Chapter 11

Meet the 13 top-rated UX research tools & software for 2022

Building your UX research tool stack is an essential step in establishing an effective research practice. In this chapter, we are rounding up some essential tools that will help you conduct UX research and move the needle in your organization.

What tools do UX researchers use?

UX researchers have access to many different solutions to conduct user experience research and manage different stages of their workflow. For instance, there are tools for conducting usability testing, surveys, interviews, or more specialized tests, such as card sorting or tree testing.

Other common tools make it easier to document research, take notes, and transcribe interviews. Finally, UX researchers can use specific tools to recruit participants, capture remote or in-person sessions, and generate real-time reports to share with the rest of the team.

To give you a better sense of what tools are available for different types of research and stages of the process, we put together a list of research tools that every UX researcher should know about.

UX Research Tool Pricing Features
Maze From $25 per month Integrations with leading design platforms, remote testing, surveys, IA testing, real-time reports, collaboration features, pre-built templates
Loop11 From $63 per month Online usability testing, prototype testing, benchmarking, A/B testing, IA testing
Userlytics From $49 per month Usability testing, user experience studies, prototype testing, live conversations, card sorting, tree testing
Lookback From $99 per month Remote user research in real-time, moderated and unmoderated testing, collaborative dashboard, live note-taking
Userzoom Available upon request Usability testing, interviews, surveys, intercept testing, click testing, tree testing, card sorting, participant recruiting
dscout Available upon request Unmoderated research, remote user interviews, participant recruiting, automatic transcriptions, on-call observers, interactive timeline for taking notes
User Interviews From $40 per session or $250 per month Participant recruitment, screener surveys, scheduling interviews, messaging participants, automatic incentives, participation tracking
Ethnio From $79 per month Participant recruitment, central participant database, incentives, screeners, intercepts, scheduling options
Ribbon From $79 per month Participant recruitment, screeners, automatic interview scheduling, incentive management, moderated interviews
Optimal Workshop From $99 per month Card sorting, tree testing, first-click testing, IA testing, online surveys, qualitative research, participant recruitment
UsabilityHub From $79 per month Remote user testing, first-click testing, design surveys, preference tests, five-second tests, participant recruitment
kardSort Free Moderated, unmoderated and hybrid card sorting, pre and post-study interviews, tool tips
Hotjar From $39 per month Heatmaps, screen recordings, unmoderated research, in-product feedback widgets and follow-up surveys

Tools for usability testing

UX research tools do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to user research. From recruiting participants and planning the interviews to getting feedback, and sharing your findings, having a great tool stack is important for running a great research practice.

Selecting the right UX research toolkit depends on where you are in the research process, the research method you’ll be using, the size of your organization, and the type of product you’re researching. Ready to get hands-on with research? Here are some tools to consider.

1. Maze

Maze is a continuous product discovery platform that empowers product teams to collect and consume user insights, continuously. With solutions for participant recruitment, product research, and reporting, Maze helps teams build the habit of continuous product discovery in a platform that enables everyone to run great research.

Maze integrates directly with Adobe XD, Figma, InVision, Marvel, and Sketch, and allows you to import an existing prototype from the design tool you use.

You can create and run in-depth usability tests at any stage of your research plan, to get actionable insights in minutes. Its usability testing solution includes task analysis, multiple path analysis, heatmaps, A/B testing, guerrilla testing, and more.

Maze allows you to run surveys and collect user feedback early in the design process, and also enables you to test your information architecture with features such as Card Sorts and Tree Tests.

Maze's reporting functionality automatically records and documents completion rates, misclick rates, time spent, click heatmaps, and more. Maze also generates a usability test report instantly for each test, that you can share with anyone with a link.

Key features: Integrations with leading design platforms, remote testing, surveys, IA testing, real-time reports, question repository, collaboration features, pre-built templates
Pricing: Free for one project, then from $25 per month

Get contextual UX research insights at scale

Validate ideas, test prototypes, assess usability, and deliver real, actionable insights to your product team.

