The Ultimate Research and Testing Toolkit for Ecommerce Brands

5 Min Read Your success hinges on your ability to collect, analyze, and implement data to improve your store's performance. This guide covers all of the tools and technology you'll need to build a best-in-class optimization practice.

Written by UserInput Team
Last Updated: June 2023

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In today’s digital landscape, having a robust research and testing program is crucial for the success of any ecommerce business.

To achieve it though, you need access to the right data and tools to help you make informed decisions about your website and its impact on your customers.

In this article, we’ll explore the best usability testing tools and cobble together an ideal research and testing toolkit that you can use to do just that.

Website Analytics

Website analytics is arguably the foundation of every research and testing project. It provides you with critical data like website traffic, page views, bounce rates, and other important metrics to help improve website usability. It can help you understand how users interact with your website, discover which pages are popular, and determine which ones need improvement.

Some things you may want to use analytics to track:

  • Pageviews
  • Bounce rates
  • Conversion rates
  • Traffic sources
  • User behavior
  • Time on site
  • Average session duration
  • Exit pages
  • Goal completions
  • Revenue

Google Analytics is the go-to tool for website analytics, and for good reason. It’s free, easy to set up, and provides a wealth of valuable data, along with custom reports, conversion tracking, and goal setting.

Alternative options to try:

  • Adobe Analytics
  • Piwik PRO
  • Kissmetrics
  • Mixpanel
  • Clicky


Heatmaps are an excellent way to visualize how users interact with your website. They offer a visual representation of where users click, how far they scroll down, and what content they engage with the most, which helps you figure out which parts of your site are effective and which ones… not so much.

Some things you may want to use heatmaps to track:

  • Clicks
  • Scrolls
  • Mouse movements
  • Areas of high engagement
  • Areas of low engagement
  • Areas of confusion
  • User flow

Crazy Egg is one of the best heatmap tools on the market and provides a range of visualizations, along with advanced filtering options.

Alternative options to try:

  • Hotjar
  • Mouseflow
  • Clicktale


Surveys can be a valuable tool for collecting feedback from website visitors. A good survey can help you understand your audience and their unique pain points, plus help you gather insight into areas that could use improvement. You can ask specific questions tailored to your business, and receive actionable answers you can start using right away to implement improvements.

Some of the things surveys can help you discover are:

  • Customer preferences
  • Feedback
  • Pain points
  • Demographic information
  • User personas

SurveyMonkey is one of our top picks for simple surveys. It’s easy to use, provides a range of question types that you can create and customize, and even offers advanced features like skip logic and branching.

Alternative survey options to try:

  • Typeform
  • Google Forms
  • Qualtrics

A/B Testing

A/B testing is the process of comparing two versions of a web page to see which one performs better. Easy, peasy. It’s a long-standing and effective way to optimize your site and perform CRO testing.

Some of the things A/B testing can help you determine are:

  • Conversion rates
  • Engagement metrics
  • User behavior
  • Time on page
  • Number of clicks
  • Scroll depth
  • Engagement rate
  • Conversion rate by variant

We’d have to say Optimizely is our top pick for A/B testing if you have the budget for it. It’s easy to use, provides a wide range of features, and allows you to test multiple variations. However, our second top pick would be VWO. It’s comparable in terms of features, but their pricing tiers are more transparent if you’re on a tight budget, and they even offer a free version if you’re new to A/B testing.

Alternative options to try:

  • Google Optimize
  • Convert

Session Recordings

Session recordings are a valuable tool that lets you see how users interact with your website in real-time. Recorded sessions offer a visual representation of your user’s journey, including where they click, what pages they visit, and where they get stuck. Obviously, this can be helpful intel into user behavior and navigation, which can be used to identify pain points and areas that need an upgrade.

Some of the things session recordings can reveal:

  • User behavior
  • Navigation
  • Click path
  • Mouse movement
  • Scrolling behavior
  • Error messages
  • Page load times

For this category, we’d have to say that Smartlook is our top pick for session recordings, because it provides a range of features and offers transparent pricing, along with a free tier if you want to give them a whirl before committing real money.

Alternative options to try:

  • Inspectlet
  • FullStory
  • Lucky Orange

User Testing

User testing involves recruiting real users and observing them as they interact with your website. You can gain valuable feedback and it’s an effective way to identify usability issues and improve the user experience.

Some of the things user testing can investigate:

  • User feedback
  • Behavior
  • Task completion rate
  • Time on task
  • User satisfaction
  • User comprehension
  • User frustration

Not to toot our own horn or anything, but we definitely feel UserInput is the best of the best in this category of site research and optimization. We can offer you a targeted pool of users to choose from, you can set up your tests quickly, and you get detailed feedback in return.

Of course, we aren’t the only game in town, so if you’d like to suss out the competition, some alternatives to try are:

  • Userlytics
  • UserTesting
  • TryMyUI

Customer Interviews

Customer interviews are (insert chef’s kiss here) a premium tool to help you gather qualitative data straight from the horse’s mouth. In other words, your customers. They provide valuable insights into customer preferences and pain points to help you better understand their needs and develop solutions to meet their expectations.

Some data customer interviews can offer:

  • Customer preferences
  • Feedback
  • Pain points
  • Purchase history
  • Product preferences
  • Buying habits
  • Brand loyalty
  • Customer lifetime value

Again, not to toot our own horn—okay, fine, we’re tooting. However, we believe UserInput is hands down one of the best tools on the market for customer interviews. We offer a targeted pool of real users, you can set up your interviews with no muss, no fuss, and the results you get back includes detailed and actionable feedback you can start using right away.

Alternatives to try:

  • Qualaroo
  • Lookback
  • Ethnic
  • GreatQuestion

Page Design

Page design is a vital aspect of a website’s usability that can heavily impact user engagement and conversion rates. To create an ideal user experience, it’s got to be visually appealing, easy to navigate, and functional.

Some of the ways page design can be evaluated are by:

  • Design preferences
  • User behavior
  • Branding consistency
  • Layout effectiveness
  • Call-to-action placement
  • Visual hierarchy
  • Page speed

Adobe Creative Cloud with Adobe XD is probably our top pick just because it’s so well-known and used by many, along with being relatively affordable. Plus, if you do their all apps plan, you get access to several other tools that can be helpful for your ecommerce biz too.

Alternative top options to try:

  • Sketch
  • Figma
  • InVision

So, to put together a best-in-class research and testing toolkit and calculate your yearly investment looks a bit like this:

  • Google Analytics: Free
  • Crazy Egg: $29/month (Basic Plan)
  • SurveyMonkey: $25/month (Team Advantage Plan)
  • VWO: $356/month (Growth Plan)
  • Smartlook: $55/month (Pro Plan)
  • UserInput: $49/month (Starter Plan) or $149/month (1 Reviewer Plan)
  • Adobe Creative Cloud: $54.99/month (All Apps Plan)

Total cost per month: approximately $569.99/month

Total cost per year: approximately $6,839.88/year

Granted, 7k in a year is nothing to sneeze at, but we’d argue that the insights and data using tools like these can provide will help you grow your business 10-100x that amount.

Just remember that any research and testing project depends on the quality of your data and the tools for testing you use to gather and analyze it. Choose the right tools and you’ll be smoking your competition in no time.

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Customer Experience