Silverback Unveiled | May 13, 2008

A few months ago Clearleft accidentally leaked the fact we were working on our own application, known as Silverback. I say accidentally because we had just bought the domain name and thought we’d better post up a holding page. However the combination of a great logo from Jon Hicks and an amazingly inventive parallax technique from Paul meant the page got far more coverage than anticipated. Before the week was out we had over 5,000 people registered for updates and had started to receive comments like “I don’t know what Silverback is, but I know that I want it!? So no pressure there then!

For the last few months we’ve been working in what some people (not me) would describe as stealth mode. That doesn’t mean we’ve been coming to work dressed as ninjas, although that could be fun. Instead we’ve been keeping schtum about the project. You see; we thought the idea was so blindingly obvious we didn’t want anybody else doing the same thing. Greedy I know!

We’ve been beavering away at the app for the last few months, hunting for glitches and tweaking the interface. We’ve put the app in front of some friends for alpha testing and have just opened it up to a semi-private beta. We’re currently working on setting up the support site and hooking in the payment system. Once that’s all done it should be chocks away!

So by now I’m sure you’re all wondering what the hell this Silverback thing is? Well it’s time to put you out of your misery. Very simply, Silverback is an OSX application to help people run their own low-cost Guerrilla usability tests. It captures screen activity, records audio and video from your built in iSight, and then composites it into a handy Quicktime movie for later use. There are a few added features that make it perfect for usability testing, but it’s basically as simple as that!

Posted at May 13, 2008 10:37 PM


Tim Van Damme said on May 13, 2008 11:35 PM

Hmm I’m currently working on 3 webapps that could use some Silverback testing love!

And you’re right, it IS something obvious. With a mic and cam in every Mac, I’m surprised it’s never been done before.

Looking forward to the public demo! (in case you want to give me early access: you know where to find me)

Geof Harries said on May 13, 2008 11:47 PM

Sounds a bit like Ethnio although is a downloadable application instead of being run through a web browser. I used Ethnio for years to run remote usability tests and it was solid. Actual usability of the Ethnio app was sub-par, so here’s hoping you make big strides there.

Todd said on May 14, 2008 12:39 AM

This is why I am starting to loathe Windows more and more, with apps created like this. :(

Que Sera, Sera. Excellent work I am sure it’ll be. Cheers!

Pedro Custódio said on May 14, 2008 9:47 AM

Hey Andy,

I’ve just sneaked a first glimpse of Siverback in a friends mac (I’m still waiting for an invitation btw! ;) but it’s sounded a lot like one app (ScreenFlow) that I’m using, I guess it’s just a working draft and you can centralized a lot of test, which is an extra feature when comparing to that one, but just wanted to give you a hint about it in case you haven’t come across it, which I doubt of course ;)

Other than that, I love it :)

Piotr said on May 14, 2008 10:13 AM

Brilliant. After seeing a demo at FOWD I can’t wait to get my hand on a copy. Happy bug-hunting!


Piotr said on May 14, 2008 10:14 AM

Brilliant. After seeing a demo at FOWD I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Happy bug-hunting!


Martin Olsson said on May 14, 2008 4:56 PM

Sound like just what I was looking for. Serendipity.

Keith said on May 14, 2008 5:36 PM

Looking forward to checking it out Andy! Sounds very, very useful.

Kevin Laurence said on May 15, 2008 11:17 AM

ITV buys Silverback in £14m deal

Wow! That was quick.

Ian said on May 18, 2008 10:38 AM

From the sneak peaks I’ve seen so far I’m looking forward to testing it out. Currently pre-release usability testing is overlooked with user analysis being performed post release but I think getting some valuable feedback prior to the release via more complete cognitive interaction should be a mandatory step in the design/dev process of every project.

Silverback sounds like the type of tool that will fit right into the designer’s toolbox for use with every project.

I’m very much looking forward to the beta release.

Neil said on May 18, 2008 10:27 PM

I will be using at work for sure.

ea said on May 23, 2008 5:53 AM

This sounds awesome, congrats guys.