Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. How to book the labs
  3. Usability/accessibility testing best practice guidelines

Usability/accessibility testing best practice guidelines

Being well prepared before the day will give you a better chance of collecting useful data in the labs.  The following best practice includes advice about conducting studies in the labs involving students, potential students and non-OU staff:

Booking your sessions

  • Arrange to visit the labs at least 2 working days before the studies are due to start to check the set-up and to discuss the detail of your requirements with the specialist support officers.
  • Consider including disabled participants in your study to fully reflect the diversity of users and their needs. 
  • Some recordings need to be processed before they become available for review. Discuss this with the Operations and Media Specialist when checking the set-up.

Preparation for sessions

  • If you are recording user interaction on the lab PC, then you need to arrive and log in to the PC at least 40 minutes before the study is due to start.  This allows time to do a test recording before the study to make sure the software engages the recording system. 
  • Please make sure that lab staff are aware of your presence in the labs, only the podcast room is a ‘drop-in’ facility which doesn’t require prior booking.
  • As part of the recruitment process participants should be informed that they will be recorded and will be asked to sign a consent form. They should also be informed if they will be observed by others. If you will be having people observing the session live from another room, inform the participant and give them the opportunity to object.
  • Arrange to meet participants at the Berrill Reception and inform Reception ( of participants’ names and approximate arrival times.
  • It is possible to reserve parking spaces for participants at Berrill visitors’ car park; book this with Security ( You may wish to block-book one space for all your participants with a generic sign such as “web site testing”. Inform participants that the space will be reserved and what the sign will say.
  • Ask your participants if they have mobility issues which would make it difficult for them to get to the labs from reception. If necessary book a parking space outside Jennie Lee building (contact Security), or provide a map and directions to enable taxi drop-off outside the building, however they must register at reception first. The OU Visitor Guide containing printed maps is available from Berrill Reception. Maps are also available online at
  • Assistive technology is available if required by participants with dyslexia or a disability, such as a screen-reader, tracker balls, alternative keyboards, large monitor, etc. Ask your participants in advance if they require such technology. If they do, discuss this with the lab manager as the recording process may need to be adjusted. IET staff can offer support in enabling disabled people to participate.
  • It can be useful to have a second person involved in the organisation of sessions to help with ‘hosting’ and taking notes, but this is not essential.
  • Please check with lab staff about disconnecting lab equipment to connect your own equipment or moving furniture around to suit your study, as they will be able to advise you about what is available and is feasible within the space.  If larger items of furniture or equipment need to be moved please arrange for the porters to do this in your set-up time.

During sessions

  • Please have consideration for other lab users regarding the amount of noise you make in the lab corridors and adjoining labs.  Remember to put a red flashing light on the door of the lab you are using to indicate that recording is in progress and that you would like others in the area to keep quiet.
  • Write your name and date and the time you plan to finish using the lab on the whiteboard beside the door(s) of the lab(s) you are using, along with the number of people who are with you in the lab.
  • Participants should be asked to sign a consent form to cover Data Protection and appropriate use of the data before the research commences. Templates are available from IET.
  • Please remember to tell participants that they are not being tested, it is the software/website/materials which are being tested, and if they are not able to find something on a site it is likely to be a flaw with the site, not a reflection of their abilities.
  • To avoid both participants and researchers becoming tired, breaks should be taken after 30-45 minutes of each session.
  • Currently the recording system starts and finishes recording sessions at 1/4 hour intervals. As far as possible keep to the schedule you have planned to avoid loss of recording or excessive over-recording.

Other sources of information

You may find the following links to external sites about good practice useful:


Contact Us


Telephone: +44(0)1908 332422

Jennie Lee Research Lab enquiries
Institute of Educational Technology
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes

The Jennie Lee Building is on the left of the campus map.

Jennie Lee Research Labs Enquiry form