Authors Posts by Craig Tomlin

Craig Tomlin

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I've been improving revenue with online marketing, usability & conversion optimization for start-ups, small businesses and Fortune 500 firms since 1996. I'm a Certified Usability Analyst and multi-award winning marketer. Contact me for website usability testing and audits!

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Poll-What-Will-Your-UX-Spend-Be-In-2015-UsefulUsability
Time for another fun and quick Useful Usability Poll! For 2015, will your spend be more or less than it was for 2014? Or do you not spend on UX at all? Add your thoughts in the Comments about why you are planning your spend that way, and thanks for sharing!

What are your 2015 UX spending plans?


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Remember to add your thoughts in the comments about why you think spending will go up, stay the same or go down, and thanks for sharing!

Spending on UX in 2015

Spending on UX in 2015 in my opinion will probably increase versus that which we saw in 2014. Of course, there are numerous reasons why that prediction may not come true, such as economic stress, corporate or business related stress, shifting priorities in UX projects or work, etc.

However, for many of my clients plans are underway for overhauls of UX along three basic categories, I’m wondering if yours are the same?

  • App Development UX Spending – Many of my clients are busy planning or creating new user experiences for mobile-specific apps this year. Interestingly there seems to be quite a focus on specific apps that embed useful functionality into a branded, clean experience. I’m guessing that most mid to large sized businesses finally understand the value of mobile to their business, and are busy creating solutions that help their customers solve problems using mobile devices.
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  • Website UX Spending – Almost all of my clients are busy re-working or optimizing their websites, with plans to continue and increase that level in 2015. Perhaps some of this is due to Google’s seemingly increased interest in making user engagement an important component of search results positioning. But my guess is that more of it is due to businesses needing improved conversion from their web properties, to help bottom line profitability and growth. No matter the reason, I’ve been aware of quite a few firms actively planning or currently engaged in re-working or completely overhauling their websites from a UX perspective.
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  • Customer Service and Satisfaction UX Spending – Another area many of my clients are focused on for 2015 is improving the user experience existing customers and clients have with their business. It’s an old marketing adage that it’s 10 times more expensive to convert a new customer as it is to hold on to an existing one. My belief is many businesses are realizing that if they don’t improve the user experience of their customer services, their customers will leave in droves. Traditionally firms spend less on improving customer experience than in other areas, but I think the whole CX movement is really beginning to change this, and will continue to do so as more businesses look to improve their Customer Lifetime Value metrics.

But what about you and your UX spending?

So what about you and your plans for UX spending in 2015? Are you planning on spending more, less or about the same versus 2014? And much more importantly, why?

Share your thoughts about UX spending in the comments below!

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So How Did My Earlier 7 Controversial Usability Predictions Turn Out from 5 Years Ago?

Results-7-Controversial-Usability-Predictions-2010-326x235-UsefulUsabilityFive years ago, I published a post of 7 controversial usability predictions for 2010. So what were the results? Did my prognostications come true? Did I get them right?

So with 100 percent transparency, and a small amount of trepidation on my part, let us review how my predictions turned out.

For those of you who need may need a refresher on my 2010 controversial usability predictions, here they are with a brief update on how I did:

  1. The cost of conducting usability testing will decrease by a factor of 10.

I think I nailed this one (means I got it correct for those of you not up on U.S. slang).

Costs for conducting usability testing are a fraction of what they were five to six years ago. Why? Primarily because more and more firms and consultants are using remote moderated and un-moderated usability testing in place of expensive in-person testing at remote locations.

Remote moderated and un-moderated usability testing tools enable research to be conducted for a fraction of what it costs to fly a team to a remote location, rent a facility or hotel room, schedule and conduct the tests, pay for food, travel and lodging for the team, fly them back, and wait for their results.  The savings easily beat the factor of 10 prediction I made.

Add to that that there are now a plethora of low cost remote moderated and un-moderated usability testing tools available, and the savings are even greater.

  1. There will be a dramatic increase in the use of low cost web-based usability testing tools.

Again, nailed it!

