What kinds of information and insights did it give you about the usability of the prototype?
Think aloud – The user is asked to provide verbal feedback while performing a designated task with the prototype, users are required to verbalize their thoughts and interact with prototype simultaneously so the observer could pick up responds from users on a subconscious level by knowing how they feel at the moment. As a observer i find that even a single word uttered by the user can be a subtle clue to some minor or major issues of the prototype, for example when i was the observer, my group mate kept saying the word “where” and “not again” while surfing the site, at that moment we have already known that the site has poor users interface and too many pathways. By observing what they say, their body language and even the slightest facial expression, we are able to better understand the feeling and frustration of users.
As a user who were asked to evaluate the usability of the site, i found that the sites with good usability are usually simple, intuitive and well presented. I could achieve the task easily without spending too much time wandering around the site with frustration. On contrast, sites with poor usability are too complex and counter intuitive, for example, the booking system in Seymour sites is a bit confusing, the booking button is not clear on the front page, it takes sometimes for the me to locate it, another annoying aspect is that you must be a registered member to book online, so you have to fill out the tedious registration form before you make the payment, the whole experience may be a lot smoother if they allow you to check out as a guest which is common on making online purchase.
What aspects of the technique worked well or were frustrating?
Some people may find it difficult when being asked to speak out their thoughts while doing something, since it is like doing a self-talk publicly, they have to overcome the shyness and the feeling of being silly. Sometimes people are talking too fast which makes recording what they have said difficult. Moreover, think aloud requires the user to be fully concentrate since they are interacting with the prototype and providing feedback simultaneously, which may be demanding for some people. Nonetheless, i think that it is a valuable tool for designer to better understand the user experience.