measure the quality of your site

Pulled from http://www.instantshift.com/2009/10/08/10-qualitative-tools-to-improve-your-website/

Userfly

The Rundown: Userfly gives you the ability to watch videos of real users on your website. By adding a single line of JavaScript to your code, you can see every mouse movement and click your visitors make. The interface is easy to use and well designed. You can try it for free, but you’re limited to 10 captures per month. Basic plans start at $10 per month.

The Benefit: While watching videos of your users may seem a little creepy at first, it can provide you with insights that you would never have come up with using a quantitative analytics package. The first time I used it, I noticed a user get stuck on a page with a bad link. His mouse wandered back and forth until he finally abandoned ship. Needless to say, I quickly corrected the issue.

5 second test

The Rundown: Just like it sounds, Five Second Test is a “simple online usability test that helps you identify the most prominent elements of your user interface”, according to Angry Monkeys, the founding company out of Melbourne, Australia. Once you’ve posted a visual, random visitors can take part in a test where they are asked to write down the top 5 things they remember from your piece after only 5 seconds.

The Benefit: The concept is great, and the tool is easy to use and very simple. If you get enough people to take your test, you start to see some interesting patterns, including what people noticed most, and perhaps more importantly, what they didn’t. The only problem is, after 45 days, I only had 12 results. This could stem from a lack of users, or an overabundance of concepts. So, if you do try this tool (and I recommend it – it’s free!), make sure to take advantage of the invite tools to give your concept more visibility and better results.

Usabilla

The Rundown: Usabilla is a nice tool that allows you to collect feedback on wireframes, mockups or webpages. Participants point and click to share their opinion using markers and notes. Usabilla provides visual feedback as well as the reports and statistics to analyze the results. In their own words, “Usabilla provides you insight in the attitude and opinion of your users.” Although it is currently in beta, it’s also free, so get it while it’s hot!

The Benefit: The great thing about Usabilla is that it provides visual feedback. The tool is easy to use and administer, plus you can customize the questions asked based on your needs. One drawback is that, like Five Second Test, you are required to invite your own participants to provide feedback. If your network is relatively small, you may not be able to come up with the results you’re looking for.

Loop11

The Rundown: Loop11 is an online tool for gathering unmoderated usability testing. In a nutshell, the system is an overlay on your website which allows you to present specific tasks on your website to participants. For example, you might say, “Find the contact information on this website”. The user can then navigate the site and either select “Task Completed” or “Abandoned”. Reporting tools give you the ability to see statistics like task completion rate, time per task and most common navigation path. Sound valuable? It sure is, but it also comes with a $350 price tag. Fortunately you can try it once for free.

The Benefit: Loop11 provides the context that both Userfly and ClickTale lack, however, by its nature, participants must be invited and are not live visitors. Despite that, Loop11 helps you understand typical behavior on your website and is great for improving navigation and conversion paths. If nothing else, give the free trial a spin and see what you can discover about your site and how people use it. What you find may surprise you.

UserTesting

The Rundown: Like Loop11, UserTesting.com provides unmoderated usability testing, except this time they provide the users. The premise is simple, you provide the demographic you’re looking for, the number of users you would like and what tasks you want them to perform on your site. When the testing is over, you can access videos (usually 15-20 minutes each -watch a sample) that allow you to watch and listen to the participants, as well as read a written summary describing the problems they found. Prices start at $29 for a single user.

The Benefit: UserTesting.com is great because it makes live user testing affordable. I recently used it on one of my websites and came across some interesting insights that I would have otherwise overlooked. It’s not fully disclosed as to how they find their participants, but fortunately they provide a one-year money-back guarantee.

CrazyEgg

The Rundown: CrazyEgg is an advanced heatmap tool. For those of you unfamiliar with heatmaps, they provide a visual representation of where your visitors are clicking. Over time, you start to see how your users are interacting with your site. With CrazyEgg, you add some JavaScript to your website and setup a test for a specific page on your website for a defined amount of time. Once the test is complete, you can view the page in a variety of formats, including overlay, confetti, list and heatmap (see a demo). Basic plan starts at $9/month which includes 10,000 visits across 10 different pages.

The Benefit: Unlike the heatmap offered in Google Analytics, CrazyEgg shows each and every unique click on your page. It also allows you to segment clicks by traffic source, giving you some powerful information. The best thing about a visual is that you can come to an educated conclusion quickly, without wading through data and numbers. I was able to make some minor, but important, changes to my homepage after just a few minutes in CrazyEgg. So whether you use CrazyEgg or not, you should give heatmaps a chance.

Kample

The Rundown: Kampyle is a small tab that sits at the edge of each web page, allowing you to collect, analyze and manage your website visitor’s feedback. The feedback form is easy to use and its simple structure lets you organize feedback in to various categories, like bugs, suggestions, compliments and site content. Real time reports let you analyze the data and a built-in response system makes it easy to respond to customer inquiries. The free package includes 1 form and 50 items. Basic packages start at $99 per month.

The Benefit: Whether you are interested in actively administering usability tests or not, Kampyle is a passive tool that gives your users the opportunity to provide feedback on each page of your site. With Kampyle’s reporting tools, you are able to get feedback 24/7 from real visitors. Having it present on every page gives you a better understanding of your website, it’s bright spots, as well as needed improvements. Unfortunately, for those of you with a pretty website, the large orange tab might not be a welcome addition.

ClickTale

The Rundown: Like Userfly, ClickTale gives you the ability to watch videos of real users on your website. However, ClickTale also provides a number of extra features, including heat maps, link analytics and form analytics. The reporting tools are impressive, and go in to great detail, sometimes more than you need. While they do offer a free plan, paid subscriptions start at $99 per month.

The Benefit: One drawback, and common complaint about both Userfly and ClickTale, is the lack of context (meaning audio or user intent). While it would be ideal to understand why a user chose the path that they did, something is better than nothing. In the end, ClickTale provides a lot of bang for the buck if you can take advantage of the data it provides.

Google Website optimiser

The Rundown: Google Website Optimizer (GWO) is a free website testing and optimization tool that lets you test and optimize site content and design. Upload a few variations of a web page and GWO will serve them in an alternating pattern to your visitors. Behind the scenes, GWO’s reporting tools are monitoring which combinations lead to the highest conversion rates. At the end of the test, you’ll have a definitive result, allowing you to continually optimize your designs and improve site performance.

The Benefit: While GWO may not be a purely qualitative tool, it should be one of the most important in your toolbelt. Using some of the tools listed above, you can come to better conclusions about which designs and layouts should work best, but GWO provides a real-life litmus test. GWO takes the guesswork out of design and gives you a virtual laboratory to test your assumptions.

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