Looking out at the tools available today, (you can see a recent list in my 14 usability testing tools article), it’s clear that web and mobile based solutions are plentiful, and seem to be added to daily.

  1. True usability ROI will continue to elude usability practitioners

I think I mostly got this one right, and that this statement is still mostly true, as I have witnessed some firms who have become able to accurately predict their Return On Investment (ROI) for usability. But, sadly, I’ve seen plenty of other firms that are still clueless about usability and ROI.

It helps to have people like Jeff Sauro of Measuring Usability providing helpful information on how to measure and estimate ROI for usability. But I am going to go out on a limb here and state that there are still plenty of organizations and consultants who have no idea how improved usability adds to their bottom line.

  1. Use of remote moderated usability testing will increase by a factor of 10

This one I think I missed. Firms that provide remote un-moderated usability testing like UserTesting, UsabilityTools, Loop11 and plenty more have experienced tremendous growth in utilization. But to a certain extent, that growth has I believe come at the expense of conducting usability testing sessions using remote moderated methods.

I have to admit that even for myself, it is sometimes easier, faster and quicker to conduct un-moderated remote usability testing versus moderated remote sessions. The allure of obtaining results in 10 minutes sometimes pulls decisions to use remote un-moderated, when in fact remote moderated would have been equal to or potentially better for a particular test.

Remote moderated will never go away, but because it takes more leg work to set up and administer it will probably never see utilization increase anywhere near remote un-moderated utilization.

  1. The UK will become a major source of usability expertise

Nailed it! Have you seen the huge number of UX and Usability conferences in the UK? Here’s a list of the UK’s past 337 UX events from Lanyrd. Yes! 337 events!

There are also scores of UX, Design and IA shops in the British Isles. The UK is no slouch when it comes to usability expertise. Our friends over the pond have embraced all things usability and UX and have used it to great extent. Is there room to do more? Of course, but considering the number of full time usability and UX shops that were there five years ago versus today, there has been tremendous growth in this area. So raise a hefty pint of ale, and three cheers in celebration of usability expertise in the UK!

  1. The phrase User Experience Design will become overused and almost meaningless

I’ll give myself a partial correct on this one. True, UX is now a far more common term than usability and in some ways UX has killed Usability. And true, most business folks or non-techies may not know one from the other, but still, there has been some consolidation and standardization of the term user experience design that most in our circle understand and use. It’s far from meaningless, so although there are still multiple ways to define ‘UX,’ the common theme of the experience a user has with a product, website, application or whatever seems to be fairly well understood.

  1. Without professional certification being required, more and more charlatans will be attracted to usability

I’ll give myself a partial correct on this one. A Certification course, test and certified practitioner list still eludes our ranks. I would have hoped the User Experience Professional’s Association could have made some progress on this in the past five years, but sadly that is not the case.

I have seen plenty of suspect ‘UX Audits’ and ‘Usability Reports’ floating around that seem to be very sub-standard in terms of actual UX and Usability expertise. Still, for the most part the players continue to be the players, and new consultants that pop-up for the most part seem to be interested in doing the right thing by their clients and providing real value. I may have been a bit negative in my attitude on this one. But still, until there is an official Certification and evaluation of practitioners, it really is a ‘buyer beware’ world for our prospective customers.

Conclusion: How I did On My 7 Controversial 2010 Usability Predictions

So overall I scored myself with:

  • 3 Correct
  • 3 Partially Correct
  • 1 Incorrect

How would you score my predictions? Do you agree with my scoring? Be sure to leave your comments below!

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7 more controversial usability and UX predictions for 2015, including predictions from usability and UX gurus Rich Gunther, Jan Jursa and Daniel Szuc

Usability-UX-Predictions-2015-UsefulUsability-326x235My very first set of usability predictions was originally posted 5 years ago. So how did I do? And what are my more even controversial predictions for 2015?

Me and my UX guru friends Rich Gunther, Jan Jursa and Dan Szuc will provide our predictions for 2015. Will you agree or disagree with them?

