Guerrilla testing is the answer to the phrase “We don’t have the time or budget to user test”. Guerrilla testing is easy way to test a website or app for usability before it goes live.

What is Guerrilla testing?

Guerrilla testing or guerrilla research is a lean and agile technique for user testing that gives you insight in as little as couple of hours, with no need for expensive equipment or a research lab.

The best thing is there’s no need to recruit users or worry about scheduling and cancellations. You just ambush unknowing participants (nicely of course!) on the streets or in cafes or wherever you may find people and get them to try and test out your designs.

Guerrilla testing has its limitations, it’s not as extensive as a full-blown user testing, and because of this, the purpose of the test should be well defined. It should answer the why and the what.

Why are you conducting the exercise and what data do you want to gather? Make a short list of your guerrilla testing questions and other observations you want to collect.

Guerrilla testing tips

We spoke to one of our UX mentors Lara Marsh and have highlighted some challenges she faced when conducting user testing in the “wild”.

This isn’t an extensive list or guerrilla testing guide but here is some of what she learned from her experiences. It will hopefully help you in your next guerrilla test.

Be prepared

Prepare the gadgets you’ll be using and for the unexpected to happen during the test. Make sure you pack the right gear, laptop, smartphones, battery pack, power banks and other stuff you’ll need.

The unexpected could be anything from communication problems with participants (coming from experience with tourists), to trouble finding a Wi-Fi connection. Be prepared for their own questions as well.

Don’t rely on the internet

Whether you have 3G/4G and access to your prototypes it’s still best to have a backup plan.  Don’t rely on an internet connection of any kind if you can.

If the prototype can be accessed offline, all the better.

Present your designs clearly

One reason to test outdoors is to be able to see how people may respond to your UI in context. One difficulty with rough designs is that B&W or grey designs don’t stand out with participants.

Testing how readable a design is in the daylight before heading out to talk to users can be helpful. In other words, test before testing!

Avoid the crowds

Crowds of people make testing tricky. Instead stick to one or two people away from the hustle and bustle because they are easier to deal with than a large group.

Too many people giving feedback and talking at the same times is a disaster for a data gatherer. It’s confusing and hard to extract really useful data or results.

It’s also difficult for a large group to see the screen and for you to see their actual reaction to the UI.

Incentives

Give your participants incentives such as food or beverages for participating in your experiment. Whether they are in a rush, doing something or just standing on a street corner or sitting in a cafe, you’re still taking their time and food or beverages are good incentives and thoughtful.

Summary

As a recap, know what you want from your Guerilla testing. It’s agile, lean and economical for a reason.

Because it has its limitations compared to a full blown user testing experiment, make the most out of it. Define your parameters, test it yourself first, be prepared for the onslaught of the unexpected and be brave!


Chris Mears

Chris is co-founder of UXmentor.me. He has worked with clients such as the UK government, Just Eat & Which? with a focus on service design and transformation.