Tutorial 4: UX Research Tools For UX Designers
“Hi there! 💁How’s it going so far? I’m Jeff, Head of Design here at CareerFoundry. I’m back to walk you through some of the key tools you’ll be using as a UX researcher. I’m joined by Jaye from our Marketing Team—she’s currently also a student on our UI Design Program. Join us on a journey from Pow wow to Post-it notes!”
What are we going to do today?
Welcome to tutorial four of your UX research short course. So far, we’ve looked at different types of user research and introduced some popular research techniques. We’ve also considered what goes into a successful research session. Now it’s time to introduce some tools! For today’s tutorial, we’ve rounded up ten essential user research tools for UX designers. We’ve included tools for all aspects of the user research process, from organization and scheduling to gathering feedback and sharing your findings. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll have a well-rounded overview of the kinds of tools you need to conduct user research.
- Scheduling and meeting tools
- Survey tools
- User testing and feedback tools
- Tools for organizing and sharing your research
- Practical exercise
1. Scheduling and meeting tools
There’s a lot of organization involved in user research, especially if you’re conducting interviews or running scheduled sessions of any kind. For maximum efficiency, you’ll want to employ a dedicated scheduling tool—and fortunately, there are loads out there to choose from! Here are some of our favorites.
Pow wow is a scheduling app that syncs with your Google calendar, allowing research participants to book their own sessions depending on the slots you’ve made available. This is a great tool for more specific bookings, such as in-person interviews or longer testing sessions, as you can be flexible with the length of each booking. You can also use pow wow to automate confirmation and reminder emails, saving you a lot of back-and-forth in the lead up to your user research.
Another user-friendly scheduling tool is YouCanBookMe. This is a good option if you want to schedule a high volume of meetings, as it allows your participants to book a slot anytime your synced calendar shows that you’re free. YouCanBookMe will automatically detect different time zones—especially handy if you’re conducting remote sessions! The free version of this tool gives you unlimited bookings with one synced calendar, making it a cost-effective option if you’re just starting out.
It’s not always possible (or time-efficient) to conduct user research in person, so many designers will run remote sessions instead. If you decide to conduct remote interviews, it’s important to make sure you use a reliable meeting tool—such as Whereby. This is a browser-based tool, which means that your research participants won’t need to register or join; you just send them a link and voil**à! Your remote user interview is underway.
2. Survey tools
Surveys and questionnaires are a key user research method, allowing you to collect lots of data without investing too much time or money. We’ve featured just one of our favorite survey tools here (Typeform), but there are plenty more options to choose from, including SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, and SurveyNuts.
Typeform is a web-based platform that makes it incredibly easy to collect and share both quantitative and qualitative data—ideal for getting feedback on something you’ve designed, or gathering simple demographic data. The user-friendly interface makes it a firm favorite in the design world, and the conversational one-question-at-a-time format is great for participant engagement.
3. User testing and feedback tools
A key aspect of your user research will be to test your ideas on real users. Once you’ve got a concept and are starting to fine-tune the design, you’ll want to see how people interact with it. Is it intuitive? Do your users know where to click? There are some extremely versatile all-in-one tools that can help you answer such questions. Here are our top picks.
UsabilityHub is a remote user research platform that offers a whole host of testing tools—including first-click tests, surveys, preference tests, and five second tests. Just upload a mockup of your design and test it on real users! You can use your own research participants or recruit suitable users from the UsabilityHub panel.
HotJar is an all-in-one feedback and analysis tool, packed with handy features which will show you how your designs perform. With HotJar, you can use heatmaps to see where your users click, and gather feedback through surveys and polls. You can even watch recordings of user testing sessions in action! When it comes to digital product design, a tool like HotJar will help you to uncover key insights early on in the process and make the necessary changes.
4. Tools for organizing and sharing your research
As you conduct user research, you might find that it’s a rather messy process. You may end up with lots of different data all over the place—especially if you’ve used a few different research techniques. Before you get to the analysis stage (which we’ll cover in tutorial seven), you’ll want to organize your research data. Here are some tools which will help you to do so.
ReFramer is a qualitative research tool designed to help you plan, structure, and organize your user research. ReFramer provides a clean, clutter-free space for taking notes during user research sessions, together with a tagging tool which helps you to categorize your notes. This comes in especially handy when you’re analyzing your data and looking for themes—but again, more on that in tutorial seven!
A similar alternative to ReFramer is consider.ly—a collaborative user research repository. When conducting user research, it’s important to preserve your findings beyond the project and make them available for the wider team. Consider.ly offers a centralized location for storing your research findings, and just like ReFramer, also comes with a handy built-in tagging tool.
Google Sheets and Slides
If you prefer to stick to what you know, you can also use Google Sheets and Google Slides to organize your research data and tell the story of your findings. It’s important to remember that user research is all about uncovering insights that drive the product forward—and that these insights are of value to the whole company, not just the design team! So, consider turning your research findings into a Google Slides presentation for everyone to enjoy.
It wouldn’t be a credible UX tools list without the Post-it note, and this trusty little paper tool should accompany you throughout your user research. When it comes to organizing your research data, Post-it notes are extremely flexible; you can arrange and rearrange them by hand until you’ve found the most logical system. This can be a really useful step before transferring your findings to digital format.
That just about concludes our UX research tools list. We’ve narrowed it down to just ten of our tried-and-tested favorites, but feel free to do your own research. It’s worth playing around with a few different options before settling on specific tools, so set up some free trials and find the tools that suit you best.
5. Practical exercise
We’ve almost reached the end of tutorial four, and yep, you guessed it, it’s time for a practical exercise!
In tutorial two, we introduced some popular UX research techniques: user interviews, card sorting, surveys and questionnaires, A/B testing, and diary studies. With these methods in mind, and armed with your newfound knowledge of user research tools, can you create a brief tools list for the following scenarios? For each scenario, pick just one or two tools from our list of ten.
- Conducting remote user interviews
- Collecting as much demographic data as possible about your target users
- Conducting an in-person card sort
- Carrying out user testing on a website mockup to see how it performs
- Organizing your research data so the whole company can see it
Hopefully you’re starting to get an idea of what user research methods require which tools. Once you start conducting user research in the real world, you’ll quickly familiarize yourself with the most important tools out there—it’ll become second nature!
It’s a wrap!
That’s another UX research tutorial complete—good work! In the next tutorial, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the most useful research methods: User interviews. Don’t forget to take the quiz before you go :)
Keen to delve a bit deeper into the wonderful world of UX research tools? Check out the following:
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