35+ Usability Resources for Web Designers
Usability should be a priority for every website. Without usability, even the most beautiful design will be ineffective. In this post we’ll feature a number of resources, tools, software, checklists, articles, and more, that can help you to design and develop highly usable websites.
Premium Usability Resources:
There are a number of tools and resources that have been created to test and improve usability. In this section we’ll look at eight premium resources.
Silverback is usability testing software (for Mac) from Clearleft. It allows you to capture screen activity, video participants, record audio, and more. The price is $49.95, and a free trial is available.
Morae is software that is made up of three separate components: Recorder, Observer, and Manager. With Morae you can test the usability of a website by learning from the experiences and actions of visitors. The full version costs $1,495. A free trial is available.
Userfly allows you to record your visitors to see mouse movements and clicks. There is a free plan that offers 10 captures per month, and premium plans that range from $10 (100 captures) to $200 (10,000 captures) per month.
With UserTesting.com you can quickly (in about 1 hour) and inexpensively ($29) get feedback from a user of your site. You’ll get a video of the user session with spoken comments about the site, plus a written report.
Crazy is more than just an analytics program. It provides visuals that help you to understand and improve how users interact with the site.
ClickTale provides web analytics and more. It includes heatmaps, videos of browsing sessions, link analytics, and more.
Loop11 is an online usability and user experience testing tool, allowing individuals and companies to conduct online, unmoderated user testing on any kind of digital interface. The cost is $350 per testing project, with the first project being free.
Chalkmark provides first impression testing, showing you where users are clicking. Prices range from $109 for 30 days to $1350 for 365 days.
Free Usability Resources:
If premium usability testing resources are not in the budget, or if you are not interested in any of those mentioned above, there are also some excellent free resources.
You can join the UsabilityTest.com community to get free usability reviews or to provide feedback to other users.
This free tool will test your page load time and provide a report with results.
A free tool that will help you to identify dead links on your site.
LinkChecker Firefox Add On
Use this Firefox extension to easily and quickly test the links on any page.
ClickHeat is a visual heatmap of clicks on a HTML page, showing hot and cold click zones. ClickHeat is an OpenSource software, released under GPL licence, and free of charge.
Five Second Test
Test the first impressions of your visitors to improve your site’s layout.
Colour Contrast Check
This resource from Jonathan Snook will help to avoid problems with color contrast in web design.
Luminosity Colour Contrast Ratio Analyzer
This free tool calculates a contrast ratio to see if it is sufficient.
Colour Contrast Visualiser
This tool can save time by helping you to select safe color combinations, rather than trying to test many different combinations to find one that passes.
Colour Contrast Analyzer Firefox Extension
This color analyzer will test the background and text color combinations found in a stylesheet for proper contrast.
GrayBit shows you a grayscale version of any website to help test contrast.
Usability-Focused Websites and Blogs
If you’re interested in getting more content on usability, these are some good sites to follow.
Checklists can be helpful for making sure that your sites are usable. There are a number of good checklists, some more detailed than others.
- 247 Web Usability Guidelines
- 25-Point Website Usability Checklist
- Web Usability Checklist
- Web Site Usability Checklist
- Quick Usability Checklist
- Web Site Design and Usability Checklist
- Usability Guidelines
- The Essential Website Usability Checklist
- The Ultimate Web Design Usability Checklist
Helpful Articles on Usability
For more reading on usability, check out these articles from various writers and designers.
- Usability 101: Introduction to Usability
- Web Usability: The Basics
- 9 Common Usability Mistakes in Web Design
- 10 Usability Tips for Web Designers
- Blasting the Myth of the Fold
- 8 Guidelines for Usability Testing
For more design resources please see:
- 50 High-Quality Free Fonts for Professional Design
- 60 Photoshop Actions for Photo Touch-Ups and Enhancements
- Textures Toolbox: 80+ Texture Resources for Designers
- 25 jQuery Plugins for Navigation
- 10 Helpful Resources for Cross-Browser Testing