User experience matters. Even a single bad experience on your application or website may be enough to drive potential customers away. In fact, research from PWC found that 32% of buyers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience.
The point? Getting UX right is critical to help keep potential customers engaged in the journey and move them along the pipeline from initial click to eventual conversion. The challenge? Developing and deploying a solid UX from scratch isn’t easy.
In this piece, we’ll highlight 17 great UX tools that can help enhance the user experience and increase your online impact. Let’s get started.
Exploring the UX Impact
Why does UX matter so much? Because it helps users understand what they’re supposed to do and how they’re supposed to do it.
We encounter UX examples every day in real life — and while we don’t typically use this term to describe them, the processes and potential frustrations are identical.
Consider this picture of an entryway:
See the problem? While the flat metal pads suggest the doors should be pushed open, the sign on the right-hand door indicates that users must pull, despite the fact there’s no way to actually accomplish that goal.
This is a classic case of bad UX design. Mixed messages and counterintuitive functions make it frustrating just to look at this door, let alone attempt to open it. The most likely scenario for a potential visitor? Turning around and walking away — either to find another entrance or visit another business.
For effective UX, there’s an easy rule of thumb: it must be simple, clear, and accessible.
The Three-Stage Approach to Better UX
When it comes to designing great digital UX, three stages are critical: capture, creation, and confirmation.
Capture stage: This stage is centered on user research — the process of collecting data about what potential customers want, what they don’t, and where your UX needs to improve.
Creation stage: This stage is all about design. Here, you’re putting the work into developing online UX that aligns with research data.
Confirmation stage: This stage focuses on user testing to ensure your UX is working as intended, both from a purely functional standpoint and from the perspective of users interacting with your service or application.
Below we’ll look at 17 UX tools that fall into these different stages.
User Interviews is exactly what you’d expect: A tool that lets you conduct user interviews to discover what people want from your UX, what they like (or don’t) about your current user experience and what suggestions they have to make it better.
The tool boasts an available user audience of up to 400,000 vetted participants that can be targeted by geography, demographics or other criteria, or you can bring your own users to the table.
Dovetail is a cloud-based research platform that lets you capture and store everything from notes to transcripts to videos and audio recordings, then analyze this data repository for common trends you can use to improve UX.
Along with a free trial of basic features, you can access Dovetail analytics for $15 per month or analysis and data repository functions for $100 per month.
Google Analytics comes with big time name recognition, and with good reason — the tool has access to a massive amount of user data. Google Analytics doesn’t cost anything to use and can be leveraged to track key metrics such as bounce rates, traffic sources, and user demographics. In effect, this tool takes research beyond users’ opinion to target user behavior and discover where, when, and why they’re clicking through or leaving your site.
Airtable lets you easily schedule and manage user interviews, collect feedback, and then group user insights by common theme or keyword to help target critical concerns. Worth noting? Airtable offers a host of workflow and analytics functions beyond UX research, making it a great all-around tool for online businesses.
Free options are available if you’re just getting started with UX research, or you can upgrade to the Plus version of Airtable for $10 per month, per seat.
Dscout comes with more than 100,000 potential research participants to recruit, and results are available in as little as 48 hours. This tool also prioritizes the value of unmoderated, one-to-one video research that lets your team see how users are interacting with your site or service in real time. The result? You get a ground-floor view of where your site makes sense and where things aren’t working as intended.
To learn about pricing, you’ll have to contact Dscout directly.
Lucidchart is a flowcharting tool that makes it easy to see how processes and features on your website are connected. The tool features drag-and-drop functionality along with real time collaboration and can also be connected to other services including GitHub, Salesforce, or Microsoft Office. And since the solution is cloud-based, there are no restrictions on when or where you can design your next functional flowchart.
If you’re getting just started with UX design, you can edit three documents for free with Lucidchart or pay $7.95 for unlimited access.
Omnigraffle is designed specifically for iOS and Mac services that makes it possible to create software and website mockups. While OS-agnostic tools are great for most design functions, there’s a case to be made for iOS-specific UX, especially if this application framework is your priority. Apple users have very high expectations for their user experience — Omnigraffle helps ensure you’re getting it right the first time.
