The following is a list of software resources and web apps which can be used for various types of remote research, both moderated and unmoderated/automated.
- UserVue by TechSmith. This is our trusty stand-by for moderated one-on-one interviews. Enables you to view a participant’s screen in real-time while talking to them on the phone. Any number of observers can join in to watch the session as it happens. The service has integrated calling and chat, and at the end of a session, the calling and screen recording are automatically synced and rendered to a video file (either WMV or Morae’s proprietary RDG video format). You can buy either month-long or year-long licenses.
- LiveLook. A browser-based screensharing service. We like this tool because it’s pretty cheap (they charge using prepaid minutes), no download is required, and it runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux–as long as you’ve got Java, it’ll work. It’s also very lightweight, so if you’re testing on a slow connection, this is one of your best bets. Drawbacks: no recording, no audio, and you have to give your users the account login to let them share their screen, which means that you’ll have to switch the password fairly often if you want to keep the account secure.
- VULab by York University. An open-source remote usability tool which, like UserVue, allows you to record video and audio on your participants’ computers as they perform tasks. They said that they’d be releasing it earlier this year, but we’re still waiting on it, so yeah.
- Skype 2.8 for Mac OS X. A new free feature of the popular internet communication client. Screenshare and video chat integrated; relatively cheap international calling, free domestic calls. Requires all participants, observers, researchers to have the Skype client installed.
Unmoderated / Automated Tools
- UZ Self-Serve Edition by UserZoom. UserZoom is an international user experience research company specializing in remote testing, and they’ve now made their remote research tools available for do-it-yourself studies. It’s a completely web-based tool that allows you to manage multiple UX projects, gather clickstream data, prompt users to perform website tasks, card sorts, surveys, and recruit users from either a panel or from your own website. They also offer full-service UX testing.
- WebEffective by Keynote. Another web-based tool for conducting in-depth customer experience, branding and market research studies. Users answer survey questions and complete tasks in pop-up windows, with no download required. Keynote employs a big panel of web users (the “Keynote Research Panel”) to provide quantitative clickstream and behavioral data, survey feedback, structured task completion data. You can also intercept users from your own website.
- m-pathy Tracks mouse-movements and clicks without installing anything on the user’s computer. It’s in German, so you might need to go here to figure out what the heck their website is saying.
- RelevantView Provides card sort, surveys and questionnaires with branching logic, clickstreams, and more. Comes in self-, partial-, and full-service flavors; full-service gets you complete study management, from designing the survey to recruiting panels of users to fulfilling incentives to analyzing data. Probably really expensive.
- ChalkMark by OptimalWorkshop. A brand-new service that allows users to complete tasks on static images, providing “heat map” feedback similar to ClickTale’s. It takes a “keep it simple” approach by limiting each task to a single click on a single image, so it’s best for relatively simple testing.
- SMT (Simple Mouse Tracking) by Luis Leiva. An open-source project, providing mouse-tracking functionality similar to that of VULabs.
- ClickHeat by LabsMedia. Another open source project, providing heatmap functionality similar to that of VULabs and ClickTale.
- Userfocus. Browser-based service with no download or install required. Uses a panel of paid researchers.