Comparing the 5 Best User Research Tools in 2021

Last updated: 

May 3, 2021

Olivia Cohen

Want to know the best user research tools to use in 2021? These top 6 will take your user experience to the next level starting with...

Want to know the best user research tools to use in 2021?

With so many options out there, how do you decide which tools are the best for you? It comes down to the information that you need to know about your ideal customer.

In this article, we've put together a list of the top five user research tools, all offering unique ways to uncover customer insights. By the end, you'll be able to make a solid decision on the right tools to give the information you need to improve your website or digital application. 

The Best User Research Tools in 2021

An intuitive interface that has useful information at the get-go is the trademark of the following five tools. When you’re looking to get information, you don’t want to have to hunt around for a feature or have to spend hours agonizing over a tutorial. 

Some characteristics of these tools are that they’re intuitive and easy to use. They also have a free trial, which is the best way to get in a drive and see if you like where you’re going. Of course, each use research tool is uniquely powerful, capable of helping you uncover amazing information related to your prospects and customers.

Related Article: The Founders Guide to Actually Understanding Users 

#1 Talkwalker

Talkwalker is a social listening tool that tracks the impact of your brand across all social media platforms. You can gain sentiment analysis and compare how your brand compares to top brands from around the world.  

You can set custom KPIs to track and monitor the conversation that competitors are having in real-time. You can build campaigns and analyze visuals and text and uncover opportunities to collaborate with influencers. 

Bottomline: Great for understanding how others are interacting with your brand and the associated trends you can use to create content around your message.    

#2 SparkToro

SparkToro is an audience intelligence tool that helps you find out where your audience is spending time online, what they’re reading, and who they’re following. 

Getting accurate information from a survey can be a challenge due to selection bias. What if you could learn your audience preferences without having to ask them to fill out a survey or guess based on incomplete data? Now you can.

SparkToro crawls billions of websites and social accounts and aggregates user behaviors into a user-friendly database. Want to find out what podcasts are most popular with architects? Need intel on a competitors’ website visitors? 

You can easily find out about the online behavior of any audience that you can describe. It can help you direct your marketing efforts to the places that will have the most significant impact. 

Bottomline: Makes audience intelligence a breeze without having to cyber-stalk your customers. Learn preferences based on actual user data across the web.      

#3 Hotjar

Part of understanding your user is learning how they interact with your website. Using web analytics can make it difficult to tell the true story of what a visitor likes or dislikes on individual pages.

Hotjar is a website behavior tool that shows you how visitors interact with your website. The heatmaps capture user behavior visually by showing what grabs attention and where the attention drops on each page. 

Recordings show a video playback of how users navigate your website, showing clicks, mouse movements, page clicks, and more. You can spot problems with the flow where users are getting stuck or not taking the desired action. Like your watching over the shoulder, recordings tell the story behind your web analytics. 

You can also get direct input from visitors through surveys and contextual feedback linked to on-page elements. Customers can tell you precisely what they like or don’t like about a menu item, color, form, or why they didn’t take a specific action—you name it. 

Bottomline: Powerful tool that helps improve website UX. By looking at visual data from actual users, you’ll be able to fix problem areas and transfer what is working to other pages. 

#4 GrowthBar

GrowthBar is an SEO tool for marketers and bloggers. Instead of a stand-alone web application like Moz or Semrush, or Ahrefs (mentioned next), it’s a chrome extension you use in-browser.  

You can get common information that you’d expect from an SEO tool like keyword difficulty, domain authority, backlinks, top traffic, and other metrics. The difference is that it’s in line with your search query.

One huge advantage is that there is no limit to how many search queries that you can perform. For those that are frequently exploring keyword and content ideas, this is a huge win. Some of the other tools have a limit to the number of reports that you can generate.

Bottomline: More affordable than other full-blown SEO tools and allows you to work directly in the browser. If you’re looking for minimal complexity and want to focus on competitor analysis, this may be a good choice.  

#5 Grain

If you do video calls for team meetings, sales meetings, webinars, or group training, recording a transcription can be a valuable piece of content to collaborate with your team. 

If you’ve used a service or transcription tool before, you know that the results are hit or miss. This makes it time-consuming to go back to correct mistakes, especially when using a clumsy text editor. 

Grain is a transcription app that works directly within Zoom and is now video platform agnostic (meaning you can use it with any video conferencing tool). It allows you to automatically record, transcribe, create highlight reels, and share from an easy-to-use dashboard. 

The text editor is side-by-side the video, allowing you to see both as you select the time-stamped section of text. You can then share these highlights with your team or use them for marketing video testimonials. 

Bottomline: There’s no better way to understand the voice of the customer, your team, investors, and more than through their words. Researchers, students, and marketers are making Grain their first choice for transcription. Try it for free. 

Which User Research Tool Is Best For You?

Before you get started with any new tool, figure out what you want to learn about your customer and your product, and then how you want to measure that data. Each tool offers unique ways to show behavior, but you can quickly start drowning in data without a clear idea of what you want to know. 

Testing is the best way to know which tool, or tools, are right for you. The great thing is that all tools mentioned offer free trials—so dive in with these five to learn more about your ideal customers.