If you are a product manager in this day and age, you are likely to consider guerrilla usability testing as a powerful technique for testing your concept effectively and within a short time frame. It is a quick and inexpensive way of testing prototypes, mobile apps, or websites with real users.
Why try this technique?
The advantage of guerrilla testing is that you don’t have to search for and recruit a specific target audience, and there is no need to use expensive research facilities. Besides, this technique allows you to conduct multiple usability tests during a project run, so you will be able to identify any UX barriers early in the process. Such iterative testing approach is widely being used especially in agile project management.
How to run a guerrilla user testing?
Normally, the participants are approached in public places (e.g. coffee shops) and are asked to take part in quick user research. They are offered a cup of coffee and some sweets, and the whole session can last for only 10-15 minutes. The number of users you need depends on what you are testing, but usually, 6-12 users are asked to participate.
Planning a guerrilla usability testing
Guerilla testing is meant to be ad hoc, but it should be well-planned. Start with yourself — you are the representative of your product. Plan how you come across — that will affect how people will respond to your questions.
To start, create a plan for your guerrilla research session. The activities listed below could be a part of your plan:
1/ Decide when and how you will conduct the testing and who will participate.
2/ Create a UX research checklist and choose the right research method.
3/ Think over how you’ll describe your product and prepare the description.
4/ Nail down your introduction and plan how much time you’re going to devote to each person.
5/ Prepare the legend for the tester to read.
6/ Prepare a realistic product prototype, even a semi-functioning one.
7/ Create smart scenarios — a good one describes a problem for participants to solve.
8/ Set the testing priorities — it is impossible to test everything at once. Choose your top three of the tasks for testing and focus on them.
9/ Prepare the incentives (e.g. candy, cookies, tea and coffee).
10/ Think over other test assets (e.g. software, recording devices, and camera).
Pay special attention to the choice of the right location — you need the one where your target audience spends most of the time. But try not to conduct guerrilla testing in the same types of places too often, as any place invites only a certain type of people. Changing locations will ensure you a more varied audience, which is exactly what you need.
Approaching test subjects
Initially you might have trouble approaching random people. Don’t worry, it only takes a couple of attempts to get accustomed to the whole thing.
You can also stick to the 5-step formula below, when approaching test participants:
Then you can tell them about the testing purpose and research objectives, using your prepared introduction and product description. You have to be concise — your time is strictly limited.
During the testing be armed with questions you will be asking your potential or actual users.
Always start with open-ended, non-leading questions, e.g.:
What do you make of this? What would you do on this screen? How would you do that?
These kinds of questions will encourage participants to tell a loose story about their product perception.
Be consistent with your questions, but remember, that guerrilla usability testing is very much about adapting to the situation. A detailed plan will guide you, but it will not fully protect you from any unpredictable situations. The lack of a controlled environment is one of the most significant differences between a guerrilla testing and a regular user testing.
Therefore, keep in mind some tips below — they will make you feel safer:
Have a backup internet in case of a weak internet connection. Besides, take additional charger cables and additional power packs with you.
Be ready to throw out some questions, if a participant decides to leave the testing session earlier.
If it is too loud, focus on the tasks that require less verbal communication.
Minimize note-taking using video or audio recording devices (of course, only with the interviewee’s permission).
In the end, don’t forget to thank users for their time.
After the testing
After the testing session, process the gathered data and user feedback — convert them into improvements or/and requirements for your product. This way, you will be able to identify any UX barriers and usability issues early in the design process. Keep in mind that this technique should be considered only a part of your overall usability testing strategy, but it might significantly help in future product development and bug fixing. To achieve great results, combine the results of guerrilla testing with other research techniques. Make testing a habit!
If you need to test your product usability within a short time frame, you might find helpful our Guerrilla Usability Testing template.
It provides an example of a product launch project, which you can easily adjust to your needs.
How to use this template?
Create a new project and choose the Guerrilla Usability Testing template as the starting point. All Infolio templates include some demo content. Feel free to remove it once you've got acquainted with the concept.
The tasks are organized by the steps of the guerrilla testing process from planning to evaluation: "General", "Test Planning", "Test Assets", and "Test Results". Example tasks provide general guidance, but you don't have to be too strict about it.
Group tasks by Status to see your activity progress ("In progress", "Questionable", "Need to plan", "Ready"). In this view you can easily add new statuses to your workflow or rearrange existing ones. Change the status of any task by dragging and dropping it to the corresponding column.
To see how tasks are distributed within your team, group the project by Assignee. In this view you can reassign tasks quickly by dragging and dropping them between columns.
If you need any further help or if you have suggestions about how to improve
this template, don't hesitate to let us know!