Thinking aloud allows you to understand how the user approaches the interface and what considerations the user keeps in mind when using the interface. If the user expresses that the sequence of steps dictated by the product to accomplish their task goal is different from what they expected, perhaps the interface is convoluted.
Although the main benefit of the thinking aloud protocol is a better understanding of the user's mental model and interaction with the product, you can gain other benefits as well. For example, the terminology the user uses to express an idea or function should be incorporated into the product design or at least its documentation.
Dumas, JS, and Redish, Janice, A Practical Guide to Usability Testing, 1993, Ablex, Norwood, NJ, ISBN 0-89391-991-8 (paper)
Lindgaard, G., Usability Testing and System Evaluation: A Guide for Designing Useful Computer Systems, 1994, Chapman and Hall, London, U.K. ISBN 0-412-46100-5
Nielsen, Jakob, "Guerrilla HCI: Using Discount Usability Engineering to Penetrate the Intimidation Barrier," online Web page at http://www.useit.com/papers/guerrilla_hci.html.
Rubin, Jeffrey, Handbook
of Usability Testing, 1994, John Wiley
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ISBN 0-471-59403-2 (paper)
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