User testing is crucial when you want to get the user experience right, simply because you don’t know how the users will really interact. If you don’t test, you will most likely have some flaws in the design. Normally you spot these flaws later with some analytic tools like KissMetrics or Google Analytics, but until then you have already lost potential customers.
In the last years a large number of prototyping tools has emerged.
These tools allow you to create interactive prototypes in short time without any coding. You can hand the prototypes over to your stakeholders so they can try out your design and give feedback. Well known examples are for instance InvisionApp.com, MarvelApp.com or Proto.io. However, when it comes to testing, these tool leave you alone with nothing more than a bunch of screen recordings. If you test only with 1–3 persons that is ok, but if you want to test a larger audience, reviewing the screen recordings is a real burden.
That’s why I was very excited to see that in the last months three startups have popped up, that address this problem and provide analytic capabilities for your prototypes. The contenders are CanvasFlip.com, Quant-UX.com and Konceptapp.com. The workflow of all tools follows basically the human centered design process. First you design your prototype and then you run the tests with your audience. Finally, you can use their analytic tools to understand how the tests have interacted with your design. This makes it easy to see if the users understood your design or not.
In the next section I will research each of the tools in more detail, in particular the prototyping and analytic functionality. The testing part is pretty similar in all tools. You publish your prototype and share a link with your testers. While the try out the prototype all interaction is recorded. All tools create screen recordings for you. The cool thing is that the testers don’t have to install any browser plugin or dedicated app. The screen recordings just works out of the box, but you won’t get a recording of the user’s face nor can you hear his comments.
CanvasFlip is pretty similar to InVision and MarvelApp and focuses in click dummies. You design in your tool of choice, export the design to .png files and upload them to their platform. Unfortunately there is no direct support for Sketch or Photoshop, you always have to export your design as bitmaps. Once uploaded, you link the images and define the trigger events and animations to create a testable prototype. You can use layers to create modal dialogs, popups and so on. CanvasFlip ships with three analytic tools. The first is the video player for the screen recordings, which also shows you correct or wrong clicks. The second tool are heatmaps, which summarize the user interaction and the third tool is a funnel graph, which visualizes the conversion funnel. There is also a Dashboard, which summarizes the test data. You can for instance see how much the users clicked and how long they tested the prototype.
CanvasFlip comes with a free plan which includes 5 prototypes. For 25 $ you can create a pro account.
Quant-UX is more similar to tools like Proto.io or Axure and allows the creation of functional prototypes. This means your prototypes really work, for instance the users can enter data in input fields or select data from drop downs. The tool comes with it’s own visual editor and you build your prototypes by positioning widgets on the canvas. The editor is quite powerful and has many advanced features like master screens, form validation or logic flows. If you prefer to stick to your graphics tool of choice that’s no problem. Quant-UX supports the common bitmap formats and also PhotoShop and Sketch (The Sketch support seems to be a little bit more advanced, as all layers are preserved). To model the interaction flow you link the screens. Animations and layers can be used as well, for instance to create modal dialogs etc.
Quant-UX has seven analytic tools in addition to the screen recordings. Their video player has a nice gimmick, it also shows the interaction events on the right side, so you can jump directly to the interesting point in time. The main analytic tools are click heatmaps, and user journey graphs, which model the customer journey in more detail. A unique features are the scroll heatmaps and visibility heatmaps, that show how much time the user have spend above and below the fold. Quant-UX also supports task / conversion analysis. You can record a task, and the tool calculates the success rate and time. There is also a dashboard, which summarizes the test data. Currently Quant-UX is still in beta so it is free of charge.
KonceptApp is like CanvasFlip dedicated to the creation of click dummies. You basically upload and link images. Koncept app supports layers, animations and so on, and even allows you to create scrollable elements within a page. Once you have started the tests, you can view the screen recordings, or change to a heatmap view. Like Quant-UX there is also task / conversion support which is visualized in their dashboard. KonceptApp comes with two planes. The cheapest starts at 30$, but does not include the analytics. You have to pay another 100$ on top to use the analytic tools. For agencies there is some discount.
From my point of view the analytic functionality makes user testing much easier. I consider all tools very useful and I am excited to see how they will evolve. CanvasFlip is the least powerful tool, but if you are just interested in creating click dummies the tool is a good choice and perfect alternative for tools like InVision and so on. KonceptApp is very similar. It’s easy to create nice click dummies and they offer also tasks analysis. The main drawback of KonceptApp is the hefty price tag. Quant-UX is by far the most powerful tool. It allows you to create more realistic prototypes and ships with the most advanced analytic tools. However, to unlock all benefits some learning is required.