Making product decisions based on blind assumptions is risky. You don’t want to spend weeks building a new feature or a product only to realize no one wants it.
UX Research helps avoid such dead ends. Before you build, you get to validate the assumptions you’re building on. Of course, the right UX research tools go a long way in making your research more fruitful.
Here’s an overview of the 15 of the best UX research tools for you to consider.
Recruiting research participants is easily one of the hardest parts of UX Research. It’s probably the most boring part as well.
The easiest way to recruit research participants is by using an existing research panel.
A research panel is a UX research tool that gives you access to potential research participants, offering them compensation in exchange (usually in the form of money or Amazon gift cards). The benefit of using a panel is that you can recruit the right “persona” of users within a very short amount of time (often within 24 hours), with limited scheduling efforts on your side.
💡 Pro-tip: While research panels reduce the amount of scheduling work you’ll have to do, there are a couple of flags with these kinds of products:
To identify the right participant out of the “panel”, it’s recommended to “screen” the participants—you’ll ask participants to answer some questions that help you identify if they’re the right fit.
For example, if you’re looking for middle school teachers, your screener may look like this:
Here are some of the best user research recruiting tools to help you find the right participants!
User Interviews is a UX research tool that connects user researchers and participants.
You can filter out potential participants based on different parameters like age, location, industry, etc., to find the right participants for your studies. In exchange, participants are compensated fairly, incentivizing them to contribute to the research.
User Interviews lets you:
UserInterviews is one of the most established and well-loved recruiting products in the industry. They ensure their panel of participants is reliable and their turn-around times for scheduling calls are amazing (often 24-48 hours!). This is definitely one of our favorite research panels to turn to in a pinch, but they can get pricey if you're on a small budget.
The pricing depends on which product you choose.
If you are subscribing to Recruit, the price depends on the size of your team or company. Apart from the Pay As You Go category, which is charged per session, all other categories are billed annually.
Check out the pricing table below for more details:
For Recruit (panel to recruit participants)
Userinterviews also serve those who want to manage a panel of their own participants for research studies. Let’s say you run a lot of research with existing customers of your product—you can use User Interviews’ Research Hub to store the data of these people and simplify the painful scheduling activities (emailing users, reminders, etc.).
There are multiple tiers to the ‘Research Hub’ product, based on how many contacts (participants) you have in your panel. The price of the product varies by the number of contacts in the panel as well.
If you ever want to increase the contacts limit for your subscription, you can reach out to the User Interviews team. The price figures mentioned below are the monthly rate billed annually.
For Research Hub
Customer Reviews & Ratings: 4.6/5 on G2
Respondent is another participant recruiting platform that helps researchers conduct research with verified participants in person or online. This platform sources professional participants from different social networks like LinkedIn.
From everything we’ve heard, Respondent can be a more cost-effective alternative to UserInterviews.com. If you are budget constrained, try recruiting with incentive amounts lower than those suggested by the Respondent website and you may still be able to get participants.
Respondent offers two pricing options, 1) Pay As You Go and 2) Credit Bundles.
In Pay As You Go, the service fee is 50% of your chosen incentive fee (e.g., if you are offering a $100 incentive, $50 of that goes to the Respondent). If you buy a credit bundle instead (credits can be used to “buy” a session with a participant) you pay a smaller percentage fee to the Respondent.
Survey tools help in collecting data online from your potential audience. Before you conduct a survey, you must have a clear objective and scope to get the best results.
The following are the best survey tools to run studies:
SurveyMonkey is a UX research tool that helps users and researchers conduct surveys through emails, web links and embedded forms on their website or via social media. You can conduct your surveys in multiple languages and easily collect the data in one view.
SurveyMonkey is easy to get started with and comes ready with templates you can use to set up your study. If you’re dealing with a simple study, their analytical capabilities will be fine, but for a more complex one, you may end up spending a ton of time analyzing your data in an excel sheet.
SurveyMonkey has multiple plans you can choose from based on your team size and the scale of your survey.
The basic plan is free which is best for individuals who wish to conduct surveys on a small scale. The paid plan intends to serve teams, but can also be used by individuals and enterprises. People who work at enterprises can contact the sales team for custom plans that support enhanced governance and security.
The cost of each plan has been tabulated below:
Note: All the plans are billed annually.
If you are looking for an easy-to-use research tool for surveys, Google Forms is the best fit.
For basic surveys on a limited budget, Google Forms is a convenient and cost-effective option. It does lack advanced customization options, but it’s easy to get up and running with very quickly!
