One important thing that must be addressed when doing user testing are the ethical considerations. These are the aspects that relate to how the user doing the testing is treated and how they might possibly feel as a result of the testing.
It is likely that the person testing the system can get the impression that it is them who is being tested, and not the system itself. This is quite easy to believe, especially if the testing involves the person being video recorded, along with them being either directly observed by a person sitting beside them, or through one-way glass. Landay tells of how users have left user testing sessions in tears as a result of the pressure they felt and their frustration with and embarrassment from not being able to use the application they were testing.
The user testing participants must be aware that participation is voluntary and that they are able to leave at any time they wish to, as well as being allowed to take breaks as they need them. Ideally, a user test should last no more than one or two hours . Aspects of the environment that the user is in need to be considered as well; you make the user physically comfortable. The aim is to get the participant sufficiently relaxed so that they behave as normally as possible, thus giving a real indication of how the system would be used in the ``real world.'' If the environment is set up properly, the participants' comments will relate to the application and not external factors.
For the testing of this system, an entire session with a single user would take about an hour. This time includes an introduction to the system, the testing of the system, and then the oral and written questionnaire. Over this hour long period, it was casually noticed that after about forty minutes the user is likely to start getting bored or frustrated with problems that they might be having. This time did vary somewhat, though, depending on the amount of trouble they were having and the degree of enthusiasm that they had towards taking part in the testing.
Some organisations require formal ethical approval before allowing any user testing to take place. In the ethical proposal, the researcher sets out what they propose to do and how they have addressed the possible issues that may arise as a result of their testing. At the University of Otago, where this research was carried out, researchers must go through an approval process before being allowed to do user testing. These steps involve the researcher submitting a document outlining the process of the testing that they intend to do, detailing the intended treatment of the participants, confidentiality, informed consent, the participant's right to withdraw and the intended use of the data gathered. The ethical statement prepared is included in Appendix .
In accordance with these rules a consent form was created, reproduced in Appendix C, for the participants to read and sign. It outlined what they were going to be doing and what was going to happen to them. It described the conditions under which the testing was going to be done, and what was going to be done with the information gathered. As each participant's activities were video taped, it was explained that the purpose of the video camera was to record the screen and that the tapes were to be later reviewed to gather information about the behaviour of the system. A monitor connected to the video camera allowed them to see that only the screen was being recorded. The participants were also informed of the points covered in the consent form verbally.