When working with a limited UX budget and a brief timeline, guerrilla usability testing is a cheap and fast way to identify user trends and observe user behaviour to improve your user interface. In fact, it has been proven that simple guerrilla-style usability testing can increase conversion rates, improve customer satisfaction and retention, and reduce maintenance and project risk.
What is Guerrilla Usability Testing?
Like other usability techniques, guerrilla usability testing is a way to evaluate how effective an interface is by testing out its visual design, functionality and general message on its intended audience and capturing their responses.
What makes guerrilla usability testing unique is that participants are not recruited in advance. Instead, members of the public are approached by those conducting the study during live intercepts in cafés, libraries, and malls, or in any other natural environment.
The Process of Guerrilla Usability Testing
Guerrilla usability studies are structured around critical research objectives defined for the user research portion of a UX project. Nevertheless, they are usually flexible enough in nature so that they can be adjusted according to the evolution of the user research.
Guerrilla usability testing is relatively low maintenance. At its most basic, test participants are set a series of tasks to complete, and the research team will note any problems that occur during the test.
You should be testing on prototypes made in tools, such as Justinmind, where you can make your tests and essential or interactive as you like.
Guerrilla Usability Testing Deliverables
Guerrilla usability testing deliverables are usually qualitative rather than quantitative. The goal of this type of testing is to inform design decisions for ongoing projects and identify usability issues, rather than assess the usability of an existing interface.
Findings and insights are based on the research team’s interpretations of the participants’ responses. Here are some of the types of deliverables you can expect after a round of guerrilla usability testing, as suggested by Gavin Harris:
- A test plan document outlining the proposed test time frame and key research objectives.
- A video combining screen and participant recordings.
- A summary report covering key findings and next steps.
- A presentation covering key findings and the following steps.
Should You Perform Guerrilla Usability Testing?
Guerrilla usability testing should be performed when your project calls for quick and cheap testing, such as when you need to validate design assumptions early in the project life cycle, or in a project with a low budget.
Ad hoc user research, like the kind you can achieve through guerrilla usability studies, means avoiding recruiting ‘on spec’ participants whom you may have to travel to reach (or vice versa) or pay for their time.
However, bear in mind that ad-hoc user testing will return less accurate results, as you will not necessarily be testing your target user base. In fact, you will likely receive a mixture of users who are new to your product or the market as well as existing users.
How Will You Test?
Kicking off your guerrilla usability study is as simple as walking up to someone and asking them if they can spare a few minutes of their time.
Once someone agrees to participate, start by explaining them how the test works and how long it will take. Be as truthful as possible, i.e. if the test is going to take 15 minutes, do not tell them it will take 5.
Once you have explained the test, let them get started. Be sure to take good notes of what people say during the test. You want to record how easily they were able to complete each task, how long it took them and the number of errors they made.
Leveraging Insights From Your Guerrilla Usability Study
When your guerrilla usability study is complete, it is time to collect your data, identify usage patterns and share your findings with your team. There are several ways to share your findings, depending on your audience (for example, designers, developers and stakeholders).
Your findings from guerrilla usability testing will have a direct impact on how you implement design fixes, proceed with redesigns and ultimately how users receive your site or app.
Although guerrilla usability testing may not be the best choice for every UX project, it can be a quick and effective approach to learning more about your users concerning your interface.
Moreover, remember, usability testing is crucial to the success of your website or app, so even simple feedback from users is better than none at all.