Five years ago I posted my 7 Controversial Usability Predictions for 2010 article. It’s been a while, but I feel it is once again time to go out on a limb and make 7 more controversial usability and UX predictions.

And for those keeping score, my next blog post will have my self assessment on how I did with my last set of controversial predictions.

So dear reader, grab a hot chocolate (or beer, wine, or whatever drink makes the most sense at this time) and curl up around your computer screen. Below are my 7 controversial Usability and UX predictions for 2015.

Bonus! Predictions from Rich Gunther, Jan Jursa and Daniel Szuc

And partly because I like adding bonuses for you, but mostly because I’m not as smart UX-wise as these experts, I’m adding several Usability and UX experts 2015 predictions, including:

Rich Gunther UX Predictions for 2015

Rich-Gunther-Photo-New-from-UsefulUsabilityRich is the former President of the User Experience Professional’s Association and Principal of Ovo Studios, The Usability Team, and Principal Interaction Designer for Oracle.

“I’m not a fortune-teller, but I saw two interesting things happen in UX in 2014, and I wonder if that’s going to continue.

First, here in the US, CapitalOne bought Adaptive Path.  Capital One is just one of a number of financial services companies who have built extensive customer research facilities in the last year.  Presumably their in-house workload didn’t increase that exponentially, which begs the question of whether we are about to see the dawn of the UX Super-Consultancy.

More fuel for the fire, and my second thing from 2014: PriceWaterhouseCoopers purchased Optimal Usability in New Zealand, a decidedly more regional firm, but still with some clout and reputation in the industry.

So why are traditionally “financial services” businesses all of a sudden buying UX consultancies?  My guess is that UX is beginning to reach a level of awareness and maturity that these companies are seeing the same opportunities in it that they saw in say, ERP integration in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.  I think it’s a good sign that so far they are buying best-of-breed companies, so hopefully that will translate to no loss of quality.  My fear is that they could, over time, begin to commoditize UX work, which would be bad for the industry as a whole.”

Thanks for sharing Rich!

Jan Jursa UX Predictions for 2015

Jan-Jursa-Photo-150x175Jan is a highly active IA and UX leader and among other things is co-founder of the German IA Summit, MOBX Conference, MEDLove Summit and Editor in Chief of UX Stories. He tweets voraciously at @IATV.

“In the past years a new Design maven appeared on the scene: Google. The advertising business has always used creative ways to communicate its point (or sex for those not design-savvy). As a byproduct of Google’s attempt to generate more profit, we (aka the-ux-community) received new tools from Google to help us create and design beautiful and usable products (Lollipop and Material Design, Google Web Designer or the Polymer Project to name just a few). Google will continue to travel on the design highway in 2015. And once on the fast lane, we will see Google shifting gears and pushing the pedal to the metal (punishing bad design or bad usability in search rankings for example).”

Thanks Jan!

Daniel Szuc UX Predictions for 2015

Daniel-Szuc-Photo-171x200-from-UsefulUsabilityDan is the co-founder of Apogee, a top-notch design and UX firm in Asia. He’s a co-author of the book Global UX and was founder of the UXPA China Hong Kong branch. He’s a frequent speaker, lecturer and expert on usability, UX, CX and how they interrelate with businesses.

1) The term, language, tools and practice of design will both fascinate and confuse business at the same time. Other cross over terms like UX, CX, service design, design thinking etc will also confuse the market place so business will need practitioners to make sense of this for them.

2) Project teams will continue to be measured on speed, meeting project dates and deliverables but not on meaningful impact on its customers. We will continue to make more crap than quality.

3) Business will continue to be distanced from customer understanding but there will be some signs of openness at new tools to learn about customer’s basic needs and deeper motivations (including storytelling)

4) Continued interest will increase in how to create UX/CX programs but UX/CX programs will face ongoing challenges in business until legacies that work against integrated and holistic ways of working are removed on brick at a time.

5) Digital will replace IT but suffer from the same separation as IT until silos can be broken down and redesigned one team at a time.

Thank you Dan for your very interesting predictions!

Thanks Rich, Jan and Dan!

