click testing
  • Reframer for qualitative research
  • Online surveys

💵 Pricing: Like UXtweak, you can use Optimal Workshop for free. However, this plan only supports five tools, one live study, and up to ten participants. If you want extended features, premium plans start at $191 for each user.

3. Google Forms

If you're looking for free UX research tools, then Google Forms is an excellent option.

One of your most important tasks as a UX researcher is surveying users. To properly measure user experience for your project, you’ll need to gather a group of participants. Then, you can create a questionnaire that enables users to share their personal opinions when interacting with your website.

Although it’s not specifically designed for UX research, Google Forms is a popular survey tool. After creating a new form, you can customize it with unique question types and answer values. Once your participants respond, Google Forms will automatically record this data in easy-to-read graphs and charts.

⚙️ Key features:

  • Short answer, paragraph, multiple choice, checkboxes, and dropdown question types
  • Customizable theme color, text, and header image
  • Forms Template Gallery
  • Mobile app
  • Integration with Google Sheets
  • Real-time results

💵 Pricing: Google Forms is available for free as part of Google Workspace. If you need more Google Drive storage space or centralized administration, the premium options start as low as $6 every month.

4. UsabilityHub

UsabilityHub UX research tool

UsabilityHub is a remote and unmoderated user testing platform that helps you discover any design issues before your content goes live. Its user panel includes over 450,000 participants with 35 different demographics from over 100 countries. This enables you to find the right users to test and quickly receive their responses.

Unlike other UX research tools, UsabilityHub analyzes every detail in your user responses. With funnel analysis and task timers, you can target specific areas of your project that cause frustration or confusion. If you’d like to use a third-party tool for further analysis, UsabilityHub can export your test data as a CSV file.

⚙️ Key features:

  • Card sorting
  • Prototype testing
  • Five-second and first-click tests
  • Preference tests
  • Surveys
  • Audience split testing
  • Translation support for 30 languages

💵 Pricing: UsabilityHub’s free plan supports unlimited self-recruited responses and active tests. You’ll also be able to include up to three collaborators and create tests that are two minutes long. If your UX testing requires more advanced tools, platform pricing starts at $89 per month.

5. Maze

Maze website

Maze advertises itself to product teams who need user testing at every step in the development process. Once you create a new project, you can use Maze to build targeted research campaigns. Then, you’ll receive automated reports and user metrics based on the specific tests that you choose.

What sets Maze apart is its comprehensive set of templates. As a beginner, you can kickstart your research by selecting pre-designed user surveys. Maze provides many options for testing usability and satisfaction, which can help you easily start gathering valuable feedback from visitors.

⚙️ Key features:

  • Design, research, product, and marketing templates
  • Integration with Adobe XD, Figma, InVision, and other design tools
  • Customizable tests with blocks for card sorting, tree testing, opinion scales, and more
  • Automated metrics about bounce rate, misclicks, and heatmaps
  • Team collaboration

💵 Pricing: Maze provides a free version for one active project and 300 viewable responses in a given year. To access open card sorting, conditional logic, and professional templates, you’ll need to buy one of the premium plans, which start at $75 per month.

6. Hotjar

Hotjar website

Analyzing user behavior is a key component of UX research. When you’re building a website, you want to be aware of how visitors see and interact with the content. This way, you can make sure the site is clear, efficient, and easy to use.

Hotjar can provide visual insights about a website. It uses heatmaps to tell you how users tend to scroll through web pages, click on buttons, or ignore elements completely. Plus, it will give you recordings of visitor actions, which include tracked mouse movements and clicks.

With other UX research tools, you may only use surveys to gain user data. This process can be more complicated and can result in biased information. However, Hotjar enables you to see your visitors’ behavior visually. You can then use that information to improve the design of your website by adjusting very specific variables.

⚙️ Key features:

  • User behavior heatmaps
  • Recordings of clicks and mouse movements
  • Feedback widgets
  • Dashboard with user metrics
  • Surveys

💵 Pricing: Like many of the other tools on this list, Hotjar has a free plan. Since this includes unlimited heatmaps and up to 1,050 sessions per month, it can be an effective option to start learning UX research skills. As you grow, you may want to increase these sessions by purchasing a plan for as little as $32 per month.

7. Dovetail

Dovetail website

To keep your research organized, you’ll want to manage how you store the collected user data. Using the wrong tool, you may risk losing your hard-earned results. Fortunately, Dovetail is a cloud-based platform where you can summarize your findings, analyze them, and share necessary information with others.

Dovetail can consolidate your user interviews, usability tests, feedback, and surveys in one place. Within this data, you can add highlights, tags, and custom fields. Then, you’ll be able to group these into relevant themes to discover insights about your research.

⚙️ Key features:

  • Transcriptions of video and audio recordings
  • Highlights and tags
  • Easy participant management
  • Project templates
  • Searchable research library
  • GDPR-ready
  • Integration with UsabilityHub, Google Drive, Slack, and more

💵 Pricing: Dovetail has a basic plan that is completely free. If you need more than five transcription hours per month, its paid plans start at $8, billed monthly. This gives you unlimited files, storage, and free viewer users. This makes it one of the most budget-friendly UX research tools on the list.

8. Useberry

Useberry UX research tool

Useberry is a platform that was built for designers, product teams, and UX/UI researchers. It supports a variety of testing options that evaluate user impressions and preferences. Since there are over 290,000 participants on the Useberry panel, you won’t have to worry about finding the right demographic for your surveys.

Additionally, Useberry integrates with many popular UX design tools. If you’ve already created digital products on ProtoPie, Adobe XD, or Sketch, you can easily import them. Then, you’ll be free to conduct testing and collect valuable feedback about your designs.

⚙️ Key features:

  • Session recordings, heatmaps, user flows, and timebars
  • 290,000 available participants
  • Card sorting and tree testing
  • First-click and five-second tests
  • Evaluations for single and multiple tasks
  • Online surveys

💵 Pricing: The free version of Useberry is limited to one project and 10 monthly user responses. As an upgrade, the paid subscriptions start at $33 per month.

Final thoughts on UX research tools 🧐

If you’re new to UX design, you may struggle to start new projects and find prospective participants. Using the right tools, however, you’ll be able to successfully recruit users to evaluate your website’s usability.

For example, with UXtweak, you can recruit from over 155 million panelists. Meanwhile, Optimal Workshop gives you access to a recruitment panel of over 50 million participants. These research tools can therefore help you target your design goals and maximize your productivity.

Do you have any questions about the UX research tools featured in this post? Let us know in the comments section below!

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