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22 Cheap or Free Web Usability Tools, Part 1: An Introduction

by Craig Tomlin  |  
October 20, 2009

You can increase your website's conversion rates and improve your sales by conducting usability testing to find and fix the places where your customers are abandoning your site.

By incorporating usability testing before, during, or after development, you can achieve incredible gains.

For example, usability guru Jared Spool, a founder of User Interface Engineering, has documented a case where usability tests and changes to a button increased a site's annual revenue by $300 million.

He calls it the $300 Million Button.

Two Forms of Usability Testing

There are two general types of usability testing:

  1. Expert reviews—A trained professional in human-and-computer interaction reviews a website or application based on existing user-experience best-practices but takes into consideration variations required to meet specific user needs or business requirements.
  2. Performance testing—Actual users, or people who match typical website users, are tested in a carefully developed series of tasks on a website. The session is one-on-one: A moderator provides the test instructions while the participant tries to accomplish the tasks. The participant is recorded (via audio, video, and screen interaction), and task failure points are documented and analyzed.

Both types of testing deliver an analysis of where the task-flow errors are occurring; an evaluation of the severity of each error; and a set of recommendations for ways to eliminate the error, thus increasing task-flow completion.

Today's Cheap or Free Usability Testing Tools

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Craig Tomlin is a freelance usability consultant and one of only 2,000 Certified Usability Analysts in the world. He blogs about usability at and was named one of the Top 10 must-follow usability experts by Mashable. Reach him via or Twitter (

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  • by Joe M Tue Oct 20, 2009 via web

    Are there missing pages? I only see 6 items out of 22. Good start though.

    Joe M (JoeMello on Twitter)

  • by Valerie Touchstone Tue Oct 20, 2009 via web

    I'm only seeing six as well...would like to see the rest!

  • by Dave Lum Tue Oct 20, 2009 via web

    The title says "Part 1", but the "of ?? parts" is missing. First six are indeed good.

  • by Elizabeth Ball Tue Oct 20, 2009 via web

    Actually he did specify only 6 out of 22 in this article:

    "In this article, I will discuss six of 22 cheap or free usability testing tools (in alphabetical order)."

    These are excellent tools!

  • by Bret Clement Wed Oct 21, 2009 via web

    This was a good start. Look forward to rest of article! For what it is worth, here is another article that reviews online testing tools. Website Magazine: (full disclosure, I am affiliated with, but this article covers a few of the tools).

  • by Roberta Fri Oct 23, 2009 via web

    Interesting and informative topic. I look forward to the rest of the articles.

  • by Jon Thu Oct 29, 2009 via web

    I tried ClickTrack and would NOT recommend it. It was easy enough to setup and you do get 100 free page view recordings per week, but what they don't tell you is that you'll only be able to view the first 2 pages of each session unless you upgrade to a paid subscription.

    Limiting services on free accounts is one thing, but not revealing a significant limitation up front is unacceptable.

  • by Jon Thu Oct 29, 2009 via web

    sorry, too many names out there....

    ClickTale... I WOULD NOT recommend ClickTale

  • by Steve Sims Tue Mar 23, 2010 via web

    This series of articles is very interesting - And something I'm looking into, a nother one for the shortlist is Userfly -

  • by Des Wed Sep 15, 2010 via web

    Very interesting! In Latam, there is this new site providing a really good value-for-money service! Check it out!!

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