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I'm new into this subject and, for what I've read, it seems that usability tests take place AFTER site development. They surely can have that property but if we draw a totally new web application, we should consider doing those, before going to the graphic design team.

Questions:

1) What Open Source tools (if any) do we have in order do build mockups and make them available to be tested ?

2) We need to record user think alouds and possible user clicks. Is there any open source tool that we may considered common and wealthy that we can use ?

Update:

Clickheat
It's open source, it does what it says, but your site must be life.

Usabilla
It allows sketch uploads but is hosted somewhere else. And its not open source:

Morae
Has it all.
BUT: windows only and expensive like hell - no open source.

Silverback
Not opensource. Mac only.
It says it's a usability software but I don't see any usability feature there. It records audio and video. Like many others.
It doesn't deal with meta information of any sort.

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There's some software listed on this previous question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/4511/… –  PhillipW Oct 29 '11 at 9:49
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8 Answers

Hey Mem, can't believe what I am reading here. Instead of rejecting everyone's tipps maybe it is a good idea, that you first clarify what do you understand if you say "usability features"?

To your assumptions and questions:

I'm new into this subject and, for what I've read, it seems that usability tests take place AFTER site development. They surely can have that property but if we draw a totally new web application, we should consider doing those, before going to the graphic design team.

Right, you can run usability tests whenever you want. The sooner the better. Especially if you don't have any dedicated UX person. But on the other hand, you should not miss the chance to integrate your Designers as early as possible in the design/dev process. Because usually they have the experience already what works and what not. Having expert reviews in the beginning is much better. Can save you time and money. After a couple of internal iterations, you can combine with user testing for tweaking the experience.

1) What Open Source tools (if any) do we have in order do build mockups and make them available to be tested ?

The first and most important mock-up tool is paper & pen ;) Also usually you can use many of the tools which are probably already installed on your computer (from Gimp to Adobe Creative Suite, from Open Office to GDocs). Additionally here is another list: http://www.ixda.org/node/17220

To make mockups available for testing, you just print it or upload it to a webspace. That's not really a question of open soure.

2) We need to record user think alouds and possible user clicks. Is there any open source tool that we may considered common and wealthy that we can use ?

I am using Screenflow: http://www.telestream.net/screen-flow/overview.htm Great tool, easy to use and worth it's money. Sure, not open source. But worth its money.

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I'd go for simple paper mocks. The best guide on the subject is Paper Prototyping by Carolyn Snyder

Consider this: while it seems like a good idea to have recording of what the participants do, during the design process you probably aren't going to have time to analyze the videos in detail anyway. Much easier to use simple paper prototypes with one member of the team shuffling between the mock pages as the user proceeds with couple of people making notes. You get the main points to improve even without the recordings and it is better to do several rounds of testing improving the design as you go along anyway.

Also, if you intend to measure usability to any reasonable degree of certainty, you will need quite a few participants. While I'm all for doing heavy duty usability testing if budget allows, it just isn't feasible on most projects.

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I still feel a software could be of use on those cases. Even if you don't look at everything at that time, I still believe they could be time savers later on the process, especially, regarding the data they can provide us to work with. However, I can't also forget the context where we are doing those, and you kindly remind me about that context. –  MEM Jun 17 '13 at 19:13
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Depends on what you need to test. Most early stage usability testing is qualitative research, hence your insistence on quantitative data (metrics etc.) is moot. Metrics only make sense if your sample size is large enough, otherwise they are simply put: bullshit. Learn to use your ears and eyes, and you will discover most significant problems, anyway.

And think about your feedback style – your comments do not make you sound particularly wise and mature. Especially given that you do not seem very educated about the topic you are asking about.

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I wish not to look wise and mature. :) I couldn't care less about that. I wish however, to learn. But I need to be rigorous about what I'm receiving to read. If I don't like the IDEAS I think and react. About the users who wrote those ideas, I've nothing against that. About your comment, I liked that approach regarding the ears and eyes, those are, perhaps, one of the best tools around. :) –  MEM Jun 17 '13 at 19:10
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If you want to build mockups then you can use Pencil. It is an open source tool. If you are only interested in getting a free tool, then you can use Google Docs as well. Or is there another reason why you want open source software?

When you print out the mockups then users can "click" on it by using a pen or pencil. This way you already have the user clicks saved.

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I'm more looking for open source programms. Balsamic Mookups (not open source but cross os), and perhaps a desktop record software could do. But I was looking for more ux specific ones, open source, because we all run open source here. :) Ubuntu rules. :D –  MEM Apr 9 '11 at 23:33
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A ui prototyping & performance testing tool - http://cogtool.hcii.cs.cmu.edu/

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Thanks. That is indeed a tool. (As far as I was able to read). I didn't have the skills nor patience to read all documentation there. Perhaps is useful, perhaps not. I will never know. :) –  MEM Apr 10 '11 at 20:13
    
@MEM: that sounds a bit harsh. You ask for open-source mock-up tools, prototyping, that could be tested. CogTool looks like a ideal candidate for that. Yet you seem to disregard it at first sight. –  nathanvda Apr 12 '11 at 8:46
    
There is only one Law in the entire HCI field and its Fitt's Law. This application was designed around applying this Law. –  iambeano Apr 12 '11 at 12:14
    
I don't agree then anything with a H on the name could be rules with one single Law, no matter what we talk about. @nathanvda: I could be wrong. But I don't agree. Yes is harsh. But not harsh towards the USER, or towards the PERSONS that wrote that article. If about the IDEA that conduces that. –  MEM Jun 17 '13 at 19:01
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This GNOME Usability Testing Suite sounds exactly what you're looking for, but it's a work in progress and the UI isn't there yet.

You can try Istanbul and GTK RecordMyDesktop.

Also feel free to use online tools like

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Istanbul and GTK RecordMyDesktop are tools for recording desktop like, when we want to do a video cast. The point is to have the meta data, like clicks, mouse travelling, heat metrics... and so on... I'm doubting that even Gnome Usability Testing Suite has those things. –  MEM Apr 11 '11 at 11:13
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Jing - Screen capture (video, or pic)

http://www.techsmith.com/jing/

3M visual attantion service - Software generated heatmaps (5 for free)

http://https://vas.3m.com/

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That's nothing to do with usability. Camtasia, CamStudio and a lot of others that save desktop information are usually used to record screen casts, but they lack the metric data retrieval, like clicks number, heat metrics and so on. No use there. Right? –  MEM Apr 11 '11 at 11:07
    
It's just a simple screen casting software. You can use it at user sessions... unfortunately it has no metric data :( –  Roland Pokornyik Apr 12 '11 at 6:59
    
The first (and only?) thing in usability testing is watching how a user uses your website. While it lacks the metric data, using this allows your developers to see what is going on. In "Dont'make me think" Krug is proposing this as a way to do your own usability tests (as opposed to using usability labs). –  nathanvda Apr 12 '11 at 8:50
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It seems like you want to look over a good review of usability testing tools:

http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2011/10/20/comprehensive-review-usability-user-experience-testing-tools/

That's a pretty good (and recent) post that goes over many options you may have, paid and free. Many help with the recording of clicks.

As for local recording? For local usability testing, I'd recommend just using a screen recorder like Quicktime. I run local user testing and find these pretty useful to look over in case I missed anything in my notes during the test.

Good luck!

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