1) As a user, think aloud taught me to be more critical of the actions I was taking. By verbalising my thoughts I was more able to asses which user interface components I was drawn too first, and interacting with. Normally, I have the end goal only in mind, and the steps to get there are often lost of forgotten as i tried things. Speaking it allowed also helped me to weigh up the options presented to me. The greatest insights were the alternate ways of searching for the tablet for example. I realised I began by searching for iPads, then selecting the tablet category on the side, rather than trawling through a list of categories from the home page. I realised there were other alternative ways that could have been faster than the route I chose.
As an observer, I discovered that participants’e choices in navigating interfaces were different from mine. Eventually the participant exhausted all options in attempting to find the required item on the university of Sydney website. As an observer, one can tell when frustration begins when the participant stars language pertaining to giving up for being over the task and not wishing to continue. At the start it’s “can I give up?”, these statements increase to “I think I’m going to have to give up”, and having totally exhausted options they complete with “I give up / I fail”. Mouse movements and calmness decrease whilst agitation increase towards giving up. The most useful insights here were how users react, and how their frustration builds when interfaces are not easy to use, it’s a downwards spiral.
2) As far as think aloud goes, what worked best was allowing me to think of alternate ways to use the interface to achieve the goal each step of the way. It made me question what I was doing. From a listening perspective, it allowed me to understand the testers perception of the current user interface and what they think it’s purpose is, and what steps they can take next to move forwards towards their goal.
What was frustrating was that sometimes when you’re working something out, and it’s quite confusing, it’s extra confusing to try to explain it at the same time. Sometimes I prefer to have worked a set of interface steps out first, then explain what that means. Of course, by me explaining something incorrectly could be valuable information for the researcher in that the part I was explaining incorrectly wasn’t terribly clear.