UserTesting Alternatives for Usability Testing and Optimization
UserTesting alternatives is a subject that several of you have been asking me about over the past few months. Why? Because UserTesting changed their business model, providing customers with a choice of “Basic” or “Pro Plan” accounts, depending on the amount of features desired. The full set of functions formerly available for their $49 per service plan is now only available with the more expensive “Pro Plan.”
NOTE: I’m a BIG fan of UserTesting. This article is intended to address the questions from those of you that specifically are seeking alternatives to the higher-priced full set of features.
If you visit the UserTesting.com pricing page you’ll see the details about the “Pro Plan” and the “Basic Plan.”
The Basic Plan at $49 per session has a very limited set of functionality. Missing are several important functions like creating highlight reels, downloading the test videos and written responses, and several other features formerly available with the $49 price point.
So for those of you seeking full functionality without the relatively expensive price point, here is a listing of UserTesting alternatives to add to your usability testing toolkit. And for your benefit I have also included some comments from several of the business leaders of those alternative services on why their user testing solution makes them unique or different.
Why did UserTesting change their model?
Frankly, I don’t know exactly why UserTesting decided to change their model, however I have several theories.
But first, don’t get me wrong, as I mentioned I’m a BIG fan of UserTesting and in my opinion they have one of the best tools out there for conducting remote unmoderated usability testing. For the cheap price of only 49 bucks, you get a recorded PC OR Mobile based remote testing recording in just a few hours.
Also, they have the largest number of testers of any of the services, period.
They pretty much built the genre, and saved me and countless other usability pros LOTS of money and time in conducting remote un-moderated usability testing versus in-person moderated testing. UserTesting is the dominant tool in the industry, used by many of the Fortune 500.
So why did UserTesting change?
My guess is that the cost of providing their service to their customers has increased over time, yet their price point did not. I’m guessing their service is expensive, and it could be that they need to charge more for ‘heavy’ users. In addition they probably didn’t want to price themselves out of the marketplace, so they arrived at a solution enabling “basic” users a way to enjoy their service without paying for the expensive functionality that only “pro” users needed. That’s just a theory, but seems logical given the situation.
Whatever the reason for their business model change, it did change, which brings us to the point of what to do if you seek the more advanced functionality but at a lower price point than the $3,000 per year (or whatever it currently costs) Pro Plan.
Again, I’m not bashing UserTesting, just giving you some alternatives if you find you need the functionality but can’t afford the Pro plan.
And a side note here: for some of you who use their service a LOT, that $3,000 per year (or whatever the current price is) may actually be a really good deal!
UserTesting Alternative Suggestions:
Here’s a list of UserTesting alternative suggestions, and at the end of this article in the comments let me know what tool YOU use, and I’ll add them to the list.
FIRST – Be your OWN remote testing solution. You can recreate a remote usability testing service yourself using a simple website intercept (think Ethnio) and a screen sharing tool (think Webex or Skype) and a screen capture tool (think Camtasia). It’s pretty easy, just intercept actual visitors to your website using Ethnio, ask them to participate in a quick usability test, and record and edit their session using a combination of Webex or Skype and Camtasia. The cons with this approach is it doesn’t work on any new websites you’re wanting to test that have zero traffic, nor does it work on competitor sites you may want to test, and of course it requires purchasing the above tools.
SECOND – Use UserTesing at the new price point! Hey, if you do a lot of remote usability testing then their Pro Plan may save you money. You’ll need to chat with them on the particulars, but for those of you who are conducting multiple projects each month, with anywhere from 5-10 sessions per project, then the new pricing may actually be a good deal for you.
THIRD – Use another service. You could try a few other remote unmoderated testing services I have listed below (think TryMyUI, UserBob, UserBrain.net, UserFeel, Userlytics or UserZoom). You’ll have various amounts of success recruiting participants who match your Personas (sorry competitors, but you just don’t have the vast number of testers that UserTesting does). But hey, it’s more economical AND many of them now offer mobile in-app recording of tester screen interaction and voices. The cons are finding participants who match your required Personas, pricing that in some cases can be vary, sometimes being more expensive than UserTesting, and varying levels of customer service if you find issues with your test.
FOURTH – Switch to live, moderated testing and skip remote, unmoderated completely. In some cases this is actually the best, but not easiest, alternative. Why? Because nothing beats having the tester right there, in front of you, so you can capture all their non-verbal queues PLUS do follow-ups on interesting findings or things you want to probe in more detail. Cons are it’s more time consuming, can be more expensive, and becomes impractical if you need to test multiple participants in multiple locations or countries.
List of UserTesting Alternative Services:
Here’s a brief alphabetical listing of several UserTesting alternative services, including my comments and any available comments from their executives.
