In the past, I’ve relied on Morae from TechSmith to record and analyze my usability tests, but I haven’t convinced my new boss to bite off on the cost of it. There’s nothing better than a video clip from a usability test to show the managers, client, and especially the developers problem spots that need fixing in the user interface. Morae ties it all together nicely by allowing you to capture video of the user’s facial expressions, the user’s voice, and their actions and clicks on the screen–all synchronized and easy to tag, analyze, and pull clips from. At $1,495 for the bundle, I always thought it was very affordable (especially compared to the usability labs of old, that had multiple rooms, video cameras, and recording equipment), but I’m in a different environment now. My boss needs to be convinced of the utility of it before he’ll spend a penny.
My good friend Carla at StickySeeds pointed me over to some usability testing software that I hadn’t heard of before: Silverback. It looks like a very comprehensive usability testing package–and I’m betting it’s very easy to use, having been developed by user experience designers. They offer a free 30-day trial, and after that it’s only $49! (I could even spring for that out of my own pocket if I had to.) Now here’s some software that appears to have the potential to advance the state of software usability.
Why do I say that? So often usability practitioners meet resistance to employing usability testing during software development, and every little bit to make that argument easier (and show how affordable usability is) helps immensely. (Oh, and on top of that, they donate 10% of Silverback profits to help the gorillas.)
Silverback looks great, but it’s only for the Mac, and alas, I have no Mac. I e-mailed them right away to ask if they have considered making a PC version, and so far, they have no plans to, but it depends on demand. So if you think a PC version of Silverback would be useful to you, contact them and let them know. If enough of us do it, perhaps we can get them to make one!
I’m still on the lookout for more solutions, so if you know of any, please comment …