Bonus: It syncs really well with Google sheets so it’s easy to port your data into a spreadsheet view and start analyzing.
Not much to say—it's free!
If you’re looking for an all-in-one qualitative research platform that can handle everything from recruitment to running moderated and unmoderated tests, and generating transcripts in one place, you may want to consider the options below.
This platform is a UX research tool designed for UX researchers, marketers, managers and UX designers to get insights on websites, apps, products, and prototypes by conducting studies like 1:1 live interviews, moderated and unmoderated usability tests, click tests, surveys, tree tests and card sorts.
UserZoom has now been acquired by UserTesting.com, which is an interesting case of the two biggest user research platforms merging. In our view this is the value you’ll get from UserZoom:
If you don’t have a budget constraint and want one tool to handle multiple parts of the research flow, UserZoom is a good option.
Keep in mind, you will need to use other tools for analysis so it’s not really an all-in-one platform. Also, with great options like UserInterviews.com, Maze and Looppanel (self-plug, we know 😂), UserZoom is an incredibly expensive alternative with limited additional value.
UserZoom has custom pricing—you will need to get in touch with the sales team to learn how much a subscription will set you back.
Here are the features included in each type of plan:
UserTesting is an end-to-end research platform that lets you conduct everything from live interviews to brand and messaging testing, usability testing, tree testing, card sorting and clickstream tracking.
Similar to UserZoom, UserTesting’s main value is in recruiting participants for you, as well as bringing multiple research processes to one place. Their moderated tests are now run on Zoom, which makes you wonder whether it’s worth paying their high price tags just for recruiting users.
Pro Tip: We’ve heard they have a problem with “professional testers” who are so used to testing for $ that they’re zipping through your tests and leaving bad data behind. If you’re trialing UserTesting.com—watch out for this!
If you’re looking for a tool that manages multiple processes in one place, UserTesting.com may be for you, just bring a big check book.
UserTesting pricing is based on factors like the number of users who need access to the product, business needs and the specific features you want to include. Like UserZoom, they offer custom pricing plans based on your requirements. To understand the price of each plan, you will need to contact their sales team.
These tools are great for 1-on-1 moderated research methods, such as user interviews and usability tests, without a huge price tag. In all likelihood, your company has access to one of them already, or you can get your hands on one for free.
People with a Google Account can use Google Meet and invite up to 100 participants for 60 minutes for free (although your focus groups probably won’t get that large!). Purchasing a business or enterprise plan lets you avail additional paid features like live streaming, recording and administrative control.
Google Meet is a favorite for many reasons—it is often already part of your company plan or is free for access and it doesn’t require participants to download additional software to join a meeting.
On the flip side, the quality of video and audio is okay at best, so depending on how tech savvy your audience is you may want to switch to Zoom. You also need to be on the paid plan to record calls directly on GMeet.
Google Meet has the following pricing plans, ranging from the free plan to higher-end business editions. If your company has purchased a Google Suite plan, one of the below GMeet options may come with it.
Zoom is a video conferencing app that you can repurpose for focus groups, moderated user interviews and usability tests. Although it's not a built only for researchers, we think it's one of the most useful options across this list of UX research tools.
Zoom has high-quality audio and video streams (yay!), which makes it a popular choice for research sessions.
But it does have some really strange UX, so if you’re new to it expect it to take a few days to get settled in.
Pro-tip: you can record sessions to your computer even on the free plan (unlike with GMeet), but free sessions will get cut off after 40 minutes so you may want to upgrade anyway.
Zoom's basic plan is free, but it caps calls at 40 minutes, which can be very awkward if your interview runs anywhere over 30 minutes. No one likes to get kicked off the call mid-interview.
Their basic paid plan comes for $150 / year which doesn't break the bank and does give you high quality conferencing capabilities and the ability to record your calls.
To get high quality recordings, transcripts, and AI-powered notes for Zoom based user interviews, you can also use a tool like Looppanel which plugs into Zoom and makes research analysis 5x faster.
Unmoderated research tools are a category of UX research tools that do not require you to intervene during the actual research session. They provide instructions to users, record their actions, and should ideally be able to ask them predetermined follow-up questions.
This type of research takes less time as participants do not have to be physically present, so you can provide questions to a large number of participants at the same time to complete the test.
Let’s explore the best unmoderated research tools out there.
Maze allows you to run unmoderated research on your new product or prototype. It supports tests like unmoderated usability tests, website testing, prototype testing, tree testing, surveys, and card sorting.