2. Loop11

Loop11 helps you conduct moderated and unmoderated usability testing on live websites, prototypes, and competitors’ websites, among others. With Loop11, you can start testing at the wireframing and prototyping stage to ensure your designs are headed in the right direction.

Beyond usability testing, Loop11 can help user researchers conduct competitive benchmarking, A/B testing, and IA testing.

Key features: Online usability testing, prototype testing, benchmarking, A/B testing, IA testing
Pricing: From $63 per month

3. Userlytics

Userlytics is a user testing platform that helps you conduct research at scale by testing digital assets like websites, applications, mobile apps, prototypes, etc. You can collect both qualitative and quantitative data and set up advanced metrics and graphical reports.

With Userlytics, you can run any combination of moderated or unmoderated user experience studies, usability tests, card sorting, and tree testing using a diversity of features.

Key features: Usability testing, user experience studies, prototype testing, live conversations, card sorting, tree testing
Pricing: From $49 per month

Tools for user interviews

4. Lookback

Lookback is a comprehensive UX research tool that offers you the ability to do live user interviews contextualized through a live recording of the user’s screen. Lookback helps you conduct moderated, unmoderated, and remote research and includes a collaborative dashboard that lets you sync all your research and customer feedback and share it with your team.

Lookback sessions are recorded automatically, so you can rewatch them at your convenience and create highlight clips to share with colleagues and stakeholders. Among other things, the team plan allows you to do remote or in-person research, test with prototypes and invite observers to see in real-time.

Key features: Remote user research in real-time, moderated and unmoderated testing, collaborative dashboard, live note-taking
Pricing: From $99 per month

5. Userzoom

Userzoom is a UX research platform for remote usability testing and includes features such as participant recruiting, heatmap and analytics recording, etc. You can use it to collect quantitative or qualitative feedback and create A/B tests with mock-ups to get feedback from users before product development.

With Userzoom, you can run unmoderated task-based studies with test participants from all around the world on a website, prototype, wireframe, or mock-up.

Key features: Usability testing, interviews, surveys, intercept testing, click testing, tree testing, card sorting, participant recruiting
Pricing: Available upon request

6. dscout

dscout is a remote qualitative research platform that helps you collect in-context insights from the people who use your products. One component of the platform is dscout Live, which lets you run remote user interviews and collect feedback from participants. You can also use dscout Diary to see people’s everyday product experience as it happens either on video or in photos. And with dscout Recruit, you can recruit research participants without the hassle and cost associated with traditional recruiting.

dscout is also helpful because it streamlines the most time-consuming parts of interviews with research-centric features such as participant scheduling, automatic transcriptions, on-call observers, and an interactive timeline for taking notes and clips.

Key features: Unmoderated research, remote user interviews, participant recruiting, automatic transcriptions, on-call observers, interactive timeline for taking notes
Pricing: Available upon request

Tools for recruiting participants

7. User Interviews

User Interviews is a well-known platform that helps you make better product decisions with seamless access to quality participants. The platform is known for allowing you to build your own pool of participants or access their panel of over 350,000 vetted research participants who can be filtered by profession.

User Interviews offers features like screener surveys, scheduling interviews, and participation tracking for your existing users. The median turnaround time is 2 hours, though it can vary based on the project.

Key features: Participant recruitment, screener surveys, scheduling interviews, messaging participants, automatic incentives, participation tracking
Pricing: From $40 per session or $250 per month

8. Ethnio

Another tool for selecting participants is Ethnio, which enables you to create screeners for intercepting people on your website or app so that you can find the right participants for user research. Ethnio provides various filters for screeners and automated scheduling options that help streamline the process of getting in touch with users.

Within the platform, Ethnio also includes a tool called Research Incentives, a calculator that helps you reward your participants by instantly paying them using different online services.