It’s great hearing from experts, and only time will tell how accurate they are, but I’m betting they will be pretty accurate.

So now without further ado dear reader here are my…

7 More Controversial Usability and UX Predictions for 2015:

  1. Usability, UX and Entrepreneurs providing these services will rapidly expand in Central and Eastern Europe. I’ve seen tremendous interest and growth in usability and UX in Central and Eastern European countries, and I believe this will evolve into many new entrepreneurs in these countries creating new and exciting businesses focused on usability and UX.
  2. Conducting usability testing on mobile devices will become a mainstay of testing methodology. Most websites I test these days are experiencing at or near 50% access from mobile devices. As more users engage with businesses using their mobile devices, the need for businesses to test and optimize the mobile user experience will require increasing amounts of mobile usability testing.
  3. In-App usability testing tools will become more available. There are currently a limited number of mobile usability testing tools available that record a mobile session, including recording the face and voice of the tester along with the mobile screen interaction. But I believe there is lots of room for growth in this area and that we will see increasing numbers of in-app mobile usability testing platforms that capture and playback the entire user experience. Gone will be the days of testers using their cell phone on a table with a webcam hovering ungainly over the phone.
  4. Certification Will Continue to Elude our Industry. The UXPA’s continual failure over the past years to initiate formal Certification of Usability and UX is in my opinion a big disappointment in an otherwise exemplary organization. Yes, I’m aware that nature abhors a vacuum and so HFI offers Usability Certification (I am a proud CUA), including a newer UX Certification track, as does Nielsen Norman Group with their UX Certification. But in my opinion an Industry-wide Association like the UXPA needs to step up and make this happen in the U.S. How come the person who cuts your hair has to be certified and licensed, but the person conducting a usability overhaul of a major public website with millions of visits per year that can impact hundreds of thousands of people does not? Seems odd to me. Does it not seem odd to you?
  5. Large enterprises will Grok usability and UX and seek to add it to their skill set in increasing numbers. Ok, this one is admittedly taken from recent headlines I tweeted about in which Capital One acquired the top UX design firm Adaptive Path. But the reality is that in the past I’ve worked at great-big companies that were pretty much clueless about usability and UX, and those very same great big companies are now very busy building their internal or outsourced teams of UX experts. Seems more and more business executives are getting the message that UX IS their business.

    I expect more large firms will follow Capital One’s footsteps.

  6. Hackers will not quit with trying to kill just ‘The Interview.’ The news about hackers successfully getting Sony Pictures to temporarily stop release of the movie ‘The Interview’ and recent news about Google agreeing to stream The Interview are tops in headlines right now. At issue is the threat to a business from hackers, and a business deciding whether to deal with hackers, or acquiesce to their demands. We all face this threat. Every day this very website is attacked by hackers trying to gain illegal access to my WordPress files. Hackers routinely steal sensitive data from companies. It’s a safe bet that hacking is only going to increase in the coming year. Being aware of how to strengthen websites and applications, and the usability issues around those affordances, will be paramount in the coming year.
  7. Wearables will increase in prominence. Apple watches, Google Glass, Nike Fit bands and other objects are just the beginning. As wearables become more tech fashionable, fashions will become more tech wearables. Ralph Lauren is taking the lead with a true wearable, a smart shirt, known as the Polo Tech Shirt. It’s a shirt with built-in sensors in the fabric that feed real-time biometric data directly from your body to your smartphone or tablet. And this is just the beginning, more tech clothing will become prominent in 2015. Usability and UX practitioners will be testing and designing on a whole new level, the wearable level!

Conclusion: 7 more controversial usability and ux predictions for 2015

OK, so those are my 7 more controversial usability and UX predictions for 2015, along with Rich Gunther’s and Jan Jursa.

How do you think we did? Would you add to that? Be sure to add your thoughts in the comments.

And, be sure to check back here next year to see how we, and you, did!

Interview: Austria Design and Usability Company Simplease Shows the Way

Visionary design and UX Entrepreneurs are not just found in Silicon Valley. The new Silicon Valley may very well end up being in Europe and the Eastern European Countries, as witnessed by the four-man team leading Simplease and UserBrain.net.

