Think-Aloud Methods

Psychologists, sociologists, ergonomists, designers and other professionals have been using think-aloud methods to identify items of information which are of relevance in a given application environment, and sometimes to also identify the reactions or feelings of the individuals involved. While the methods are popular, until recently not many attempts were made to clarify the nature, strengths and weaknesses of the method itself. Several recent research studies have however shed considerably light on the subject, most notably:

This is what I’m doing and why: reflections on a think-aloud study of digital library users’ information behaviour

Makri, Blandford and Cox

and

Exploring Think-Alouds in Usability Testing: An International Survey

McDonald, Edwards and Zhao

These works, and a few others, are a must-read for anyone who is considering deploying think-aloud as part of their battery of human centred design techniques which will be deployed to understand the needs and desires of the given customer group.

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