UserTesting.com has built a large panel of users who will record their on-screen actions and voice as they use your website. For each user’s test session, you get a video and their written summary. It costs $29 and is typically ready in one hour. The users are pre-screened to ensure they can follow instructions, stay on task and verbalize their thoughts. UserTesting is fast, easy and inexpensive. Users are prescreened and rated by previous clients so the quality of feedback is pretty good. It can also be quite valuable to see how your site runs on various users’ computers. The control panel is limited, however, so you can only specify age, income, gender, and computer/Web experience. If your target audience is very specific, you might want to run tests with your own customers. UserTesting.com allows you to do this but it’s a bit more work.
Silverback is an application for Mac computers that also records a user’s screen and voice as they browse a website. The interface is extremely simple and meant specifically for moderated usability testing. The program carries a one-time fee of $49.95. If you have easy access to people with whom you can test your site, and a Mac laptop, this is a great solution. You simply arrange to meet somewhere with Internet access and run the test. You end up with a recording that you can easily edit and post on the Web. The software even enables webcam use to embed the user’s facial expressions in the corner of the final recording.
3, 4. Ethnio + UserVue
This is an ideal combination because you get real users and you can ask questions during the session to better understand user behavior. The drawback is that this solution is more expensive and quite time consuming. Don’t forget, you’ll need to offer some sort of compensation to the users.
5. 5 Second Test
5 Second Test allows website owners to upload images that will be reviewed by random Internet users. Users view the image for just five seconds then click on the screen to indicate areas of the images that caught their attention. Using text fields provided on the screen, they describe what they saw on the places they clicked. This is a free service. 5 Second Test is useful for understanding users’ first impressions of your site. You’ll need to review others’ sites in exchange for your review.
6, 7. FeedbackArmy & Mechanical Turk
Quickly and inexpensively get workers at Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to provide written answers to questions about what they think about your site. It costs $10 for 10 reviews.
You could go to Mechanical Turk (mturk.com) directly and save a little money but FeedbackArmy is easier and still very inexpensive. The quality of responses varies dramatically, so you won’t necessarily get 10 helpful reviews for your $10. The advantage here is that you can get a higher quantity of responses — look for repetitive feedback. This is a bit more quantitative approach than watching a video of each user where you might find problems that even the user doesn’t realize they are uncovering. FeedbackArmy has two similar competitors, EasyUsability.com and 3rdPartyFeedback.com.
Feng-GUI uses software to analyze uploaded images and provide image owners with heat maps, symmetry analysis, and focal center/attention information. Their software does not track mouse movement or clicks (instead relying on a predictive algorithm), and the free version does not offer face or text detection. Price ranges from free for a standard heat map on an uploaded image, to $1,000 for 700 images. By paying for the product, you receive premium analysis, including customization options for the reports.
9, 10. ClickTale, UserFly
11. BT Buckets
Engage your users with a free segmentation and behavioral targeting tool.
12. 4Q from IPerceptions
When evaluating how you website is doing obviously it helps to get your customers’ opinions. This free tool helps you answer four important questions:
* How satisfied are my visitors?
* What are my visitors at my website to do?
* Are they completing what they set out to do?
* If not, why not?
* If yes, what did they like best about the online experience?
13. What’s the Buzz?
a keyword research tool with one simple aim: to find out who’s talking about a certain keyword. To do that, it does five things:
* It displays the Technorati Blog Popularity Chart, showing how popular the keyword has been blogged about in the past 90 days
* It displays the Google Trends chart for the keyword
* It finds blog posts tagged with the keyword
* It finds blog posts containing the keyword (a straight-forward search)
* It finds social bookmarks tagged with the keywords
14. Bad Neighborhood Link Checker
scan the links on your website, and on the pages that your website is linking to, and flag possible problem areas.
15. Backlink Social Celebrity SEO Tool
discover who bookmarked a webpage and who linked to that webpage. The bookmarks are searched for in the various social bookmarking services, such as del.icio.us, Raw Sugar, and others. The backlinks are found using Google and Yahoo!.
16. Webbed-O-Meter 2.0
can help track how effective you are at inspiring consumer generated content online, call it buzz marketing, social media marketing or viral marketing.
17. Website Grader
provides a score that incorporates things like website traffic, SEO, social popularity and other technical factors. It also provides some basic advice on how the website can be improved from a marketing perspective.
18. Spider Simulator
help you find out for yourself how a search engine reacts to your pages and what can be done to boost your visibility.
19. Spider Test
Shows the source code of a page, all outbound links, and common words and phrases. used on a page.
20. Google Talk Chatback
Chatback uses the web-based Google Talk Gadget so your visitors don’t need to download anything. It opens in a new window so they can keep chatting with you even if they browse to other pages.
21. Google Analytics
web analytics with “enterprise features” and a ton of plugins and hacks.
22. Yahoo! Analytics
still in beta, but incredibly powerful. It is currently available with Yahoo! Merchant Solutions Standard, Professional, and Yahoo! Store plans.
23. Google Website Optimizer
Free A/B and Multivariate Testing. I’ve written the book on it, Always Be Testing.
adaptive multivariate testing solution requires dramatically less visitors than any other solution. This enables you to run a fairly large multivariate test with relatively small number of visitors. As a result, you will be able to explore the largest number of new ideas within shortest period of time.
This is an open source web analytics solution.
allows access to link information on more than 30+ billion web pages across 200+ million domains.
Get a look at what keywords websites are linking to you with.
Measures metrics to estimate the relative popularity and importance of Page, Blog or Domain.
