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10 must-know UX research tools

8 min read
Whether you’re sketching wireframes, discovering user needs or stress-testing a user journey with live participants, the right tools can save you time and make sure your UX research is as accurate and useful as possible.

We’ve rounded up some of the best free and paid UX research tools out there to help you explore your options and choose what to add to your UX research toolbox.

1. Qualtrics Strategic Research

What does it do?: Strategic Research is a powerful survey engine that is widely used in UX research as well as market research, academic studies and in business. It’s a single platform where you can design survey flows, run studies and then analyze and present your data.


is a powerful survey engine that is widely used in UX research as well as market research, academic studies and in business. It’s a single platform where you can design survey flows, run studies and then analyze and present your data.

combines power with flexibility, with a wide range of survey flows and question types to choose from. You can download and use our free survey templates covering a wide range of applications, from website suggestion boxes to quick polls and employee engagement surveys.

Price: You can useStrategic Research with a free Qualtrics account, or integrate it with other Qualtrics features as part of a paid plan.

2. Whimsical

What does it do? A visual communication tool for UX professionals. It can be used to map out initial ideas for wireframes and visualize hierarchical structures such as user journey flows or navigation menus. It also offers a mind-mapping tool, a Sticky Notes tool which can be used as a kanban board to organize team tasks, and a space to draft and share documents.

Highlights: it’s easy to learn and use thanks to a drag-and-drop interface, but its real strength lies in its shareability. Whimsical users say it’s easy to collaborate internally or even present early-stage designs and plans to external stakeholders. It’s also very affordable.

Price: Free basic tier. The full produce is $10 per month paid annually or $12 per month if you pay monthly.

3. InVision

What does it do?: InVision takes your wireframe sketches and prototypes one step further by adding functionality and motion, so you can present and test interactive flows rather than just flat designs. It also features tools to help you design from scratch, including mood boards for collecting your ideas on look and feel.

Highlights: It’s highly collaborative and built for a fast, iterative way of working. Users appreciate how easy it is to share and improve their prototypes. The integration list includes Atlassian (JIRA, Confluence and Trello), Slack, Microsoft and Adobe.

Price: Free for up to 10 users, $7.95 per month for up to 15 users, and custom pricing for the Enterprise-level product.

4. UserZoom

What does it do? A long-established UX research platform that rolls many user experience tools into one. It offers card sorting, click testing, surveys, tree testing and live intercepts. Following its acquisition of Validately, it also offers that platform’s tools for interviews, participant recruitment and remote usability testing, both moderated and unmoderated.

Highlights: UserZoom is a powerful platform that offers a lot of capabilities all in one place. It may be best suited to larger companies and experienced UX professionals who can take advantage of its sophistication. Users praise its expert support services and range of features.

Price: UserZoom uses custom pricing for its main product. Subscriptions to UserZoom Go (formerly Validately) start from $500 per year.

5. UserTesting

What does it do?: UserTesting is best known for its remote video-based participant feedback. Using your own participants or UserTesting’s panel, you can conduct interviews or gather self-guided videos of participants using products, then transcribe, share and create highlight reels.

Highlights: The ability to use UserTesting’s own panel is a time-saver for many businesses. There is also a library of templates for self-guided tests that you can use to save time. UserTesting integrates with other popular tools like Slack and Adobe.

Price: Custom pricing. UserTesting offers limited individual plans and more comprehensive enterprise-level plans.

6. Dscout

What does it do?: Dscout helps you carry out online interviews, diary studies and in-the-moment responses from users via their devices – ideal for younger users who are never without their phones. You can tap into a participant panel of ready-recruited ‘scouts’, making it easy to set up and run a study quickly.

Highlights: Aside from the central features of live observation and diary studies, Dscout users appreciate its automated messaging of participants, integration with Slack and generally smooth and easy user experience.

Price: Dscout uses custom pricing arranged via its sales team.

7. Hotjar

What does it do?: Hotjar helps you follow your end-users’ mouse clicks, scrolls and screen taps through heat maps and session recordings. This visual data can be tagged, filtered and shared within your organization and beyond. Hotjar also offers surveys and contextual feedback tools.

Highlights: Hotjar’s a relative old-timer on the UX tool scene, and over the years it’s gotten really good at what it does. Users like how accessible it is, even to those without background knowledge.

Price: Basic plans are free, or you can tier up to a ‘plus’ account at $39 per month. Enterprise pricing is arranged via Hotjar’s sales team.

8. Optimal Sort

What does it do?: Optimal Sort is a card-sorting tool – useful for getting feedback on information structure and navigation hierarchy in your website, content channel or app. Using Optimal Sort, participants can sort topics or items into the lists they think are most logical using a simple drag and drop interface. The tool then helps you make sense of the results with visual representations showing trends and patterns among responses.

Highlights: Optimal Sort is part of Optimal Workshop, a suite of 5 tools including a tree test capability to follow up on your card sorting. It’s praised for its simplicity and the clarity of its messaging. It walks the walk with an excellent UX of its own.

Price: The Optimal Workshop package, including Optimal Sort and 4 other tools, is $166 per month for an individual plan, or a part of a business plan with discounts for multiple users.

9. Qualtrics XM platform

What does it do?: Our ultimate listening tool brings together feedback of all kinds, from social media sentiment to emotion analysis in video to third-party reviews, in one centralized platform where you can quickly and easily reference it to help you make decisions about UX and experience design.

Highlights: Our listening tools are all designed around one concept – improved experiences. Our platform is geared towards helping you act on the information you collect, so you can benefit from the insights you need without having to sift through irrelevant data. If you want to know exactly what your users think and feel, this is the tool for you.

Price: Listening tools are available as part of a paid Qualtrics package. Contact us to set up a free demo.

10. VWO

What does it do?: VWO provides A/B testing and multivariate testing to help you test and compare the performance of your website designs or design elements across split URLs. As well as helping the UX team, it’s a useful tool for marketing teams and anyone else interested in experience design.

Highlights: VWO is built to scale with you. Its Enterprise solutions give larger businesses the expertise and support they need, and it has the client list to prove it. VWO users appreciate its value for money and easy-to-use interface.

Price: The testing package starts at $199 per month as a stand-alone product, or you can subscribe as part of a wider plan with custom pricing.

Take it further: Download our free Website Experience Playbook