Key features: Participant recruitment, central participant database, incentives, screeners, intercepts, scheduling options
Pricing: From $79 per month

9. Ribbon

Ribbon is an all-in-one participant recruitment and screening tool that allows you to find users, screen them, and automatically schedule user interviews.

If you’re looking for a simple does-what-it-says recruitment tool, then Ribbon’s a great choice. They’re also currently working on features including interview transcripts and participant incentives.

Key features: Participant recruitment, screeners, automatic interview scheduling, incentive management, moderated interviews
Pricing: From $79 per month

Notable mentions: Specialized testing tools

10. Optimal Workshop

Optimal Workshop offers a suite of testing tools to help you conduct information architecture (IA) tests. For card sorting, you can use their OptimalSort tool to understand how people think your content should be organized and categorized.

Another component of Optimal Work is Treejack, which helps you conduct unmoderated tree tests to identify if users are currently getting lost on your site and where they expect to find key information.

Key features: Card sorting, tree testing, first-click testing, IA testing, online surveys, qualitative research, participant recruitment
Pricing: From $99 per month

11. UsabilityHub

UsabilityHub is a remote research platform that offers a range of testing tools, including first click testing, design surveys, preference tests, and five-second tests. These tests enable you to collect data and validate design decisions.

With UsabilityHub’s Panel, researchers can recruit test users from a pool of participants based on criteria such as age, gender, education, and more to get feedback from a relevant target audience.

Key features: Remote user testing, first-click testing, design surveys, preference tests, five-second tests, participant recruitment
Pricing: From $79 per month

12. kardSort

kardSort is an online card sorting tool which offer moderated, unmoderated, and hybrid card sorting.

As user-friendly as they come, kardSort operates in a simple drag-and-drop function which makes card sorting easy for researchers and participants alike. Working on all browsers, you can set up and run a card sorting session incredibly quickly, and it’s ideal for asynchronous sessions due to its simplicity and ability to add pre or post-study questions.

Key features: Moderated, unmoderated and hybrid card sorting, pre and post-study interviews, tool tips
Pricing: Free

13. Hotjar

The last mention on our list is Hotjar, a remote research tool which allows you to view real-time user behavior via heatmaps and screen recordings.

With a huge amount of data available, plus in-app surveys, Hotjar is a great solution if you’re looking to focus on heatmapping as a research method and want to really understand the nuance of user behavior.

Key features: Heatmaps, screen recordings, unmoderated research, in-product feedback widgets and follow-up surveys
Pricing: Free for 35 sessions, then from $39 per month

Other research tools

From analytics tools to note-taking, the research tool market is quite comprehensive, so here are a few more tools that can help you maximize research within your organization.

  • For surveys: SurveyMonkey, Typeform, Usabilla
  • For analytics: Google Analytics, Kissmetrics
  • For documenting research: Dovetail, Notion, Google Docs, Evernote
  • For transcriptions: Otter.ai, Rev, Reduct
  • For remote user testing: Zoom, Google Meet/Hangouts

Also, see our list of usability testing tools.

Accelerate and scale your UX research

Validate ideas, test prototypes, assess usability, and deliver real, actionable insights to your product team.

Frequently asked questions about UX research tools

What tools do UX researchers use?

Some common tools that UX researchers use include tools for usability testing, user interviews, surveys, card sorting, tree testing, and first-click testing. A UX research tool stack may also include solutions for recruiting participants, documenting research, and transcribing interviews. Other examples are analytics and heat-mapping tools and remote user testing tools.

What is user experience (UX) design?

User experience design is the process designers use to build products that provide great experiences to their users. UX design refers to feelings and emotions users experience when interacting with a product. It focuses on the user flow and how easy it is for the user to accomplish their desired goals.

What is a UX research tool?

A UX research tool is a piece of software, tool, or app that enables UX researchers to maximise their research effectiveness and gather insights. Popular research tools include survey, recruitment, and interview software.