Maze is pretty easy to set up and get started with. It also integrates with major prototyping tools like Figma, AdobeXD, and Invision—so you can bring your prototypes into Maze with ease.
One issue we have personally faced—Maze limits the number of prototype links you can test in a project to 1, which limits our ability to test alternatives against each other easily.
Bonus: Maze automatically creates a shareable report from your unmoderated tests which is super handy to share directly with your team, without spending a ton of time creating it.
Apart from paid features, Maze offers free features that can be used to run tests on a small scale or on the product and see if it meets your requirements.
Useberry is an unmoderated research platform that allows you to run tests across a variety of methods.
An amazing feature of Useberry is the integration of tools like Protopie, Adobe XD, Sketch, Marvel and InVision (other than a Figma integration, of course). This allows you to test more complex, realistic prototypes with your users, aside from basic Figma prototypes.
UseBerry also offers a wide range of testing methods, you can use your favourite testing methods from the following list:
We have personally adopted UseBerry for unmoderated tests at Looppanel and we find it easy to use and effective. One challenge we have had is around recruiting: you can't get very granular with who you'd like to conduct your tests and based on the results, we've sometimes been suspicious of the quality of their panel.
You can get started for free (woohoo!). The basic priced plan after that comes for ~$70.
Once you’ve collected data from a user study, a research repository can be used to organize and analyze it. These UX research tools are hub to store and organise data that you and your team can use for the product improvement process.
Looppanel is a research analysis & repository product that records your user interviews and generates transcripts and AI-powered notes in minutes. On top of that, we auto-create affinity maps and excel-like views where you can analyze your user interviews with ease.
Not to brag, but we've had customers tell us Looppanel saved them 10 days analyzing user interviews!
Bit biased to review your own product, I suppose?
But here's the gist of it: if you care about speed to insight and want to leverage everything AI can do for you, Looppanel is the tool for you.
Looppanel has pricing plans to meet all budgets. If you're starting out with a small team, you can get going for as little as $30 / month.
If you’d like to try it for free, sign up here!
Dovetail is a popular web-based platform that lets you organize research data, generate and tag transcripts, and collaborate with team members. It is built on the academic approach of qualitative data analysis.
Dovetail takes a very academic, time-consuming approach to research involving complex tagging taxonomies and manual analysis of transcripts. If you're expected to run project in a matter of weeks (or if you don't love re-reading transcripts), it can slow you down significantly.
However they do support multiple types of data if you're looking to store user interviews, excel sheets, and docs in one place.
The budget plans mentioned below are the starting price of each category and correspond to the minimum number of users. Increasing the number of users increases the price of each category as well.
This research repository tool enables UX researchers to store and organize data. With the EnjoyHQ tool, you can do unlimited transcriptions, upload files of all sizes and formats with no limit, get metrics insights from your team while using the research repository, and collaborate with multiple teams.
We are yet to find someone who truly loves EnjoyHQ. Almost no one we've spoken to actually uses it for analysis. Instead, teams seem to analyze in Miro or excel and use Enjoy purely as a repository.
It's not bad for storage, but it will require manual tagging to make data discoverable, which is additional work to add to your plate. It's also quite pricey if you don't use it for analysis.
One good thing though: Enjoy has a ton of integrations—UserTesting, UserZoom, Slack, email and more.
EnjoyHQ's starter plan is free, which is great! But as soon as you need to scale you have to speak to their sales team to get a quote (we all know that means $$$$).
Google Sheets is the default data analysis and storage platform for organizations around the world. In addition to systematically organizing your data, you can add graphs, use formulas, filter out irrelevant data etc.
One of the OG default tools—if all else fails, you’ve got Sheets (or Excel if you’re still there for some reason) .
We love excel sheets. Really, truly.
However, they aren't built for user research so they come with some drawbacks:
Google Sheets has three budget plans; basic, standard and apps for business. Most likely, your team also has Google Sheets or Excel access through your company, but if not, use the following table to find what works for you.
FigJam lets you create and organise ideas on a canvas in sticky notes. In addition, you get to leverage a range of templates, widgets and plugins as well as their integrations with Jira, Github and Asana to streamline your research analysis workflow.
Sticky notes are beautiful. So pretty. So easy to visualize.
But much like excel, whiteboards like FigJam weren't built for User Research. And much like excel, you'll run into some recurring challenges with FigJam boards:
FigJam has the following pricing plan.
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