How to use our Think-Aloud feature in your online usability tests
Usability Testing

Published on May 29, 2020

How to use our Think-Aloud feature in your online usability tests

What is the best way to know your users' thoughts? Let your users tell you. That's what we call “thinking aloud” in UX.

Is it possible to use this tool in online usability testing? Read more to find out how you can implement Thinking-Aloud feature in your online usability tests in UXtweak. You will learn how to record respondents and also how to steer them to get more detailed insights for your team.

Thinking-Aloud presents one of the most useful usability testing tools for a UX researcher. Jakob Nielsen argues that this situation is a result of a barely changing nature of human behaviour and the same applies to its studies.  Additionally, tools that can record and analyze inner monologues are relatively cheap, easy to learn and they can be universally used in other projects.

Setting up research goals and tasks

Before starting any Think-Aloud study, you firstly need to set your goals. Think about particular parts of your website (or prototype created in Axure) where you wish to collect feedback. Which part is the most important to talk about when interacting with it?

Once you figure it out, formulate your tasks. Don’t be afraid of giving some freedom to your respondents. Unlike a questionnaire which is inherently limited by the asked questions, Think-Aloud can help you find answers to questions that you haven’t thought of. A good task should have an easy-to-understand objective without mentioning, any necessary steps to achieve it. Think-Aloud can reveal whether respondents understand your tasks and website.

Your can create a study with the Think-Aloud feature in RePlay Tasks. RePlay Tasks allows you to give respondents tasks to complete while recording everything what respondents say. A great benefit of this tool is that testers don’t need to install or upload anything, so it’s even more easier for your website visitors to participate in your study. 

Activating Think-Aloud in your study

The Think-Aloud feature in RePlay Tasks can be implemented within seconds. Go to the Tasks tab in the setup of your study. Use the switch on the right side to toggle Think-Aloud on. Now, your study can record the participants’ voices. Think-Aloud works on any kind of device – desktop, tablet or smartphone, as long as the browser supports the MediaRecorder, MediaStream and AudioContext APIs (click the links to learn which browsers support these APIs).

Let us give you some more recommendations that will help you to bring the best out of Think-Aloud.

Not every potential tester may be able to (or willing) to record their voice. Some may have a broken microphone, others may be worried about their privacy. It depends on your study to deal with these people. If Think-Aloud is crucial for your research, make Think-Aloud mandatory in your study. Respondents who won’t allow access to their microphone, simply won’t be allowed to continue with the study. However, if Think-Aloud is not so important (e.g., if you’re more interested in the feedback gathered from questionnaires after the study) you can set Think-Aloud as optional. All respondents can then take part and decide whether their voice will be recorded or not.

Instructions for respondents

After Think-Aloud is enabled, respondents who click a link to your study will be asked to allow UXtweak to access their microphone. The mentioned step follows after the study’s initial Welcome Message. However, this doesn’t mean that respondents know that they should be thinking aloud – or even how your recording works. The mentioned drawbacks can be easily overcome with some good encouraging instructions.

The Welcome Message should explain to a respondent why their voice will be recorded and what they should expect.  It is also beneficial to explain Think-Aloud and its importance to your study in the study’s instruction. In this manner, you assure your respondents that you want to hear all their unfiltered thoughts and opinions.

As respondents need to understand Think-Aloud and use it, you may repeat your explanations many times in your study. Moreover, instructions for every task should insinuate to the respondent that they should be talking – “Don’t forget to speak everything that’s on your mind – What are you doing and why? How do you understand the things you see?”

Conclusion

Think-Aloud is a powerful tool which is often used in UX research. Even though it may not be a solution to every problem (for example, users don’t usually express their natural behaviour, which can impact the way they behave during a study). However, its advantages are still more significant than disadvantages, so remember our above mentioned advice, which should make your Think-Aloud studies even more successful. Lastly, being able to hear your customers’ thoughts has a convincing power that can melt the heart of even the most stubborn stakeholders and show them the importance of good UX.

Peter Demcak
May 29, 2020
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UX enthusiast working at UXtweak as UX researcher and member of the UX research tool development team.

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