Simplease-Userbrain-team-from-UsefulUsabilityGraz, Austria is home to a new kind of design and usability company, one that takes a unique leadership approach that may just show the way for the future of UX firms.

In their company Simplease, co-owners Andreas Riedmüller, Markus Pirker, Mathias Placho and Stefan Rössler each share leadership and ownership of their up-and-coming firm, and their success may just point to the future of the agency model. It may also point to a new entrepreneurial spirit driving design firms in Eastern and Central Europe. The same kind of entrepreneurial spirit that drives Silicon Valley.

In this interview we learn more about how they built a successful start-up in the design and usability space, the unique leadership approach they use to manage their successful firm, and what new endeavors they are working on next. Watch out Silicon Valley, the new entrepreneurs may just be coming from an entirely new place, Europe!

Q1. What’s your background? Where did you go to school, what subjects interested you?

Our shared story begins some eight years ago. Around that time we started studying Information Design at the FH Joanneum in Graz, Austria. We didn’t know each other back then, but everyone of us was already designing websites for himself and for clients. That said, we weren’t too interested in particular subjects, because we worked during most of our classes. This didn’t change until one day, when we had a subject called “virtual companies”.

SimpleaseThe goal of this course was to team up with some colleagues and start a company. Although it wasn’t for real, you had to get at least one client who actually pays you for designing a logo, website, or whatever.

Since most of us already had a handful of clients, we decided to get together and start our own company. We called it Simplease. Today we are still working in the fields of Strategic Design & Usability with clients in Austria and other European countries.

Q2. How did you get into usability field?

It was during our studies of Information Design. Before that, none of us had even heard the term usability. We were not aware of the fact that you should test your designs with real people. It was a real game-changer.

The first usability video any of us had ever seen was a short clip. Our usability teacher used to play this video to his students, to introduce them to usability testing. The video shows someone trying to pour milk from a carton into a cup. The usability of this carton was so bad, that the guy spilled the milk all over the place. This was the moment we realized that design is not just about making the packaging look good. Design is about making something that real people could actually use.

Q3. What is it about usability that you most enjoy, or find most rewarding?

That it’s good for people. If it was not for usability testing, we would still think about design as something that exists for its own sake. Now that we know about usability, we realize that it’s not about the look & feel of something, but the people using it.

Today this is obvious for almost everyone, but some years ago, usability was still this academic concept that ordinary people didn’t care too much about. This has changed over the past few years, and it continues to change. Maybe that’s the thing we enjoy most about it: finally everybody cares about usability. It’s great!

Q4. You are co-owners of Simplease, what does your firm do? How do you you’re your clients to be successful?

As you know, we are four guys, and each of us owns exactly 25% of Simplease. At first, people were smiling at us because we didn’t have a declared single owner or boss, but over the years it proved to be the right way for us to do it. We don’t have employees either, so every client gets to work with at least one of us during our partnership.

As to how we help our clients to be successful, we refer to it as “Apropos partnership.” That’s how we help our clients to be successful. We don’t focus on specific methods or work routines, but try to be the best partner for every client we decide to work with. In the first years we were building a lot of websites and in a way learned our craft. Then we got into offering usability testing and started to consult with our clients.

At the moment we do a lot of strategic decision making, and help our business partners to determine how to best invest their resources.

Q5. You recently founded a brand new company called userbrain.net, correct? What was the inspiration for your new firm?

Our work with clients was the biggest inspiration for Userbrain. You have to know, that we were already giving talks and teaching usability and interface design in several universities around Austria. But when it came to our own client work, we didn’t do as much testing as we would have wanted.

We felt like we talked the talk, but didn’t didn’t walk the walk. It was frustrating, but it inspired us to build or own a usability testing service.

Userbrain.netTalking with hundreds of colleagues, students, and clients, we found out, that no one really does a lot of usability testing. It was strange because everybody knew how important it was. And if they finally did some testing, it was a hell of a lot of work, and the odds of doing it again were getting lower every time.

