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Part: III Appendixes > Ethical Considerations

Ethical Considerations

Tests can be a grueling experience for some people. Participants have been known to leave in tears, embarrassed by their mistakes or their inability to complete the tasks successfully. You have a responsibility to alleviate these kinds of problems. One way is to avoid pressuring people to participate. You need to get participants' informed consent regarding the subject matter of the test, and then make it clear that the test is voluntary and that participants can stop the test at any time for any reason (see Appendix C—Sample Consent Form). You also need to stress that you're testing the Web site and not the participants themselves, and that they are really helping you by finding problems with the site. If they are having problems, then it is the Web site's fault, not theirs.

If other people will see the collected data, then the data should also be made as anonymous as possible. Names and other pieces of identifying information should be removed, and people's faces should be blurred out in any pictures and video footage. In some cases a videotape of a person struggling with a human–computer interface has been played for an audience that included that very person! Making the data anonymous will help prevent any potentially awkward situations in the future.


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