Top 10 tools for UX design and research

Title
Top 10 tools for UX design and research
Published
Dec 1, 2021

In this article I compile for you the tools I have worked with over the last few years to develop the UX design part of my job and with which I have helped startups and companies to create amazing digital products.

And I’m not just saying that to make myself look good, I’ve really tried them (along with many others, however, these 10 tools are the ones that have really improved my workflow).

I also tell you that if you want to read more in depth about my user experience design method, take a look at this article where I explain it in detail.

Conceptualization and project management tools

Before starting with the “practical” tools, I think it is important to list those that allow to conceptualize the project well and start with a good management.

Without them it is easy to lose focus and end up with everything disconnected from each other.

Notion

Notion It is one of the most versatile tools I know, and although I initially encountered a significant learning curve, once I saw the possibilities to better manage my work I was in love.

Example of how I organize a project
Example of how I organize a project

In fact, I love the tool so much that right now I use it to organize absolutely everything in my life (my daily routines, my work organization, a personal diary and even everything related to my son such as his activities, medical history, most important memories, etc).

Here is my main dashboard
Here is my main dashboard

Notion has a free and a paid version. In my case, the free version is enough for me. I have only made an integration with super.so to design my web in notion and then have it online with pure CSS magic. A marvel.

(left) is how it looks on my Notion. (right) how it looks live thanks to Super.so
(left) is how it looks on my Notion. (right) how it looks live thanks to Super.so

Google Calendar

Google Calendar is a classic, I know. However, it is still in my life to organize in blocks the most important or fixed tasks of the week. Being able to visualize them quickly, integrate them into my different devices and quickly schedule my team or clients is something that really streamlines processes for me.

So that’s what a super quiet week looks like for me. It’s not the norm, but it’s appreciated when we’re free haha.
So that’s what a super quiet week looks like for me. It’s not the norm, but it’s appreciated when we’re free haha.

Lean UX (Canvas & Book)

It is not a tool as such, but rather a framework created by Jeff Gothelf that will allow you to lay the foundations of the project from a business point of view.

This allows you to focus on finding the right solution for the business, and not to look for solutions “just because” or for problems that really are not (or are not relevant). In short, it avoids the “solutions in search of problems” mentality.

Jeff Gothelf Lean UX Canvas
Jeff Gothelf Lean UX Canvas

UX testing and research tools

Research is the trick. And beyond this, it is also important to have good tools at hand that allow you to collect all this information efficiently, without having it all scattered and without being able to draw conclusions. Also, if you are someone like me, who works 100% remotely, you need to be able to share it easily with your team and clients.

With all this in mind, I recommend the following tools.

Typeform & Google forms

Both allow you to create surveys to send to your current users to know their opinion about a certain functionality, get to know them a little better, etc.

It is as easy as creating the survey, copying the address to share and send it by mail, add it in a prominent area of the web or share it on social networks.

Here is an example of how we use G.Forms at Academia Sinergia to do an initial test for entrepreneurs who need help to boost their business.
Here is an example of how we use G.Forms at Academia Sinergia to do an initial test for entrepreneurs who need help to boost their business.

Miro

With Miro you will be able to conduct brainstorming sessions, user or customer journey, wireframes, carry out Design Sprints, research, etc.

It is one of my favorite tools to apply different Design Thinking techniques and streamline processes with startups.

With miro you can apply a collaborative and 100% remote Design sprint like the one I did with ecoText a few months ago.
With miro you can apply a collaborative and 100% remote Design sprint like the one I did with ecoText a few months ago.

Whimsical

Another tool that I have used a lot for UX Research (especially when I need to make Wireframes, workflows or flowcharts with detail in scalable projects). Whimsical is a good alternative for Miro.

Initial wires for a Xara Cloud functionality improvement
Initial wires for a Xara Cloud functionality improvement

Figma

It is the best tool I know of for collaborative design. You can work from wireframes to high fidelity designs or prototypes (animating and sharing them is also completely possible).

Not to fall in love with Figma if you are a designer is quite difficult.

It has a huge community that shares many resources, tutorials and documentation. The collaboration features are great and they recently launched FigJam to compete with platforms like Miro in terms of Design Thinking.

BTW It has a web application and a desktop version, so it doesn’t matter if you have Mac, Windows, Linux… you can access and work from the browser.

Here is how a real project on Figma looks like in the browser version
Here is how a real project on Figma looks like in the browser version

They are really creating an ideal environment for interactive design professionals.

Analytics tools

Hotjar

It’s an amazing tool. If you integrate Hotjar into your website (it’s just a matter of adding a piece of code in the header or via Google Tag Manager) you will be able to see where users click, a heat map of where they move the most, whether they scroll or not, etc.

Heatmap at Hotjar
Heatmap at Hotjar

It anonymously saves the sessions in videos that you can watch to draw your own conclusions. And it also generates reports separated by device: desktop, tablet and mobile.

Google Analytics

Another classic… I know, but you’d be surprised how many professionals don’t realize that a good analysis of the data collected by Analytics allows them to understand the user.

G.Analytics dashboard
G.Analytics dashboard

Google Analytics is one of the best, free tools you can have for research. It is primarily for marketing research and has several different paid suites, but a free account is more than enough for UX research.

Some of the things you could review with it are the following:

01. Traffic analysis

02. Behaviour analysis

03. Goal creation and analysis

04. Timing and conversion

Maze

Maze is a leading rapid testing platform that enables agile teams to test, learn and act quickly.

Product and marketing teams can test user-facing experiences remotely and collaboratively and see their results transformed into actionable, quantifiable data in a matter of hours, not days. With Maze, teams can test everything from prototypes to concepts to text, democratizing testing across the enterprise.

My testers love it, they think it is fun to use. it makes product management so streamlined and has a wealth of data in it.

It is very easy to use and to create and manage the tests, it has a short learning curve. Integration with figma is great, it simulates devices correctly (Web, iOS, Android). Any change in figma can be updated in just a few moments. Deploying a test and sending it to multiple users is a quick task with Maze.

Maze prototype testing in action — Works just as you would expect it to work
Maze prototype testing in action — Works just as you would expect it to work

Final thoughts

The tool does not make the master, however, a professional with a good tool and the right practice can easily become a magician. And that’s what this article is about, to give you possibilities to exploit your talent to the fullest with tools that make your processes easier.

Only good things come out of testing. A good research and test will help you take better decisions and close those infinite feedback loops where we all argue for hours about which solution is the best.

As always, the tools you choose will depend on the budget of the project (although most of them are 100% free or have an option that is) and the type of project.

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