March 17, 2017

Tips & Tools for Gaining User Insight

Interested in learning more about your users and how they navigate your website? If not, you should be.

I recently provided some reasons why you should consider UX research for your website. Bottom line, investing in evidence-based design reduces the risk of wasting additional resources after the website has been designed and coded.  If your website isn’t user-friendly, your users won’t want to use it, and that could cause your business to lose leads or could even harm your brand.

Here are some tips and tools that we use to gain user insight:



This is a great tool for quantitatively validating and supporting inferences. If you find yourself saying “I know User X doesn’t do this” but don’t have the data to back it up – you might be making assumptions about your users and their intent. Hotjar helps identify opportunities for usability improvements, analyze website redesigns and can support or disprove anecdotal insights.

With Hotjar, you can support or disprove qualitative insights while using Google Analytics to support findings with heat mapping, video recordings, conversion funnelling, form analysis and feedback polls/surveys.

Crazy Egg

Crazy Egg offers heat mapping and scroll mapping. Google is typically the front door to websites, people search what they are looking for and they end up on your page. Want to know where are your users coming from and who clicks on what the most?

User Interviews

Understand your customer by talking with them. User interviews are relatively inexpensive. Researchers talk with real users to analyze their experience, usability of the product or to gather demographic and psychographic information. This information can also be used to help build personas.

Think Aloud Protocol (TAP Test)

TAP tests are is a fairly economical user testing method that allows you to talk with real users. Nielson Norman says that you can start seeing trends after 5 users. So, let’s say that you have 4 customer segments, you can test just 20 users for this qualitative method.

There is a caveat for this method, along with any qualitative method, it’s not 100% concrete. However, if the method is performed correctly, it will produce reliable results to help validate assumptions.


Morae is a great tool to help figure out what’s making your visitors leave. You can record, observe and analyze usability studies, focus groups, field research and product testing with Morae. Afterward, you can generate graphs and create shareable videos for clients and colleagues.

Morae has a one-time fee of $1,495, non-profit and government agency discounts available.


Google Analytics

Use Google Analytics to determine user behaviour, which pages are being clicked on, viewed and bounced and what terms they are searching for. If you have a ton of clicks and impressions but a high bounce rate (the last page your user viewed) to go with it – it may mean that the user saw something on the page that didn’t apply to them and left or these pages could actually be doing their job correctly.  Either way, you need to talk to real users to really find out the cause.

Google Trends

Don’t have access to Google Analytics? Check out Google Trends for a quick glance at specific terms relative to the total search-volume terms by country.


Google Forms & Survey Monkey

Google Forms and Survey Monkey are simple survey tools that are an economical option when trying to reach a large amount of users.  The only draw back with Google Forms is that there aren’t many customizable options. Wondering about your user psychographic and demographic data? Surveys can reveal:

  • Who is visiting your website
  • Why they are visiting
  • What you need to fix provides some compelling reasons why surveys complement your usability research efforts. Surveys provide feedback and input from hundreds and sometimes thousands of your users. If you use scales (1 – 4, good –  bad), you receive easily digestible data. You can find out a variety of answers from your users, how did they find you, why did they choose you? You might have a sneaking suspicion that a specific page is difficult for users to find.  However, there are most likely other user frustrations that you may have not yet come across.

After completing a survey, you can prioritize what you need to test.


Another helpful survey tool for evaluating online experience, measuring customer satisfaction and being able to implement website improvements based on visitor feedback is iPerception’s 4Q. Creating the surveys are simple but the price tag can be fairly high but It’s worth it if you’re looking for highly customizable capabilities

Card Sorting

Have a sneaking suspicion that your users are struggling with finding what they are looking for? It could be the way the information categorized is tough to navigate. After using heat mapping tools such as Hotjar or performing a TAP (Talk Aloud Protocol) with users and witnessing their frustration firsthand, you can test your current information architecture (the way you categorize information) with card sorts:

Open – Participants sort cards into categories that make sense to them and label each category themselves
Closed- Participants sort cards into categories you give them
Hybrid – Participants sort cards into categories you give them and can create their own categories as well

We use Optimal Workshop at Top Draw, but if you’re on a budget you can use stickies or Trello.

After speaking and interacting with real users you can be confident that you are creating something your users actually want.  Here at Top Draw, we often create personas after our research efforts. Personas identify the highest-priority customers which encompass user and customer research that include contextual information about their pains, gains, and jobs. They articulate the strategic opportunities for the client to serve them.

Keep Users Top of Mind

Using psychographic and demographic information of your customer segments is a great way for us to keep real users in mind when creating content, designing and developing websites.

Want to find out more about your users? Click the big Contact Us button below!

Know What’s Next
from Top Draw