6 of the Best Free Usability Optimisation Tools

When building a website, it’s worth investing in usability, as no site is going to work perfectly from the outset.

Five of our favourite usability optimisation tools include:

  • Attention Wizard
  • ClickTale
  • Loop 11
  • Siverback
  • 4Q
  • Userfly

Attention Wizard

Eye tracking simulation for web page designs

Why we like it

Attention Wizard works by analysing static images, simulating where a users attention would probably go, rather than by recording real people as they use your website.

Because it works by analysing static image files (jpeg or png) you can use it at the design stage – before you’ve built the website – improving your changes of getting off to a good start.

It can also be used on screenshots of live sites too, another nifty trick, as there’s no need to install any tracking codes, meaning that you can start analysing websites right away, before there’s been time to set up anything else.
So, for speed and simplicity (of use, if not interpretation) it wins hands down.

How it works

By analysing thousands of real eye tracking studies Attention Wizard claims to have come up with an algorithm that simulated the attention people give to different elements on the page.

This is combined with models of how our eyes scan a webpage (like the zig zag motion required to read a book or magazine, only less linear) to create eye tracking attention simulations, with around 80% accuracy apparently.

What it costs

Attention Wizard is currently free while in private beta. Our application was accepted within hours, so ask them nicely and you can probaly have a go too.


Website screen recording, heatmaps & form field analytics
Why we like it
ClickTale has been around for a few years and has acquired several new features over that time including assorted attention heatmaps and advanced form analytics.

It’s invisible to a site’s users and allows you far more insight into how people interact with website than can be gleaned from traditional analytics packages.

Screen recording

ClickTale’s screen recording does just that, allowing you to play back videos of your users cursor position and clicks locations as they view your website. Recordings can be sped up to save time and seeing real people getting things wrong can help highlight problems early on, so that you can nip them in the bud.


Depending upon your package there are several types of heatmaps available including “scrolling”, “clicks” and “attention”, which uses cursor hovering to simulate eye tracking.
Unlike screen recordings which are of individual visitors, heatmaps, like form analytics, are aggregated from multiple users in order to identify common trends.

Scrolling Heatmaps

Scrolling heatmaps are the simplest to analyse and are great for spotting which page elements are getting less attention due to their distance below the fold. By detecting when visitors need to scroll, and how much they choose to, you can position page elements according, as well as testing the effects of on screen prompts such as links reading “scroll down to view more”.

Click & Attention heatmaps

Click heatmaps record where your users are clicking. In addition to menus, buttons and hyperlinks, users often click elsewhere, including on headings, images and other highlighted text, even tough they may simply be decorative or informative elements that aren’t linked anywhere. Attention heatmaps are similar, but show where people are hovering, but not clicking, an indicator of where user are looking.

Armed with this information, you can redesign your site to make the images look less clickable (e.g. by removing 3d effects), your buttons more enticing and the rest of the page less distracting, all of which can improve your conversion rates.

What is costs

A basic version of ClickTale is available for free, feature packed premium versions start from $99 per month.

Loop 11

Live user test cases for your website, with no code installation required.

Why we like it

Loop 11 is entirely web based and requires no code to be inserted into the website meaning that is can quickly be set up to test several websites head-to-head including your own and benchmarking against a couple of competitor’s. You can even run it on sites without permission (e.g. while pitching your services) to convince them that that they really do have a problem.

What it tells you

  • Task completion rate
  • Time per task
  • Most common success page
  • Most common fail page
  • Most common first click
  • Most common navigation path
  • Detailed participant path analysis
  • Number of page views to complete tasks

When you sign up for your free account you’ll see an example of a completed user testing project with reporting in your account.

What it costs

Your first project is free and after that it’s $350 per project, regardless of its size.


“Spontaneous, unobtrusive usability testing software for designers and developers.”

What it does

  • Capture screen activity
  • Video the participant’s reactions (using their webcam)
  • Record the participant’s voice (using their mic)
  • Add chapter markers on the fly
  • Control recording with the remote
  • Export to Quicktime

Why we do (and don’t) like it

It’s the
nearest things to having a full usability lab, without the lab.

10% of all profits from Silverback will be donated to saving the gorillas.

The downside is that it only runs on
Mac OSX Tiger and Leopard with a built-in iSight or similar alternative. What the world really needs is a PC version, pronto!
What is costs

Silverback is free for 30 days and then costs $49.85

Website: http://silverbackapp.com/


Why we like it

The 4Q Online Survey is a free online survey solution that allows you to find out why visitors are at your website, and whether or not they are completing their tasks (and if they aren’t, what’s getting in the way?).

The 4Q online survey provides answers to the following 4 essential questions:

• What are my visitors at my website to do?
Are they completing what they set out to do?
If not, why not?
• How satisfied are my visitors?

Thousands of companies are already gaining tremendous insight into the customer experience on their website. You too can measure purpose of visit and task completion (and of course, satisfaction).

And best of all…the 4Q online survey is completely free!

Website: http://www.4qsurvey.com/


It often helps to view a website from several different perspectives in order to find out everything about what works and what doesn’t, why, and how to fix it.

Good usability is a core component of website conversion optimisation, a topic that we’ll cover in our next post. After all, creating a site that’s easy to use is a great start, but what you really want is “profitable” not just “usable” and for that you need to integrate marketing too.

Have we missed one out? Plug it in the comments below and we might include it as well.

Update: For ClickTale like screen recording at a lower cost (and with fewer bells and whistles) check out too.

6 of the Best Free Usability Optimisation Tools was last modified: May 6th, 2016 by Anthony
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