I spoke with UserZoom CEO Alfonso de la Nuez Monday about his firm’s announcement last Thursday that it has acquired Validately. Why? Because many companies ask for my help selecting a usability testing vendor, and the first thing I ask them is what they need the tool to do.

Do they need moderated and unmoderated testing, for example? Participant sourcing? Something else? When it’s clear a firm is ready to invest in a solid solution, there are three major vendors I have pointed them to: UserTesting, UserZoom, and Validately. But as of last week, that list shrank down to two.

What’s the impact for companies that need a usability testing tool? Based on my research over the years and my conversation with de la Nuez, here are the three things you should know.

UserZoom Customers Get A Better Moderated Testing Solution

De la Nuez told me UserZoom will be getting rid of its current moderated technology and moving over to Validately’s. Why? Because Validately’s experience solves many of the pain points in UserZoom’s current experience. UserZoom customers will get features like scheduling assistance and continuous recording (i.e., recording not just individual tasks but the entire test) in the next few months.

Validately Customers Still Benefit From The Platform’s Simplicity

I speak with customers of Validately regularly, and it’s clear they love the tool’s simplicity. It’s easy to understand and use, making it a good fit (along with other tools like UserTesting’s Product Insight) for people with less research expertise or experience than most research pros have — like designers and product managers.

De la Nuez told me the products will remain separate for the rest of the year but that once they integrate, customers can expect to see different templates or pathways depending on who’s using the platform and what they are trying to do. For example, it will let you choose to either set up and execute a simple study or to conduct more robust studies that leverage UserZoom’s broader toolkit.

Orgs With Small Research Tool Budgets Might Have A Harder Time

I’ve found that fans of Validately also tend to love its price point because it’s more affordable than its two big competitors’. De la Nuez told me his firm has not yet finalized how licensing will change following this acquisition. But there’s a good chance that the days of low-cost contracts are behind us.

In general, research tool vendors are moving away from providing project-based agreements in an effort to increase retention. This makes it more and more likely that orgs with less mature research practices and fewer dollars to spend will be forced to turn to the old-school guerrilla tactics of cobbling together technologies and running things themselves — which is doable but time-consuming. What will this lead to?

First, it will create more opportunities for services providers. Customers who are only running a handful of studies a year and can’t justify the license price may turn to consultancies and agencies that have access to these tools to run their research for them. This also means digital experience research will continue to be confined to big projects rather than conducted — as it should be — on a rolling basis.

Second, it will widen the gap between experience leaders and laggards. Companies not willing to allocate budget to research tools will lack the fast, ongoing product insights necessary for effective continuous improvement. As customers’ tolerance for buggy and unintuitive digital experiences continues to drop, firms without access to a solid research tool providing a steady stream of insights will see their business steadily drop, too.