Our guide to the best software for UX design
There are so many UX tools to choose from and we all have our favourites, so to help whittle them down for you, we’ll share our guide to the best software for UX design along with some top tips we’ve learned along the way.
Every UX design project must start with in-depth user research, usually conducted by a UX researcher in order to fully understand your users needs, identify patterns in data and uncover insights to inform your design.
Google Analytics is a web analytics service provided by Google to report on website traffic data.
You can identify patterns in data such as bounce rate, drop-off rate and ecommerce behaviour.
Using segments, you can also compare data between different groups of users, or compare different date ranges to observe patterns in behaviour.
Google Analytics is great at showing us the ‘What’ through in-depth quantitative data.
Google is currently in the process of rolling out Google Analytics 4, and by July 2023, Universal Analytics will no longer process new data. If you haven’t already, we recommend setting up a GA4 account and taking some time to learn how to use it. There are lots of great resources out there to help guide you.
Pricing: Google Analytics is free for most users, including small businesses. However, large scale enterprises who need advanced features may need Google Analytics premium, which will cost $150,000.
Whilst Google Analytic shows us the ‘What’, Hotjar gives you visual insights to understand the ‘Why’, making Hotjar must-have software for UX design.
Screen recordings let you see how users interact with your ecommerce website, and highlight obstacles that users face.
Heatmaps visually show you how users move, scroll and click on your site, and allow you to compare between desktop, tablet and mobile devices.
We find Hotjar really helps us to take the guesswork out of our design process, and actually shows us what users engage with.
Hotjar needs real user sessions to capture data, so we recommend getting it set up early on to ensure you have sufficient results to observe.
Pricing: Hotjar offers a basic plan with up to 35 daily sessions, unlimited heatmaps and automatic data capture. If your team needs something more, they offer 3 different pricing options:
- Plus: €32/month – for small teams who need more sessions and tools
- Business: €80/month – for growing companies who want custom-built integrations
- Scale – for experts who need unlimited sessions and lots of features
Check out Hotjars pricing plans here
Baymard Institute has compiled 88,000+ Hours of UX Research focusing on ecommerce websites, uncovering what causes usability issues and offer detailed advice on how to create “State of the Art” user experiences.
Their thorough UX review tool allows you to measure your own designs against the benchmarks, and then compare them to the top ecommerce websites in the US and Europe.
The premium version gives you access to the full UX database of research, and extensive design guidelines to inform your own ecommerce UX designs.
Pricing: Baymard offers a free limited catalogue to all users, but if you need more in depth content, you can choose from 4 payment plans:
- Starter: $75/month – the core 35% of research findings
- Comprehensive: $150/month – the full catalogue of UX research across the standard industries
- Specialty: $217/month – access to all standard and specialty industries
- Organisation: custom pricing – for companies with multiple teams, sites, international sites or external partners
Another useful tool for capturing qualitative data is UX Metrics. Invite test participants to take part in tree testing to establish whether your site architecture is effective, and understand how to improve it.
We love UX Metrics as it makes it quick and easy to set up tree tests, and also presents clear results which allow you to extract insights and iterate the design.
Pricing: UX Metrics offers a great, free plan with unlimited studies and unlimited participants. But if you need advanced features, they offer one paid plan.
- Pro: $29/month – add branding to studies, export data to XLS, and randomise test orders for unbiased results
Check out UX Metrics’ full pricing info here
Wireframing and design
Now that you’ve gathered your UX research, it’s time to move into wireframing and designing. Keep reading to find out our favourite software.
Wireframing is faster, more collaborative, and more efficient with Whimsical. With one piece of software, you can build sitemaps, plan projects, and create collaborative docs with kanban boards, and effortless wireframes.
Thanks to its extensive library of pre-built, editable elements, we can rapidly build wireframes, and focus on the structure and content needed, without needing to worry about the smaller details of building individual elements.
We also love that Whimsical keeps everything clean, and consistent, and keeps us focused on the layout, rather than the styling and design considerations – they come later on!
Finally, you can collaborate in real-time with the rest of your team; as Whimsical put it ‘the “Google Docs” for wireframes’.
Pricing: Whimsical has a free plan with limited items and up to 10 guests per file. They also offer 2 paid options:
- Pro: $10/month – unlimited items & viewers, 10+ guests, and priority support
- Organisation: $20/month – unlimited items, teams, custom contract
Like Whimsical, Figma has revolutionised our design process by allowing collaborative work.
To ensure consistency when working in a team, use Figma to build complex design systems, and import them as libraries into design files.
Figma’s tools make it easy to build out designs for the web, in a wide range of screen sizes. Features like Auto Layout let you focus on iterating and leave the resizing to Figma.
The Figma community has made it even easier to boost your team’s output capabilities with countless, open source plugins and widgets. Save time taken by looking for resources on other websites, and build up a workspace that works for you.
Figma also has extensive prototyping capabilities that allow you to bring your ideas to life and show stakeholders how your design will look in the real world, without needing to develop it.
Pricing: Figma has a free starter plan which includes 3 Figma and 3 FigJam files.
- Professional: £11/editor/month
- Organisations: £38/editor/month
The final piece of software for UX design we want to share with you is for the testing stage of your project. Usability hub is a user testing platform that allows you to test your designs with real users.
With 9 different types of tests to choose from, you can gain valuable insights and iterate your designs to make sure users will respond positively.
Our favourites include:
- Prototype tests give users a task or set of tasks to complete
- First-click tests ask users to complete a task by clicking somewhere on the design
- Five-second tests show users an image briefly before being asked a series of questions
Pricing: Usability hub has a free plan for occasional testing with minimal collaborators and unlimited self-recruited responses. Their paid plans include:
- Basic: $89/month – ideal for individual researchers running basic tests
- Pro: $199/month – great for larger teams with unlimited test lengths
That sums up our guide to the best software for UX design. Every designer and team works differently so use this list as inspiration, try out 1 or 2 if you feel that something is missing from your workflow.
Most of the tools for UX design we’ve discussed offer a free trial or option so you can try them out before signing up for a paid plan.
Want to learn more about UX? Find out more about the essential ecommerce UX Design principles