Userfly: Usability Testing Made Easy

May 19th, 2009
Published on
May 19th, 2009

Userfly – Web Usability Testing Made Easy

Userfly is described as usability testing made easy. Since my review of Feedback Army I have been overwhelmed with different websites offering usability services in a quick and easy package. However, Userfly seems to stand out from the crowd! I have put it to the test and brought you my findings.

After using Userfly I can see why so many people talk about it. This application is thoroughly thought out and professionally done. To top it off, they even offer 10 free recordings a month to see if the service is right for you. How could I resist the temptation of testing such a service?

How it works

Userfly describes it’s service as the following: provides instantaneous web user studies by recording user visits and letting you play them back to see every mouse movement, click, and form interaction. Conducting a user study doesn’t have to be expensive or a logistic nightmare. With you can perform simple and cheap user testing with your real users. And it only takes one minute to set up!

Userfly Code SnippetUserfly operates through a piece of javascript you place in your head tag.

I would say this is a pretty straight forward description of the service that I found to be true. This service allows you to easily record your visitors and reports are offered you to in video format. This report also contains many other helpful features and options.

Using Userfly to record your users is only the first step, however. Let me give you some insight on how to use this to better your website.

Steps to learning from Userfly

Following these steps can help you understand your user’s interactions with your website. Learning from these actions can help you improve UX by watching the movements within your user interface.

  1. Embed the Code

    Once you sign up you are brought to offered a tab labeled Install. This option will present you with the javascript you asked to place in your head tag. There is even an option for one click install for TypePad and Blogger users.

    Be sure to check your site after you’ve installed the javascript. We had a slight mishap at UX Booth when entering the javascript. It seems that the script adds IDs to elements that don’t have IDs. Now I am not a big coder so I can not go into detail but Andrew and I looked into it a bit and discovered the CSS for our headers did not agree with having an ID added to them. For a short period of time our headers were whacked out and we had to remove the code. I continued testing on my gecko blog that I run and had no errors there.

    Also, be sure to remove the code when you want to stop testing. It seems there is a small bug at the moment that records the occastional visitor even when you specify a pause in the session recording in the Userfly control panel.

  2. Wait for Users

    Once the javascript is installed the recordings start rolling in. Be patient, you will want to wait an hour or two if your website does not have high traffic to attain some real valuable recordings! Running Userfly on my gecko blog, which averages only between 100 to 200 visitors per day, I got some great results in the first 10 to 15 minutes but the real eye opening recordings happened in the next few hours.

    Also notice that Userfly by default will record you as a visitor too. You do have the option to block IPs through the control panel. You may consider doing this for your IP. Something else I noticed is that recordings that are very short are not added to your listings to prevent wasted time and money. I really liked seeing this!

  3. Understand the Reports

    Each aspect of the Recordings page is important. The first portion of the Recordings page tells you what page was recorded. This is important to take note of as it is the starting point at which you viewer has landed on. Various parts of your website may have different templates and structures and it is important to take note of how possible first time visitors react with exposure to each type of page.

    The next part of the report shows you exactly where the user came from, if it can be detected. I saw an interesting difference in visitors from different sources. Some of our readers that visited from PSD Tuts stuck around and read articles in depth, while visitors from social websites came and skimmed very quickly. More research is needed to understand if this is valid pattern but it is something to consider when trying to keep users around for longer.

    The next two features are date, as in when the recording was captured, and page views, which tells you how many pages were viewed in the visit and how long the user was there. Both of these things can be factored into a bigger picture to see how different influences may change your users duration and exploration.

    Next is the location of the visitor with an option to view this location on a map. Users from different countries or even regions may interact with your site differently. Finally you are presented the browser the user is viewing you with as well as the option to save, delete, or ban an IP.

  4. Watch the Videos

    Watching the videos is also very simple process. Simply select a visit and enjoy.

    This part is the most important bit, really. You need to set aside some time to sit and watch these. They can sometimes be boring and often time consuming. Some recordings it seems like the user fell asleep at the mouse when reading. Just remember, these interactions are what will lead you to your improvements!

  5. Take Note of Interactions

    This really is the epiphany of Userfly. Pay special attention when watching those interaction recordings.

    Are users from search engines visiting your website and immediately leaving through google ads? Is it worth the loss? Do users from a specific forum seem to stay longer? Would you consider advertising with them to increase a stable audience?

    Ask yourself these kind of questions. Also, pay attention to what people click on and how they navigate. You know your design, you think it works well. You may be surprised when people click on items you never thought would look like links or not understand how to easily return to the home page. Studying these interactions can build a data bank of knowledge that will increase your UX skills and bring you up that extra notch you need!

  6. Correct Problems

    This is it, time to bring it home. Now that you’ve amassed a list of problems that your website showcases you can now correct them! Use what you’ve learned and apply it to make the user experience better and more enjoyable for your users. It will easily increase profits, subscribers, and viewers.

    Don’t stop now though. Test again, improve again, and repeat! The fight is a never ending one for people interested in improving usability.

What I liked

I think I’ve made it clear enough that I feel that Userfly is well thought out and covers the bases. Let me elaborate a bit:

Userfly shows where the visitor comes from in the Refer section.

  • The referral link: Having the referral link as part of the feedback process allows the user to see how visitors from different sources operate differently. In my testing it is clear how someone from a forum navigates differently from a search engine. This information can lead to a better experience for the users and create better sales, more loyal visitors, and a happier viewing experience.
  • Video is creepy at first, but very useful: Ok, at first I was a little creeped out watching my viewers as if it were live. After getting over that I was amazed. People were clicking on things that weren’t links and reading pages I expected people to only quickly scan over. Overall it gave me a clear understanding of how my user interface worked, and more importantly didn’t work.
  • Userfly IPThe ability to block IPs can be useful.
  • Ability to ignore IPs: I was happy to be able to ignore IPs. This feature allows me to block recordings of my visits, as well as IPs that you find not creating valuable feedback for you. It’s all about saving resources for those recordings that really count!
  • Smart recording, to save me money: Something I really found useful was the fact that Userfly does not parse visits that are very small or insignificant. If I pay for 20 recordings I do not want a third of these visits to be of someone landing on my page and exiting in 2 seconds. (Even though this could tell me something..).

What I’d Like to See Different

There are some features that I would like to see a little different, or maybe even some things added to this service:

  • Auto recognition of my IP: I think it may be useful to auto ignore the site owner’s IP address. This could save time for the tester. However, a simple note saying that your IP is being blocked could work as a preventative to any confusion of visits not being recorded, as well as an option to disable this for those who do not prefer it.
  • Charts

    Charts such as Google Analytics provides could be useful.

  • Lets see some charts: It’d be useful to see some graphical data. I am a visual man! I could see benefit in charting page view averages based on browser, referral link, location, and more. This data could also be used in presentations given to clients after using this service.
  • I’d love to keep these videos: I would like to be able to keep the video recordings of the users interactions for longer than you save them on Userfly. Offer an option to download an archive of the videos recorded. This could be useful for UX professionals to offer their clients along with the report of their findings.


The service that Userfly offers is simple: the ability to see exactly what your viewers see and do. This information can lead to the understanding of common user experience problems that in turn can be fixed.

I would highly recommend adding Userfly to your arsenal of UX related resources. This real life user testing is simple, fast, and helpful.

What do you think

Have you used Userfly? What aspects of the service were your favorite and what would you like to see changed or added? Leave us a comment and tell us below!

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