9 minutes

Guerilla testing – why one is better than none

In any organisation, securing buy-in from whoever controls the purse strings is important. As User Experience (UX) has gained prominence over the last few years, most larger businesses have made some investment in the area. However, a small number like to talk a lot about it without implementing any of the practices and techniques that make things better for users and subsequently generate value.

In these cases, getting the kind of budgets necessary for user testing can be incredibly challenging. This means that key usability decisions are made on the basis of best practice alone, with all the noise from the different stakeholders, egos and opinions that come into play in these discussions. If you’re lucky enough to have UX representation at senior levels in your business, then perhaps they can balance the discussion, but if you’re the sole UX practitioner your voice alone might not be enough.

So how do you tackle this? Especially in the case you have a HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) to contend with?

The most powerful way is to put all your stakeholders a one-way pane of glass away from their actual users and customers to see what’s really important for them. Even the HiPPO finds it difficult to argue with their users, so let them hear it directly from the horse’s mouth.

So how do you achieve this if you can’t get budgets for sustained periods of user testing and research? In reality, you sometimes have to economise by sacrificing scientifically conducted studies for a loose indication. There are a few ways you can approach this:

User Panels

Ask if you can recruit a small number of existing, friendly customers into a regular (but not too regular) set of tests and exercises. These people can either be brand advocates who are happy to feedback for free, or in exchange for a small discount on their next order. Discounts are something that financiers already cater for and might find less scary than operational expenditure.

Friends and family

We’re not specifically suggesting that you approach everyone you know personally, but people who are friendly to employees or the business as a whole often don’t mind giving their feedback and are interested in what you are doing. Depending on what you do, it might not always be appropriate to ask this group, but it’s a low-risk strategy and the worst they can say is no.

Guerilla testing

Where all else fails, you can rope in strangers to give you feedback on design decisions. Take to the streets or your local coffee shop, and ask politely if the people there can give their opinions on different options. It’s often best to keep the questions or tests very short, as people are going about their day and might be in a hurry. It’s often a bit of a long hard slog, but in our experience when people realise you’re not selling something they’re often happy to help and appreciate the novelty of being involved. You can even sweeten the deal by offering to pay for their coffee, as this small expense isn’t going to break the bank.

These methods may not be foolproof, but they introduce the user voice into discussions and start to get others in your business thinking in a user-centric way. This demonstrates the value of research, paving the way for bigger budgets in the future. The voice of even one external party should be preferable to making decisions solely based on internal discussions.

We’re happy to support you with fully fledged user research and testing or conduct some quick and dirty guerilla testing for your product or service. Why not get in touch to discuss or discover more about our Experience Design services?

the author

Larry Brangwyn

Larry is a published UX specialist with an extensive track record of creating award-winning online solutions.
Tags:Research, Testing, User Testing, UX

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