How can think-aloud tests be used to create unique insights?

In this blog post I will focus on one of the methods I practice when conducting user-friendliness tests, commonly referred to as think-aloud test.

Whether it's a website, app or webshop, user involvement plays a bigger and bigger role! It is important to incorporate user perspectives in the development of our customers' digital solutions.

Last autumn we conducted a number of user tests for Sygeforsikringen "danmark", where I performed user tests of the prototypes based on the thinking-aloud test method.

What is a think-aloud test?

Think-aloud test is a great method highlighting potential issues with, for example, navigation, findability and iconography, but can also be used to investigate a user's relationship to a brand or site.

With think-aloud tests, I can take advantage of the interview taking place in a one-to-one format - the respondent is not disturbed by other people's opinion along the way, and I get unique insights into their perceptions and past experiences with, for instance, a brand.

A think-aloud test has become a ‘usability classic’ - namely because of the combination of interview and behavioral observations, and we always perform our tests in our usability lab, where our customers can track what happens from the opposite side of a one-way mirror and through video footage.

How does a think-aloud test take place?

A think-aloud test consists, roughly speaking, of at least 3 parts. An introductory part, through which I try to create a picture of the person's general life-style through dialogue. I do this to be able to put their behavior under test into a more precise profile, and then contextualize the respondent's perceptions of the brand or concept.

Then the respondent interacts with the digital solution -  controlling mouse and keyboard, while I guide him/her through a number of tasks, observing his/her reactions, and asking questions to hear his/her thoughts on the elements we are going through - hence the name think-aloud-test!

Lastly, I gather the user's experience in a final interview, where I get the respondent to sum up his/her thoughts and encourage him/her to relate intellectually to the experience. This type of test always creates good results.

All surveys are concluded with a report that summarizes and prioritizes the insights - and provides operational recommendations for implementation. We usually conclude the project with a workshop - or meeting where I review the report and the results for the stakeholders that may be in the company.

We like to include at least 5 or 6 users, as surveys show that this number creates the most valid results, revealing 85% to 90% of user-friendliness issues.

Get solid, and hands-on results

For Sygeforsikringen "danmark" the analysis contributed to concrete changes in the order of their sign-up flow. Changes that resulted in better conversions, based on the order of the items. The think-aloud test also led to unique insights about the perceptions and opinions of Sygeforsikringen "danmark"s brand, which in the long run can be incorporated into the entire organization's activities.

A think-aloud test can, among many things, be used to see how creative we can be in the design process without compromising our users’ interaction with the solutions we build.

If you have questions about the blog post or want more knowledge about the think-aloud-test method, you are more than welcome to contact me.


Nanna Gelineck 
Senior Insights Consultant