When it comes to Web design and development, one thing trumps the latest technology and cool features: usability. Why? Because all of the features and functions in the world are completely worthless if a human user is unable to figure out how to use them. But testing against human factors, creating use cases, and observing focus groups can prove to be a costly endeavor for even the largest of companies.
Now, there's a cost-effective means of seeing how usable your pages are: Userfly, a simple way to test your site's usability for free - with one line of code.
Simply add the Userfly code to your site, and you'll soon be a fly-on-the-wall as users walk through your pages. That one line of code allows Userfly to record a screencast of your users' behavior, providing some very interesting feedback on how they are interacting with your site, from simple mouse tracking to complex interactions with AJAX elements.
userfly.com from Chris Estreich on Vimeo.
The user behavior is recorded for the entire site visit, following the user from page to page. Once the user leaves the site, the capture ends.
Reviewing the walkthroughs is just as easy. Userfly provides information on the user's browser, each page visited, and time spent on each page. Clicking on a particular page plays back the interaction, showing where the user moved his or her mouse and where he or she clicked. Once you're finished watching, you're prompted to rate the usefulness of the capture. Then, you can decide to keep it or discard it.
Even during a short test, I found Userfly incredibly helpful - given that a number of users stopped by as I was testing the app. In fact, the only complaint I had was that the walkthrough fails to automatically pan as the user scrolls. Meaning? Meaning you have to manually scroll to keep up with the mouse movements - which I found to be nearly impossible on lengthy posts.
When the user didn't scroll, however, I found myself replaying the walkthroughs over and over. It was invaluable to see how other users see and use the pages that I find so familiar. Suffice it to say, I immediately noticed areas for improvement.
Userfly will allow you to record 10 users per hour, monitoring basic events for free. Those who are interested in more users per hour and more advanced events can contact Userfly for a quote.
How are people using your site? Wouldn't you like to know? Grab the code at Userfly and take a look at your site through someone else's eyes.