This UX tool comes with a 14-day free trial. After that, you can opt for a $12.49 per month subscription or pay $149.99 for a standard license.
Adobe XD is a wireframing tool for both MacOS and WIndows devices. It lets you create website wireframes, mockups, and prototypes in the same design file and comes with a minimalist interface that helps streamline the UX design process.
Adobe’s starter plan is free and comes with 2GB of storage and one sharable prototype. For $9.99 per month you can design and share unlimited prototypes with 100GB of cloud storage space.
InVision offers a centralized design, development, and product environment that makes it easy to move through the UX creation stage. Released in 2018, the tool has gained substantial ground for its streamlined collaboration and Jira support for better project management.
Worth noting? This tool is only available for MacOS.
$7.95 per month gets you the Pro plan, which includes unlimited documents and archiving for 15 collaborators, while the free version lets three active users collaborate on up to three active projects.
Sketch is another MacOS tool and high-quality wireframe tool. This lightweight vector design tool is intuitive, iterative, and makes it easy for teams to quickly design site or service wireframes. While the tool itself is fairly basic, it offers easy integration with other design tools, in turn making it a great starting point for UX wireframe building.
Sketch offers plans for $9 per month or $99 per year.
Axure empowers prototyping and makes it easy for your teams to keep track of UX design workflows. This solution takes the opposite approach to Sketch with full-featured and high-fidelity designs along with functional testing and easy developer handoff once prototypes are built.
Along with a free trial, Axure offers Pro, Team and Enterprise plans that include unlimited prototypes and reviews. The Team plan adds cloud hosting, while the Enterprise plan comes with a company domain for internal use.
FlowMapp is all about sitemap design. Unlike some of the tools listed above that offer multiple functions in one package, FlowMapp focuses on creating a user journey that’s simple, streamlined, and effective. Right now, FlowMapp offers Sitemap, User Flow, Personas, and Customer Journey Map solutions — Wireframe tools will be offered in a later update.
Pricing for FlowMapp starts with a free tier that includes one active project and 100MB of space, while it’s Pro Tier comes in at $99 per year for 7 active projects and 12GB of space.
Google Optimize is a free A/B testing tool that lets you easily evaluate how well your site is working. Once you’ve identified a webpage that needs improvement, the Optimize editor lets you make changes and run tests to see if these changes positively impact specific metrics. Once you’ve completed your testing, you can use Google Optimize to go live with the version of your site that offers the best results.
Crazy Egg also offers A/B testing but is better known for its heatmapping function: Using visual reports that show where users are clicking through and navigating to the most, you can target areas of your site that aren’t working as intended, then rerun heatmap tests to see if the changes were effective.
Along with a 30-day free trial, Crazy Egg offers a host of plans from Basic to Enterprise. Their most popular Plus plan is $99 per month and covers 150,000 tracked pages, 75 snapshots, and 1,000 recordings each month.
Formerly Clicktale, Contentsquare is all about tracking and fixing site and service issues. The tool is designed to discover where, how, and why your application fails and help eliminate the root causes of the problem. By combining actual customer behavior and machine learning, Contentsquare can extrapolate likely actions and see where things aren’t working as intended.
If you’re curious about Contentsquare’s pricing, you’ll have to contact their sales department to learn more.
Refiner lets you close the customer feedback loop with customized surveys to discover what users like, what they don’t, and what they want to see improved. With a focus on high-converting survey widgets, Refiner also helps increase the number of respondents who actually open and answer your survey to deliver a more comprehensive view of UX impact.
Pricing starts at $49 per month for up to 1,000 responses per month and $129 per month for up to 5,000 responses per month.
Loop11 is all about usability testing, and takes this approach to the next level with the ability to record audio and video of users actually interacting with your site. This type of feedback is invaluable. While it’s one thing to analyze written survey data, actual interactions provide an unfiltered look at what users really like — or don’t — about your site.
Get Loop11 for $63 per month with unlimited tasks and questions for three projects per month, or bump it up to 10 projects per month for $239.
UX: Making it Great
Great UX is the foundation of any successful site or service. Armed with the right tools, your business can ensure all aspects of your UX process — from data capture to creation and confirmation — are aligned to deliver the best possible experience for users.
Originally published Sep 13, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated September 13 2021