# Thinking Aloud

During a usability test, thinking aloud is used to verbalize a subject's thoughts.

Example of a field test

# Summary

The "Thinking aloud" method can only be used in conjunction with a usability test and not alone. With this method, the respondents are asked to express their thoughts during the completion of the test tasks. This enables insights into the cognitive process, feelings, and intentions when interacting with the test application.

# Result

Thinking aloud identifies motivations for the actions of a test person. This may uncover the underlying causes of problems interacting with an application.

# Approach

The " thinking aloud " method is always used during a usability test. Therefore only the additional tasks are described here. For preparation, a suitable recording technique (sound and/or video) must be selected and prepared. The introduction to this method for the test person should also be prepared.

During the test, the respondent must first be given an introduction to the method and try it out in a test run. During the actual test, the moderator must ensure that the respondent constantly verbalizes his thoughts and, if necessary, reminds him of them. It is also possible for the moderator to ask questions.

The qualitative data must be evaluated after the test using data analysis.

# Utilities and templates

For documentation: observation sheet and video camera or sound recording device

# Advantages

While a usability test reveals how a respondent interacts with the test application, the additional " thinking aloud " method is used to determine why the respondent interacts in this way. Hints for the optimization of usage quality can be identified, especially concerning efficiency and satisfaction in terms of "intuitive" usability. The method can be applied without additional effort during a usability test. In contrast to a survey, the respondent cannot think about his statements, so one gets genuine and direct insights.

# Disadvantages

When thinking aloud, no quantitative data can be collected at the same time, i.e. no simultaneous measurement of the efficiency of the test application is possible. For untrained test persons, it is unusual and difficult to comment on their actions, so the moderator has to remind or ask questions again and again. The respondent has to be particularly involved in this method in order to achieve usable results.

# References