Conducting user research is an important part of creating and providing an exceptional user experience (UX). Understanding how people use your products and navigate your website helps you improve upon your existing products and services, create prototypes for new ones, craft more personalized messaging, and more. But how do you pick a user research tool to collect these valuable user insights?
I’ve researched and reviewed the best user research tools on the market to help you find one that suits your needs. Read my overviews of each platform below.
What Are User Research Tools?
User research tools are typically software platforms that support the process of conducting research to understand users' needs, behaviors, and attitudes. They come in various forms, including survey tools, analytics tools, usability testing tools, and user feedback tools.
UX research tools are designed to help teams gather and analyze data from customers. These insights can inform the design process and the development of products, services, or experiences. The tools can be used to collect both quantitative and qualitative data, conduct user interviews, analyze session recordings, run preference tests, and more.
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UserTesting is a customer insights platform for gathering user feedback from digital and in-person experiences. UserTesting has an online community of testers you can tap into according to demographic categories you set yourself (age, gender, location, etc.). The software automatically generates highlight reels to help uncover patterns from numerous testing sessions.
UserTesting is the best UX research tool with a customer journey mapping feature to understand how customers use your website, product, or mobile app. You can use UserTesting to identify points of frustration that could increase churn rate. UserTesting lets you scrutinize user behavior to uncover existing customer needs you can address in product updates.
UserTesting integrates with other tools like Google Analytics, Survey Monkey, Adobe XD, and Google Calendar.
UserTesting provides pricing upon request.
Survicate is an online survey tool for measuring NPS, CSAT, CES, and other customer service aspects. It has customizable surveys that allow you to change the colors, fonts, and layouts and brand your survey to make it unique. You can use Survicate to automate surveys using customer behaviors like exit intents, length of website visits, and website scrolling speed.
Survicate has a free forever plan with limited features for up to 25 responses per month, while the pricing for the paid plans starts at $65/month/up to 250 survey responses.
Hotjar helps you understand how users experience your website. It has live playbacks of user movement to monitor clicks, scrolls, and mouse cursor pathways. It can even determine where “rage clicks” happen, usually marked by multiple high-pressure clicks in one area. Hotjar has a survey tool for creating targeted surveys for users and members of online communities to understand your users better, and receive ideas and suggestions. Hotjar can also create a user suggestions box to get direct customer feedback about your website, mobile app, or product.
Hotjar is the best user research tool for heat maps. Hotjar's heatmaps let you see where users click, move, and scroll while using your website to identify the most used features. It lets you compare user behavior before and after releasing changes to assess their impact. You can also use Hotjar to identify seldom-used features to improve or replace them with better options.
Hotjar integrates with tools like Google Optimize, Segment, Optimizely, and Omniconvert. You can connect Hotjar to a paid Zapier account to access more premium apps.
Hotjar has a free forever plan with limited features, while the pricing for paid plans starts at $31/month/up to 30,000 sessions. Hotjar offers a free 15-day trial of their paid plans.
Userlytics is a usability testing platform with a global participant panel for testing your product or app. Userlytics has a custom screener for targeting a specific demographic or customer community during testing. It has UX reports for visualizing user test results, including actionable insights for improving customer experience.
Userlytics is the best user research tool with a dedicated QA team to make sure that you have the quality results you need. With the help of Userlytics' QA team, you can save time because you don't have to scrub test results. This can also help weed out unqualified respondents that might compromise the integrity of test results.
Userlytics pricing starts at $499/month and offers a free demo upon request.
Lucky Orange is a user research tool with heat maps to track customer engagement with your website. You can record customer sessions to know how customers use your website—where they are slicking, hovering, and getting stuck. It has live chat to touch base with customers based on page behavior or traffic segmentation.
Lucky Orange is the best user research tool for fleshing out comprehensive visitor profiles. Visitor profiles keep track of customer interactions across their history with your product as well as basic data like chat logs, key events, pages viewed, when they were last online, and what (if anything) they bought.
Lucky Orange has a free version with limited features, while the pricing for paid plans starts at $18/month/account. They offer a 7-day free trial of their paid plans.
BetaTesting is a user research software for customer engagement data and user feedback on iOS and Android apps. You can use BetaTesting to conduct group tests by scheduling multiple users simultaneously. This UX research software has an in-app bug submission feature so participants can report errors and help you improve your tests.
BetaTesting offers access to a worldwide tester network to get feedback from real users in their native environments. They have a network of more than 350,000 testers and allow for targeting of a specific demographic like age, gender, location, education, or tech experience. BetaTesting's screening survey tool lets you refine your targeting by only admitting testers who passed pre-set qualifications.
BetaTesting pricing starts at $650/month for up to 4 tests per year.
Maze is a product research platform for testing new product concepts or testing the ease-of-use for existing ones. You can use the platform to test product prototypes for usability and identify areas where you need to improve. Maze lets you use a custom domain URL to share tests and results quickly with users and product design team members.
Maze is the best user research software with a 5 Second Test feature for gauging first impressions of advertising materials. You can use this feature to see how your test audience reacts to your advertisement and make changes based on your observations. You can use this test to learn how your audience views your company to see if your advertising materials align with your branding.
