User Experience / Top 5 UX research tools for digital marketers

Top 5 UX research tools for digital marketers

Georgina Thorne
3d graphic of a telescope to illustrate UX research

In order to fully understand a user’s needs, you should start any UX design project with in-depth user research. This is normally done by a UX researcher who will identify patterns in data and uncover insights that inform your design using the proper UX research tools.

Finding and working with the most helpful tools can not only result in more informed and user-friendly digital products, but also make the research process more enjoyable.

There are a lot of options out there, with different features and price points. The best UX research tools will depend heavily on the target audience, but we’ve compiled a list of our top 5 most used UX research tools to help you find the right one for your needs.

How do you collect data for UX research?

User Experience (UX) research is a critical component of designing user-centred products and services. To effectively collect data for UX research, you’ll need to employ various methods and approaches.

What are the research methods for UX research?

  • Usability testing – Observing users to identify usability issues.
  • Surveys – Collecting quantitative data on user satisfaction and preferences.
  • Interviews – Gaining qualitative insights into user behaviours and motivations.
  • Contextual inquiry – Observing users in their natural environments.
  • Card sorting – Organising information architecture.
  • Eye tracking – Analysing visual design and attention patterns.
  • A/B testing – Comparing variations for user engagement.

Related article:Top 5 UX Research Methods To Save You Designing the Wrong Website

UX Research Tools Worth Your Time

Now that we established the UX research methods, let’s talk about tools There’s a whole UX research toolbox to explore. Heatmaps, user session recordings – they’re your sidekicks in this journey. Get familiar with them, figure out when to use what, and you’re golden. And you know what makes the magic happen? It’s your keen observation skills and that knack for slicing and dicing data like a pro.

Hotjar – UX research and analysis tool

screen shot from the UX research tool Hotjar

At Factory Pattern, one of our favourite UX research tools is Hotjar. Whilst tools like Google Analytics tell you what’s happening with your site, it can’t show you why.

Hotjar provides a real user perspective that shows you where and why your users are struggling to use your site.

Observe patterns in user behaviour with screen recordings, or see which areas get more interactions with click, move and scroll maps.

As it uses real user data from sessions on your website, we recommend getting it set up early on in the research phase to capture as much relevant data as possible.

Hotjar pricing:

Hotjar offers a basic plan with up to 35 daily sessions, unlimited heatmaps and automatic data capture. If you need a higher level of data capture, they offer 3 different pricing options from €32/month.

Check out Hotjar’s pricing plans.

Usability Hub – top choice for user research

screen shot from the Ux tool usability hub

Usability Hub is a great user research platform, with 6 unmoderated study types and 1 moderated study type, as well as a research panel and lots of helpful advice and guidance about UX research.

The global breadth of participants means that you can often get results to your studies within hours, if not minutes.

We especially like how granular you can be with your participants; be as broad as asking anyone at all, or whittle down your participants with more than 35 attributes, including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Relationship status
  • Income
  • Occupation
  • Education
  • Home ownership
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Shopping behaviour

Usability Hub pricing:

Whilst Usability Hub offers a free plan to get you started, all plans do require the additional purchase of credits to get responses. If you’re looking to do a larger amount of research, they offer a variety of pricing options to suit your needs, from $89/month.

Check out the pricing plans available for Usability Hub.
Related article:UX Research Cheat Sheet: Breaking Down the Methods Used

Maze – user research tools

screen shot from the website of the UX tool Maze

If you’re looking for a research platform to get insights into your digital products, then Maze is a great option.

Using research methods like tree testing, card sorting, 5-second testing, and prototype testing, you can gather quick feedback on the effectiveness and usability of your designs from a panel of over 121,000 participants.

Thanks to the large base of testers, from more than 130 countries, you can expect results within hours, rather than days.

Additionally, you can refine and define your participants by many different attributes including age, gender, language, industry, and country.

Maze pricing:

Maze has a free plan to get you started with UX research tools, or paid plans that start from $75/month.

Find out more about Maze’s pricing plans.

Userbrain – UX research made easy

page from the Userbrain UX tool website

Hearing what real users think of your digital products, and how they interact with them is a really insightful and helpful way to improve usability and UX.

Userbrain is a UX research tool that shows you how real people interact with your digital product.

The easy-to-use process lets you get valuable research within hours; simply set up tasks for participants to complete, select testers based on their demographics, and wait for videos of real people using your digital product to arrive.

Userbrain pricing

The free plan offers 2 testers from the Userbrain pool and 5 sessions with your own testers.

Paid plans start at €299/month.

Check out Userbrain’s pricing details.
Read also:6 Web design services all ecommerce businesses should consider

UXtweak – all-round UX research tool

page from the UXtweak website

If you’re looking for a UX research tool that will cover almost all your testing needs in one place, then UXtweak is the one for you.

From a wide range of methodologies including card sorts, mobile, & prototyping tests, and surveys, to participant recruitment, UXtweak can get you started with any research project.

The friendly and welcoming UI makes the platform approachable and accessible for both beginners and experienced researchers.

Results are delivered in helpful insights, making this a great option, especially for newcomers to UX Research.

UXTweak pricing:

UXTweak has a free plan which lets you try out all of their methodologies, with some limitations which is a great option to test out the platform. Their paid plans start at €144/month per user licence, with a buy two, get one free option.

Explore pricing plans for UXTweak.

Picking the right tool

UX Research is a highly important part of the digital product process, and it’s important to find the right user research tools to help you collect the most useful data.

Take some time to explore your options, test out a few tools for user research with free trials and make an informed decision. When you’re familiar with the toolset, try carrying out an effective UX audit. We would recommend following a decent UX audit template, so nothing gets left out.

You might find that a combination of a few tools works best for your needs and budget, or an all-in-one platform could meet your requirements best.

And remember, improvement is an ongoing gig. Stay open to feedback, adapt as the UX world dances ahead, and keep those user experiences top-notch. It’s not just about acquiring skills; it’s about crafting experiences that truly resonate with people.
Related article:UX Audit of Grind Coffee Product Page

What are the stages of UX research?

In general, UX research can be split into four distinctive stages:

  1. Planning – Start by defining objectives and your target audience. Then, choose suitable ux research tools and develop your research protocols.
  2. Data collection – Utilise your chosen tools to record observations and user feedback.
  3. Analysis – Take a good look at what you’ve collected. Interpret data and identify patterns and trends. Then, create personas and user journey maps.
  4. Reporting and implementation – Present your findings to stakeholders. Based on what you discovered, collaborate with development, PR and design teams to implement changes. Once finished, monitor and iterate based on user feedback.

How can I improve my UX research skills?

Improving your UX research skills is like embarking on a personal journey, one that requires a blend of curiosity and dedication. You know, it’s all about staying in the loop with what’s happening in the world of UX. Dive into interesting reads, catch webinars, and hey, if you’re up for it, attend some cool conferences or meet fellow enthusiasts.

But let’s not forget the heart of it all – empathy. Understanding your users, like really understanding them, is the secret sauce in making your research effective. Here’s a tip: don’t be shy about collaborating with others, especially professionals from different backgrounds. They bring fresh, outside-the-box perspectives that can worth more than pure gold.

Takeaways

  • Begin UX design with user research for informed decisions.
  • Choose the right tools – they are crucial for effective research.
  • Diversify research methods when collecting data.
  • Four key stages – planning, data collection, analysis, and reporting.