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
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.

Silverback

Morae
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.

Morae

Userfly
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.

Userfly

UserTesting.com
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.

UserTesting.com

Crazy Egg
Crazy is more than just an analytics program. It provides visuals that help you to understand and improve how users interact with the site.

Crazy Egg

ClickTale
ClickTale provides web analytics and more. It includes heatmaps, videos of browsing sessions, link analytics, and more.

ClickTale

Loop11
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.

Loop11

Chalkmark
Chalkmark provides first impression testing, showing you where users are clicking. Prices range from $109 for 30 days to $1350 for 365 days.

Chalkmark

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.

UsabilityTest.com
You can join the UsabilityTest.com community to get free usability reviews or to provide feedback to other users.

UsabilityTest.com

WebsiteOptimization.com
This free tool will test your page load time and provide a report with results.

WebsiteOptimization.com

Dead-Links.com
A free tool that will help you to identify dead links on your site.

Dead-Links.com

LinkChecker Firefox Add On
Use this Firefox extension to easily and quickly test the links on any page.

LinkChecker Firefox Add On

ClickHeat
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.

ClickHeat

Five Second Test
Test the first impressions of your visitors to improve your site’s layout.

Five Second Test

Colour Contrast Check
This resource from Jonathan Snook will help to avoid problems with color contrast in web design.

Colour Contrast Check

Luminosity Colour Contrast Ratio Analyzer
This free tool calculates a contrast ratio to see if it is sufficient.

Luminosity Colour Contrast Ratio Analyzer

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 Visualiser

Colour Contrast Analyzer Firefox Extension
This color analyzer will test the background and text color combinations found in a stylesheet for proper contrast.

Colour Contrast Analyzer Firefox Extension

GrayBit
GrayBit shows you a grayscale version of any website to help test contrast.

GrayBit

Usability-Focused Websites and Blogs

If you’re interested in getting more content on usability, these are some good sites to follow.

Usability Checklists

Checklists can be helpful for making sure that your sites are usable. There are a number of good checklists, some more detailed than others.

Helpful Articles on Usability

For more reading on usability, check out these articles from various writers and designers.

For more design resources please see:

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Stephen Snell is the owner and editor of Vandelay Design. Connect with Stephen on google+
  1. December 22, 2009

    Great resource for me…especially free resource to test and improve usability, thanks

  2. December 22, 2009

    Great and they’re well down!

  3. December 22, 2009

    Interesting and consolidated info. I appreciate the efforts.

  4. December 22, 2009

    Cool resources. I’m just now really trying to learn more about usability, I’m definitely referring to this post for my studies. Thanks Steven.

  5. December 22, 2009

    Really nice resources….

  6. Steven
    December 22, 2009

    Great resource! Just joined the free version if clicktale. cant wait to see all the results, heatmaps and videos. cheers for this!

  7. December 22, 2009

    Great! Will have fun piling through this lot. Nice resource. Well done.

    Nikki Rae

  8. December 22, 2009

    Thanks Steven for including my post on your list. You’ve listed some new sites I haven’t seen. Great job.

  9. December 22, 2009

    What a fantastic list! Just discovered fivesecondtest.com yesterday and loved it. Thanks for sharing!

  10. December 22, 2009

    Great Post..

    All the apps are must have for guys like us..

    Thanks..

  11. December 22, 2009

    Very helpful. Thanks for sharing..

  12. December 23, 2009

    Thanks for sharing – I need to consider this stuff more when building websites.

    Eoin

  13. December 23, 2009

    an amazing collection… thanks for sharing!

  14. December 24, 2009

    Good to know. I am definately bookmarking this page.

  15. December 25, 2009

    Good resources, thanks!

  16. December 26, 2009

    Great Collection, I’ll sure as hell visit some of these sites and use them to improve my new blog!

  17. December 27, 2009

    Great list of resources.
    Thanks

  18. girish
    December 31, 2009

    really good resource

  19. January 5, 2010

    You might also want to check out Open Web Analytics (http://www.openwebanalytics.com) which is an open source web analytics framework that provides great tools for usability testing including mouse recording (like Userfly) plus heatmaps.

  20. January 13, 2010

    wow thanks for an incredibly useful list. I have already checked out some of them and will use them.

  21. May 29, 2010

    That’s a great list!
    I love the chalkmark idea, I’d never think about that, but it’s a great way to test new websites for usability, I hope they will do a bulk deal 🙂

  22. June 4, 2010

    I would like to contribute on this post by adding that web standards are greatly important. See what is currently taking place between HTML5 and Apple.

  23. June 30, 2010

    What about prototyping tools? IMHO the best way to assure your web is going to be usable. The best tool for me to do that is Justinmind Prototyper (http://www.justinmind.com) that also generates HTML

  24. July 13, 2010

    This is a great list which I shall be bookmarking immediately, as usability is such a vital aspect of all web design. A book I recommend too which I have recently come across is “The Web Designers Idea Book”; worth a read!

  25. Usability is the one area i need to sharpen up on as I look to constantly develop this aspect of the Hurrah website. this shall also be a key area to work on in the design of the next Hurrah website.

  26. August 4, 2010

    worth a read

  27. October 13, 2010

    Can anyone recommend any videos on usability, I am trying to gather resources for a introduction to Usability course.

  28. January 5, 2011

    Great list, I’ll add a few of these to the resources we already have. Thanks for putting this together. I particularly like Click Heat!

  29. March 30, 2011

    Thanks for the list….

    Vanessa,
    Best SEO Software – Guaranteed Top 10 Google Rankings

  30. April 13, 2011

    Wow. Awesome. You rock. This rocks. I am divorcing my husband to run away with this post. Seriously.

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