We all know how important is creating a usable website in order to be successful. Usability has become, in some way or another, a way of life for most designers. There are many rules to follow when creating a website, regarding layout, text, images, etc., but there are also great tools to help you out create your own usability lab.
Taskee – Website task management
A FANTASTIC free tool for testing your website is Taskee. After you have completed your design, you need to find any possible bugs on your pages. This is a very important and time consuming process. It is not easy to spot each and every bug by using one or two people only (especially if your site is too big).
This tool allows your team of testers (or clients) to track any bugs and notify you.
You have probably heard of the eye tracking stimulators. StomperNet, has created something similar. It is a browser that tracks the mouse and forces the eye to look at the location of the mouse. This way it provides you with the visual data when looking at the specific location. Now, get a new pair of eyes for creating a usable website, for free. You only need to register your email and you will immediately get a download link to install this great browser on your pc. If you don’t have your own usability lab, then this is a great way to start one..
CrazyEgg – Visualize your visitors
This one has to be one of the best usability applications online. I have listed it here because it does provide you with a free account that is limited up to 5000 visitors. It is basically an analytics account that provides you with a heatmap of most clicked areas.
ClickHeat by LabsMedia
Another Great Resource, is a clicks’ heatmap developed by LabsMedia. It shows the hot and cold areas based on the clicks of specific html links on your site. You can download the installation file on Sourceforge.net, and there’s also a nice demo to show you what you will see on your website if you decide to try it.
For older versions of Firefox (1.5) there’s an experimental plugin called User Rec, and has been developed by George Murray. It is supposed to record mouse gestures while testing a website. Haven’t had the chance to experience it yet.
OptimalSort – online and easy card sorting
A very important part of usability is the organization of your content. Card sorting is a common method for completing such tasks. Optimal sort, although a paid service, it does provide a free account for up to 30 cards and 10 users (which is not bad for small websites).
DejaClick by AlertSite
Put your users to the test using this firefox extension by AlertSite. Monitor their steps while on a website and avoid any problems that might be caused on the end-users later on.
- The Web Static Analyzer Tool, that check the code against usability guidelines
- The Web Category Analysis Tool that helps conduct a category analysis according to what items go where.
- The Web Variable Instrumenter Program (WebVIP) to capture user behaviour on your site
- The framework for Logging Usability Data (FLUD), provides valuable date of user behaviour for optimizing your website
- The FLUDViz tool that lets you analyze a single usability session.
- The VisVIP tool for analyzing navigation and paths
- The TreeDec tool for adding breadcrumbs and easier navigation
I haven’t had the chance to download and use Web Metrics tools yet, so any feedback is more than welcome.