Maze integrates with tools like InVision, Figma, Sketch, and Adobe XD.
Maze has a free forever plan with limited features for one user, while the pricing for paid plans starts at $75/month/up to 3 users.
Empathetic is user research software for getting insights from customers. It acts as the central repository of research data where product teams can store video files and audio transcriptions of user interviews. This customer intelligence platform lets you send micro surveys that participants can quickly finish to increase response rates.
Empathetic is the best UX research tool with a participant management feature for finding and recruiting research participants. This platform can add tags to research participant profiles to segment participants in groups.
You can send notifications to targeted participants to increase survey participation rate.
Empathetic provides pricing details and a free demo upon request.
LogRocket is a frontend monitoring and product analytics software. This product analytics platform has a session replay feature for reproducing issues encountered during user sessions. You can use it to monitor frontend performance issues like page load times, browser crashes, or component rendering to see how they affect user engagement and conversion rates.
LogRocket has a free forever plan for up to 1,000 sessions. Pricing for the paid versions starts at $99/month/for up to 10,000 sessions. LogRocket offers a 14-day free trial.
EthOS is a UX research tool for gathering pictures, videos, and audio data from your customers as they use your products in real time. It has notifications (email and push) to alert respondents to new surveys or testing opportunities. EthOS supports unlimited video length so it’s great for products that take more than a few minutes at a time to explore.
EthOS has a great live chat interview feature for real-time user conversations. EthOS lets you ask follow-up questions based on user activity in a direct messaging window. This user research software lets you conduct individual chat sessions or focused group discussions that can include multiple participants.
EthOS provides pricing details and a demo upon request.
The Best User Research Tools & Software Summary
Best user research tool with customer journey mapping built-in
Free demo available
|Pricing available upon request||Website|
Best user research tool for surveys
10-day free trial
Best user research tool with heatmapping
15-day free trial + free plan available
Best for access to a dedicated QA team
Free demo available
Best user research tool for comprehensive visitor profiles
7-day free trial + free plan available
Best for access to a worldwide tester network
|From $650/month for up to 4 tests per year||Website|
Best user research tool for A/B ad tests
Free plan available
Best user research tool for sourcing participants
Free demo upon request
|Pricing upon request||Website|
Best user research tool for session recordings
14-day free trial
Best user research tool with a live chat interview feature
Free demo upon request
|Pricing upon request||Website|
Best user research tool for audio-to-text transcription services
Best user research tool for feature prioritization feedback
- Pixis Insights
AI tool for assessing audience pulse and identifying market trends.
- Great Question
Customer research platform for turning customer interviews into research data and reports.
- ProProfs Survey Maker
Tool for creating surveys and online forms.
Usability testing tool for websites, prototypes, and mobile apps.
Research tool for running customer studies.
User feedback tool for surveying website and mobile app users.
User testing platform for uncovering product insights.
Selection Criteria For The Best User Research Tools
If you're wondering how I selected the best user research tools, here's where I'll break it all down for you. First of all, I started with user research platforms that have high user satisfaction ratings. Then, using my experience with user experience research, I discerned what key criteria were most important for user research software, and compared how each of them stacked up against the rest. I’ve outlined my evaluation criteria here:
At its base, the platform should be able to assist you in conducting user research. This may take shape as one or more of the following functionalities:
- Session recordings: Recording and replaying how users navigate your website, web store, or web or mobile app.
- Heatmaps: A visual representation that might include first-click testing, scrolling, mouse activity, or other behavior.
- User feedback: Collecting feedback from real users through surveys and real-time user interviews.
Depending on the nature of the user research tool, it may also include any of the following key features:
- Tester sourcing: The ability to recruit participants for research projects, possibly by offering incentives for respondents.
- Prototype testing: Testing UX design ahead of development, such as through wireframe, sketch, or tree testing.
- Analytics tools: Tools to derive actionable insights from your research, like measuring metrics and benchmarking.
- Unmoderated testing: Running unmoderated usability testing directly with research participants, with no third party involved.
The best UX research tools are straightforward and easy to navigate. Not only will a user-friendly interface provide a better experience for research participants, it will also help streamline your research process and make it easier to present your findings to your stakeholders. I also looked for platforms that provide usability features like templates, tutorials, transcription services, and tester follow-ups.
You want a user research software that will connect with your existing toolkit. I looked for platforms that integrate with popular UX/UI design tools, like Figma and Adobe XD. I also looked for integrations with tools to help you conduct your user research. This included software like Zoom (video interviews), Slack (user sourcing), Miro and Invision (brainstorming), Typeform (form creation), and Google Analytics (analysis).
The cost of a user research platform can vary, and the ones on my list range from around $8 all the way up to $80 per user per month. Some tools offer a free plan, and tiered paid plans are generally offered to suit various needs. To help you pick a software that matches your budget, I’ve included pricing information in each overview. Plus, I added details about any free trial or plan.
What are the benefits of using user research tools?
What are commonly used user research methods?
What is the difference between CX and UX?
What do you think about this list?
Knowing what users and customers want and need is important for companies because they can use this information to improve their products and develop new ones. The best user research tools can help companies uncover customer needs and product improvement opportunities. With innovations stemming from customer insights, companies can improve customer engagement and increase their revenues.
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