Existing tools didn’t address this need to perform usability tests on a regular on-going basis, and that’s why we started to build Userbrain.

Q7. The usability testing tools field has lots of competition, why did you decide to enter this field, what differentiates Userbrain from the competition?

All the other usability testing tools provide their customers with fast feedback whenever they need it. While that’s useful, it’s not a very smart way of doing usability testing. Why? Because you get accustomed to only testing when you absolutely have to.

We believe though, that the true potential of user feedback lies in making it an integral part of your workflow, instead of just testing every once in a while. Userbrain is not for fast on-demand testing, it’s for product developers to continually receive user feedback each week, for months or even years.

This has two primary benefits;

  • First, it continuously streams usability data to the business so that on-going optimization becomes part of their business (a competitive advantage).
  • Second, it reduces the overall cost of each usability testing session to something along the lines of $10 per test, unlike competitors who charge $35, $50 or even more per test.

As you might imagine, Userbrain doesn’t work for some agencies who are just conducting one-time only usability projects. They live in a fast-paced, deadline-driven world, and they need instant feedback. That’s not the model for Userbrain, instead we focus on businesses that rely on continuously improving their websites, applications or related tools.

The primary advantage in using Userbrain is delivering on-going usability testing data to continuously optimize the user experience. And ultimately, improving the user experience is about improving a website or application for customers, for people. Userbrain is for businesses who care about improving their websites over the long run. It’s not about speedy one-off projects. Userbrain is about on-going, durable testing and optimization.

Q8. As an entrepreneur and start-up founder, what do you find are common issues or misunderstandings about starting a business?

The biggest misunderstanding we had was that we thought we needed to work for someone else and learn from their knowledge first, before we started working at our own company. That’s just wrong! As Einstein put it, the only source of knowledge is experience, and that’s why you have to just dive into it and gain your own experience.

You don’t have to take a job somewhere else before you’re able to start a business. You can just do it. Now! You can always figure the rest out later while you’re going. What’s the worst thing that could happen to you anyway? Well, the worst thing is, that you are not successful. You can then still search for a job and work for someone else.

Q9. What do you think it takes to be a successful start-up?

You have to be honest. Not only to your clients, customers, or colleagues—you have to be honest to yourself. Am I working too much? Do I enjoy what I do every day? Should I change something about my situation? There are a lot of uncomfortable questions you have to ask yourself every day. And while this sounds scary, it’s the most enjoyable part of owning a business.

The moment you realize that you are in control, everything starts to change. You stop whining about circumstances, you stop blaming others for your misfortune, and you stop searching for excuses. You grow comfortable in the person you become, and if you dislike anything about your life or even about yourself, you just change it. That’s what successful people do.

Q10. You are located in Graz, Austria, is that correct? Have you felt like Europe, and specifically Central and Eastern European countries, are now more aware of and involved in UX? If so, why do you think that is?

We talk a lot to colleagues from other companies, and of course we meet a lot of students. Those from Eastern European countries especially seem to be deeply involved in UX. You have to imagine, they drive some hours just to meet on a Saturday and enjoy a handful of talks about Design and Usability. They are in their twenties and they spend a weekend in a conference room, while the rest of us are having well deserved weekends. That’s just amazing!

Some of them told us that there are not a lot of job opportunities in their home countries. That’s why they drive to Graz for example, just to connect to like-minded people. And that’s also why they get involved in UX. They were not born into a world of bells and whistles, and they realize that they have to use their creative potential for more than just putting lipstick on pigs. They care about UX because they care about people and the world they live in.

Q11. What do you think the next two years or so will bring for usability and UX?  What is the next big thing?

The next big thing? Maybe one of these emerging usability testing tools ;)

A lot of people are cheering for UX. Since it’s the nature of UX to take on a holistic viewpoint, they will eventually start to care about usability testing. Over the next few years, the biggest innovations in usability will not be in some academic domain. They will be in making usability testing methods available for ordinary people.

Designers, developers, and any kind of creator will start asking for new ways to improve their work with real users. It will be a time of making usability testing available for the mass market.