29. Google Webmaster Tools
see which phrases you’re ranking well for, what pages are causing problems for Google when crawling your site, which pages are getting the most links, rss subscribers, etc.
30. Morgue File
offers free high resolution digital stock photography for either corporate or public use.
for sites that want to serve and track advertising.
analyzes the quality of incoming and outgoing links, keyword density, page titles, plagiarism, popularity rank, the usage of popups and the effectiveness of site’s structure. Sitescore also grades the printability, readability, spiderability and usability of the page as well as spelling and W3C compliance. This is no longer available for free, sorry.
use this to monitor uptime, website performance and other hosting abnormalities.
34. Orangoo Spell Check
spell check your website.
35. The Scrutinizer
offers 283 tools to test your website in one place.
36. Product Indexation Check
use this handy tool to check how many of your category or product pages are included in the major search engines.
allows your visitors to give feedback on your site, via a little button that sits at the edge of each webpage. Also offers Google Analytics integration.
38. Google’s Free Custom Search Engine
create your own custom search engine, indexing your website or add additonal websites as well.
39. Microsoft AdCenter Search Funnels
Customers often perform searches by typing related keywords in specific sequences. This tool helps in visualizing and analyzing the customers’ search sequences.
40. Crazy Egg
track what visitors are doing on particular page and shows you what links they clicked via heatmaps and various overlays.
run online, unmoderated user testing. It is designed to essentially replicate the process of lab-based user testing, albeit online and unmoderated. The primary purpose of Loop11 is to facilitate the collection of quantitative usability data, something that is otherwise considered too expensive to gather.
42. Scrutinizer browser
a web browser, based upon the Adobe AIR toolkit and the WebKit browser, that offers a simulation of the human visual system. Using this simulation, you can get a better idea of how users interact with your site design.
44. Web Page Analyzer
Spiders your page to determine page load time and offers detailed recommendations.
45. Yahoo! YSlow for Firebug
Using Firebug plugin, it shows you the impact of objects that slow your website down.
46. Page Speed by Google
Similar tool to YSlow plus lots of additional resources to speed up your site, including how to optimize your code.
get an accurate, realistic, and helpful estimation of your site’s loading speed. The script fully emulates natural browser behavior downloading your page with all the images, CSS, JS and other files – just like a regular user. A unique feature is that site-perf.com allows to measure packet loss ratio with reasonable precision.
Online image optimizer if you want to learn how to speed up your website and optimize images you can read about it in one of my previous posts.
49. Dynamic Drive
Shrink the size of your images.
another online image optimizer.
51. SEO Blogger
Optimize Your Posts As You Write with this FireFox plugin from WordTracker
52. WordStream’s Free keyword research tool
Nice interface to do keyword research
SEO tool that provides you an ongoing task list of what you need to do to improve your Search Engine Rankings. It breaks down the tasks by:
- Social Profile Tasks
- Q&A Tasks
- Social Bookmarking Tasks
- Buzz tasks
- Content Generation tasks
- Competitive Backlink tasks
- Directory submission tasks
examines how well optimized your site is for search engines as well as the number of backlinks you have, various social media rankings, whether your code is valid, and how well ranked your site is.
It eliminates the need for you to constantly check on classified listings, blogs or social networking sites. Notifications are delivered to your destinations of choice such as instant messenger, mobile phone, email, desktop or web application.
56. Crowd Science
is an online measurement service that builds detailed reports on the demographics of your website audience.
Using site-centric research techniques and some cleverly constructed technology, Crowd Science helps website owners and marketers drive ad sales, direct content creation, and reduce the time and money spent on research.
57. Google Ad Planner
a tool that gives fantastic insights into understanding behavior of visitors to your website in context of the broader ecosystem. My friend Avinash, wrote a great primer on how to use it for competitive intelligence.
58 + 59. Google Trends for Websites & Google Insights for Search
compare volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties.
60. GobbledyGook Grader
evaluates your written content (press release, brochure copy, etc.) and checks for use of gobbledygook, jargon, cliches and over-used, hype-filled words. You’ll receive a grade together with a full report.
is a tool that offers competitive research related to any keyword or URL you provide. Similar to Spyfu.
62. Camtasia and now Camtasia for Mac
Make screencasts of your products, demos, etc. The power of videos to persuade should not be underestimated.
63. Concept Feedback
Receive quick, actionable feedback from a professional community by uploading a concept (a website, logo, advertisement or other.
Quickly run a test on your UI prototypes to answer any nagging questions about usability.
automates and tracks inbound, outbound and web initiated phone calls to any phone through a suite of pre-built phone applications that are instantly activated, configured easily without any programming and updated in real-time via an easy-to-use website. Integrates with web analytics tools.
66. Mongoose Metrics
provides phone call analytics for both online and offline marketers. Customers use our service to better understand which of their campaigns drives phone calls and to see phone call reports directly within their web analytics package of choice.
tracks all conversions generated from your online advertising, including phone calls, and ties them back to the exact keyword or ad source.
Offers an automated service that allows customers to complete their online transactions by telephone. I blogged about someone who does something like this, in Sorry, I don’t give my credit card online.
Tools are great, but you need to know what to do with them. Learn internet marketing from the basics to the bleeding edge, through online video, weekly webinars, conference calls and anytime-Q&A with the top minds in Internet marketing, including, Greg Jarboe on online publicity, Avinash Kaushik & John Marshall on web analytics, Todd Malicoat on SEO, Matt Bailey, Jennifer Laycock on social media, site usability & architecture and myself on conversion optimization.
What are some of your favorite free or low cost tools to make websites better?