TryMyUI is a remote unmoderated usability testing service with various price points depending on your testing needs (note, they are also a sponsor of this site). They use a credit payment approach, with each credit costing $35 for the personal plan with PC-based testing at 1 credit and mobile at 2 credits. There are team ($299 / mo) and enterprise level accounts available as well, with pricing that matches the increase in number of tests available.
UserBob is a relative newcomer to the remote unmoderated usability testing space. The service includes the “First Impressions” test, which is a version of a 5 second test, as well as a “Task Completion” and “Custom” version where multiple tasks can be tested. Pricing varies, starting at $10 for the “First Impression” test which delivers 10 one minute videos, $20 for the “Task Completion” test which delivers 4 five minute videos, and variable for the “Custom” version.
John Weidner, the Founder of UserBob has this to say about his service. “I made UserBob as a simple and affordable alternative to the existing services. I wanted to be able to hear user’s first impression of my website. But the other user testing services would have me pay $40 to $50 per user which was not in my budget. I figured out how to get quality results for a lot less using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service. Then I made UserBob so that others could easily get the same results.”
UserBrain.net is another remote unmoderated usability testing tool, but with a twist. This tool is for website owners who wish to continue testing on an on-going basis. The idea is you purchase testing on a monthly basis, with the variation in pricing being the number of testers that evaluate your site each month. There are several price points for the service, starting at $29 per month for one user, $49 for four users (1 a week) and $139 a month for 12 users (3 a week). It’s an interesting concept for website owners that feel the need to continuously test their site’s UX.
Markus Pirker, co-Founder of UserBrain has this to say about his service: “Userbrain is not on-demand, it’s on-going and automates the process of testing. It therefore forces you to improve regularly by continually getting in‑depth usability feedback. The diversity of our users will let you get different perspectives and allow you to see your site freshly even after you’ve worked on it for months or maybe years.”
UserFeel is a more typical remote unmoderated usability testing service with a $39 per session fee. However, the interesting thing about UserFeel is the robust set of non-English speaking nationalities that can test websites for Europe and other Countries. Handy for people that have multi-lingual websites, or sites focused on other nationalities, this is a tool worth exploring to ensure your site works well across the boundaries of nations. UserFeel does not require a monthly fee, which may be helpful for conducting ad-hoc usability tests.
Userlytics is also a remote unmoderated usability testing service with a wide variety of functions and features that may appeal to the more advanced tester, or those needing more features. Userlytics enables searchable transcripts of video sessions, which may help website owners find key points in the recordings to speed up evaluation. Pricing can be as low as $49 per session, but will vary based on the functionality and features you choose. Userlytics also offers a White Label service for practitioners that wish to offer their service without the Userlytics branding.
UsabilityTools offers several sets of usability tools combined into three plans. The “UX Suite” plan offers remote unmoderated usability testing, plus several other usability tools that help define the user experience of the site by actual users (Note: They are a sponsor of this site). The “Conversion Suite” has tools that focus on conversion optimization and measurement of task completion, useful for marketing and UX teams that are interested in optimizing the conversion and thus ROI of their website. The third set of tools is the “Voice of the Customer” tools which measure the opinions and satisfaction of the site’s experience from the actual users. Pricing information requires contacting UsabilityTools but a free trial is available for those that want to kick the tires first.
UserZoom is the last, but not least, service for website usability testing. Among the tests available is remote unmoderated usability testing, along with a wide variety of other tests that experienced testers may find helpful. UserZooms biggest downfall might be its price, which starts at $19,000 per year and rapidly goes up from there. All of a sudden the $3,000 cost of UserTesting isn’t so bad, is it? UserZoom is more than likely the tool of choice for large agencies or big Fortune 500 firms that do a LOT of testing.
Alfonso de le Nuez, Co-Founder and Co-CEO has this to say about UserZoom: “UserZoom offers an all-in-one solution to cost-effectively, quickly and easily test and measure user experience of websites and mobile apps. What sets us apart is the wide range of capabilities and services for both quantitative and qualitative UX research testing, such as remote usability testing, competitive benchmarking, card sorting, international testing, prototype testing, etc. We also offer panel recruiting and UX consulting services.”
What are YOUR UserTesting Alternatives?
So there you have the listing of UserTesting alternatives. Remember, I’m still a fan of UserTesting, and in certain circumstances you may actually be better off using their “Basic” or “Pro” plan than using some of the alternative recommendations in this article. Each testing need is unique, so choose carefully.
But what are YOUR UserTesting alternatives? If you don’t use UserTesting, what DO you use?
Just reply in the comments with your alternatives so we can all grow smarter together.
PS – Owners of other services, please be kind and don’t try to use this blog as an advertisement for your service. You may not like the results of trying to shamelessly promote your service on my blog! #JustSaying