Q12. What’s next for you and your career in the next year or two, what would you like to focus on?

That’s a tough one! To be honest with you, we don’t know yet. We always did what we enjoy, and when it works, we do more of it. If it doesn’t work, we just stop doing it. That said, we don’t have any specific plans for our future careers.

Anyway, we want to keep our focus on people. Instead of consulting with these people, we more and more want to help these people help themselves. We want everyone to learn about usability, and start doing their own tests.

Why?

Because we think that’s the most effective way to build something valuable. Being valuable—that’s what we want to focus on.

Conclusion: Interview with the Simplease & Userbrain.net team.

My thanks to Andreas Riedmüller, Markus Pirker, Mathias Placho and Stefan Rössler for their thoughts, and good luck with Simplease and your latest startup, Userbrain!

Clearly, having four co-leaders of a successful strategic design and usability firm is unique in the industry. It is also notable that many applications, whether web or mobile based, are developed in European countries by start-ups, existing businesses and entrepreneurs.

And in my own case, some of the plugins and even the very WordPress theme for this site were developed by entrepreneurs and firms in Central and Eastern European countries. Whether this trend will last who can say, but the interest in UX and Usability expressed by the attendees of the meetings and lectures in European Universities and business conferences is I think a real hint of what the future may have in store for design and development.

Watch out Silicon Valley, a new entrepreneurial hot bed might just possibly be developing in Europe! Only time will tell.

And thanks again to the team at Simplease and UserBrain.net for their time in conducting this interview.

Note: Companies mentioned in this article may or may not be sponsors of this site. However, in no way does their sponsorship or lack thereof impact the results of this or any other editorial content on the site. The editorial content of this and all other articles written by the Editorial team is determined without regard to whether a company is a sponsor of the site or not.

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Usability Testing Tools Poll Results Tell an Interesting Story

UsefulUsability-Poll-What-Usability-Testing-Tool-Do-You-Use-RESULTS-326x235The Usability testing tools poll results are coming in for the question, “What usability testing tools do you use?” Here’s the story that the results to date are telling.

As of December 7th, 2014, there are over 201 votes from 147 visitors of UsefulUsability.com. Although the results are not necessarily statistically significant at this point, there are some interesting trends we can see already.

Chart of Usability Testing Tools Poll Results by Number of Votes for Tools Used

Usability-Testing-Tools-Results-Graph-from-UsefulUsability
Number of Votes for Usability Tools Used by UsefulUsability.com Visitors

Loop11 and UserZoom top the list

Near a dead-heat for first place, both Loop11 and UserZoom rank as the top most voted usability testing tools for this poll among visitors of UsefulUsability.

Why might that be?

Among some of the possible reasons, both of these tools are web-based, they both are remote un-moderated usability testing tools that can be set up anywhere, delivered anywhere, and they both work on both PC-based and Mobile experiences. These are key advantages of web-based tools not shared by platform-based in person tools.

In addition, in my opinion this also reflects the need usability practitioners have for executing research projects that incorporate multiple tools within the main tool. Both Loop11 and UserZoom provide usability, card sort, task metrics, reporting and other handy devices that make conducting and reporting on UX research testing easier and more efficient.

Loop11 Usability Testing Tool image from UsefulUsabilityLoop11 has the ability to provide task based testing of not only your website, but your competitor’s website as well. This enables a true ‘apples to apples’ comparison of your experience versus your competitor’s experience, something that might help from a product or marketing standpoint. In addition, Loop11 provides handy reporting of a variety of user data after completion of the testing. Loop11 offers pricing packages, for either one-off project based needs ($350 per project) or for a more on-going type need of a monthly pricing plan ($158 to $825 per month based on company size).

UserZoom usability testing tool image from UsefulUsabilityUserZoom is another remote un-moderated usability testing tool that has the additional benefit of recording users voices and/or faces as they conduct task, plus recordings of their screen interaction. UserZoom also includes the ability to record sessions (including face and audio) of mobile sessions, a big advantage in helping researchers define the ‘why’ of poor or good task performance. UserZoom also provides other tools very handy for usability and UX research, including Card Sorts, Click testing and heatmaps, Voice of the Customer and more. UserZoom offers several pricing packages, with the Business pricing starting at $19,000 per year. Agency and Consultant pricing is a more reasonable $1,000, and University pricing (you must be a professor) at a price that is not mentioned on their website.

