This one’s tricky. When it comes to usability testing tools, there are a lot of tools designed for this job, but they largely apply to very specific niches and models of usability testing. Very few globally applicable and workable tools of this type are around, because that’s just not something that’s really practical to implement, due to idiosyncratic differences in even very similar designs, and the usability concerns that these can bring about.
But, there do exist a handful of tools that are overall workable, they just may not be what you expect them to be. One of them is very technical, one of them is immensely basic, and one of them is a revolutionary technology that has changed the face of a billion things, this included.
I’ll save the best for last, but let’s look at what there is for usability testing tools that’re widely applicable.
#1 – CPU-Z
CPU-Z is a cross platform benchmarking and statistics tool primarily. Among its uses are identifying the capacities and hardware types within a given device. If you want to find out what’s under the hood quickly, this thing is very, very helpful for that.
It works for Macs, PCs with Windows and Unix cores, and on mobile devices as well.
Now, the way this is helpful is in first getting parameters for benchmarking, but after this, monitoring drops in performance of the overall system will show how much of a hog the design is being. Usability extends well beyond just direct interaction, also tying into usability of other systems currently in use within the same device.
CPU-Z gives you a barometer on this. Did I mention that CPU-Z is free?
#2 – Balsamiq
Balsamiq is a prototyping tool for designing user interfaces and navigation flows. It’s pretty easy to use and while the stylized “sketchy control images” motif irks me, it’s probably the best mockup tool out there.
As for how this helps with usability testing is in early theory and design. Usability testing starts the moment design of the computer-human interaction layer begins. So, every time you work out an idea, you’ll be testing to some level how strong this idea is.
With Balsamiq, you can set up a tour of a user interface mockup, simulating navigation patterns and the like as well, to see how convenient the design is in theory.
You probably know of Balsamiq, but you probably never thought to use it this way.
#3 – WalkMe
This one’s a little different in that it’s very powerful for usability testing. This is a new kind of technology called onboard software. Basically, this is something that could only be a thing in an age of browser software like today.
These systems integrate into web forms, and can control the form elements, monitor user activity, and analyze the states of browsers and the like. Through this, they can train users by guiding them step by step through complex processes, and correct mistakes, and track their progress and proficiency.
Well, this same software would obviously work for spotting how well users can learn and work with a user interface and ideology. It can do it unintrusively, and can fully capture all the vital analytics.
Yeah, some of these usability testing tools are odd suggestions, because so often, it’s a very specific thing when it comes to tools like this. But, these are very helpful in this context, especially WalkMe.