Silverback has launched!

Steve the gorilla

Clearleft’s first desktop application is now available! Silverback is a handy piece of software to make ‘guerilla’ usability testing a breeze. Running on Mac OS X Tiger or Leopard, Silverback records mouse movements and keystrokes, and uses your Mac’s built-in microphone to record the usability test moderator and tester’s commentary. Importantly too, it also records the tester’s facial expressions using the iSight – a picture says a thousand words and testers don’t always say what they’re really feeling so it’s handy to have a visual record. There’s also some other great features including pausing and adding place markers using your Mac remote, a bunch of handy export options, and simple, effective organisation of projects and test sessions. At the end of it all, Silverback exports to a Quicktime movie which you can then edit to your heart’s content in your favourite movie software.

At Clearleft we do a lot of small scale usability testing. In fact, where possible, we usability test every site we design. Our old system was a bit awkward and off-putting (involving a camcorder and such paraphernalia) so we had an itch to scratch and designed Silverback to address our own usability testing needs. It’s made our lives a lot easier – hopefully it could do the same for you.

We are indebted to the super-helpful folk who have been beta testing Silverback over the past few months. Without them, Silverback wouldn’t have the stability and ease-of-use it now does. We were immensely pleased that the feedback from our testers was overwhelmingly positive. Here’s a few choice quotes to give you a flavour:

Harry Brignall: it does what it’s meant to do elegantly and quickly … it encourages you to keep your workflow clean and simple.

Garret Dimon: I believe it can bring usability testing the masses and will be the go-to application for basic usability testing. It’s simple, focused, thoughtful, polished, and a joy to use.

Matthew Pennell: I’ll definitely be pushing to use it at work if we ever get permission to carry out any more usability tests.

Jay Hathaway: If you design websites or application interfaces, this program is worth the wait. Silverback is intuitive to use and provides straightforward and informative results.

Kyle Meyer: I was simply blown away by its ease of use and useful features. It’s a great substitute for anyone without a dedicated testing lab [and] it makes for an awesome portable test station, no extra cameras or one way mirrors needed. Silverback will be a must have application for anyone working on creating websites or interfaces for web applications.

Mark Ford: The movies are incredibly useful for understanding how users will interact with your site, they’re a very persuasive tool for getting colleagues to rethink functionality. I think Clearleft have done a great job with Silverback, we’ll definitely be buying a license when they launch the product.

Our first foray into desktop application design has been quite a journey; a longer one that we hoped, but exciting, frustrating and informative as all good journeys are. I would be remiss not to thank Jon Hicks for Steve the Gorilla and further interface design, and of course Martin Redington for a brilliant job actually coding the application.

You can download Silverback for free for 30 days, after which registration costs a mere $49.95 ($58.69 incl VAT). Enjoy!