Morae and UserTesting also Rank High

In another near dead-heat for third place, Morae and UserTesting are nearly tied. Morae is a desktop solution that enables recording of usability testing sessions using advanced tools that are perfect for in-person moderated usability testing sessions. UserTesting is a relatively popular service for remote unmoderated usability testing on both PC and Mobile devices.

Why are they both near the top and ranking high?

Both of them are strong tools for usability practitioners that need a robust solution for obtaining critical usability testing research data. Both of these solutions are popular with practitioners, although it takes a bit more expertise to use Morae’s full capabilities than a casual usability fan may realize.

Alternatively, UserTesting was one of the earliest web-based tools to enable even casual usability fans to use a sophisticated system to capture usability testing sessions, at a fraction of lab costs.

Both of them represent unique needs of usability testing, one at the more expert level, and one at the more basic level.

Morae image from UsefulUsabilityMorae by TechSmith is the popular usability testing lab in a box. The tool is PC-based, and enables full recording of all user screen, click and related engagement activity, along with voice and video of the tester. Morae was considered the first tool to allow usability practitioners to be able to be uncoupled from cludgy and clunky video camera, screen capture recorders and lab set-ups. As such, Morea is still a very powerful and useful tool for those practitioners who need to be able to set-up and run in-person moderated usability testing sessions. Pricing for Morae is $1,995, although there are discounts available for government, non-profit and educational institutions.

UserTesting-300x200-image-from-UsefulUsabilityUserTesting was one of the earliest remote un-moderated usability testing tools available and is a popular choice for usability practitioners and others who need quick user experience data. UserTesting offers recorded sessions with both screen interaction and the users voice describing their activity as they perform the testing tasks. UserTesting also offers both PC and Mobile based recorded sessions, which makes learning about cross-device user experiences easy and quick. UserTesting offers the ability to use their own very large panel of testers, or to recruit your own testers. Pricing is a major reason UserTesting quickly became the popular choice of tools for usability research, as each session costs $49, and you can have as many or as few sessions as you wish. A Pro version of pricing is also available for $225 per month for small businesses and $1,250 per month for enterprises.

The rest of the Usability Testing Tools Poll Picks

The rest of the usability testing tools used by visitors to UsefulUsability include a broad mix, but lower vote volume, than the first and second level tools mentioned above. These include TryMyUI, Tobii Eye Tracker, UsabilityTools and Silverback, to name a few. Many of these are listed on my recent article, 14 Usability Testing Tools and my older 24 Usability Testing Tools article, so I won’t go into detail here.

As with the above two groups of tools, the key takeaway from the voting data is web-based tools that enable various research methods using remote un-moderated testing techniques are favored. This is because these tools enable an anytime, anywhere type of testing and research that facilitate data capture when and where researcher’s need it. Likewise, specific tools, such as the Tobii Eye Tracker, perform specific functions that help usability practitioners capture the appropriate data based on their specific research needs.

Together, these tools enable usability and UX research and testing in ways only dreamed of just 10 years ago. What the future may potentially bring is really exciting, and will be the subject of a future article I’ll be writing.

Finally, and most importantly, the voting for this usability testing tools poll will continue, and as the numbers add up we may see clear leaders for first, second, third and other positions. As events warrant I’ll update the data to keep you fully informed as to which usability testing tool is receiving the most votes.

5 690

UsefulUsability-Poll-What-Usability-Testing-Tool-Do-You-UseIt is time for a quick poll. This poll asks you to check any and all usability tools you are currently using. It is fine to check more than one tool.

And if your tool is not listed here, just check ‘Other’ and then in the comments please list your tool.

Which usability tools do you currently use?


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Remember, if your usability testing tool is not listed above just check ‘Other’ and enter your tool or tools in the comments.

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