Guerrilla Usability Testing

Learn the basics of guerrilla usability testing, what it is, how to conduct it and what are the drawbacks of such approach.

Author: Daria Krasovskaya

Reviewed by: Marek Strba Marek Strba

Last update 24.05.2023

Guerrilla usability testing is a popular and untraditional way of obtaining feedback on your future product. In this chapter of the guide you’ll find everything you need to know about conducting this type of study. But first, let’s cover the basics.

What is guerrilla usability testing?

Guerrilla usability testing is a UX research method used to assess a website/app or prototype in order to identify potential UX issues and uncover hidden ideas for improvement. 

This type of testing can be performed using different methods, however, the approach is always the same. The goal is to skip all the formalities of a classical usability test, get out on the streets and ask random people to test your product. 

The greatest benefit of guerrilla usability testing is that it can be conducted anywhere, be it a cafe, a park, or a busy street and it doesn’t require any additional spending on research equipment and recruiting.

guerrilla usability testing

Who needs guerrilla usability testing?

Anyone who wants to uncover basic usability issues and find out people’s opinions on the design or functionality of the product. Guerrilla usability testing is a perfect approach for small projects that are on a budget as it’s a fast, cheap and efficient method of obtaining elementary insights. 

However, for deeper research and higher-quality feedback, we recommend taking a look at other usability testing methods

When to perform the test?

We recommend performing guerrilla testing early at the product’s lifecycle. 

The best time to try is before the development begins. This testing approach requires a lot of context as people you’re testing on the street probably know nothing about your future product. That’s why, it’s great to test when you already have an interactive prototype and the UI designed, together with all the colors and copy. 

This will be closest to the real life situation of people using the product. And since it’s still a prototype, during the test you’ll be able to spot usability issues that are still easy to fix.

Guerrilla testing can be also very useful when you’re planning a redesign of an existing product. 

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How to encourage people to participate?

A great way to motivate your potential testers is to offer some type of incentive. This could be a coupon or a discount, such as an Amazon gift card, for example.

If you decide to test in a cafe or a coffee shop, offer a cup of coffee or any other drink to everyone who decides to participate. 

The main drawbacks of guerrilla testing

Even though it sounds like a great cheap method to validate your product, guerrilla testing also has its drawbacks. 

The first and the most obvious one is the lack of targeting. The people you meet randomly on the street may not be the ideal target audience of your product so they can hardly represent the needs and wants of your product’s end users. 

Another significant drawback is the lack of time to perform the test. People who decide to spend their time outside will not always be ready to devote much of their time to a complete stranger performing the test. Be aware of that and try to make your test as quick and straight to the point as possible.

Guerrilla usability testing methods

There are many testing methods you can choose when working with the guerrilla approach. However, some of the quickest ones and the most effective are: 

The one you decide to choose will always depend on the goals of your study and the type of information you’d like to obtain. 

To learn more about what method to choose, check out this article where we explain each of them in depth: Guerrilla Usability Testing Methods

How to conduct guerrilla usability testing?

  1. Define your goal
  2. Prepare the prototype
  3. Write tasks and questions for the test 
  4. Choose a place and approach the testers
  5. Take notes, analyze and improve

guerrilla usability testing

Define your goal

Pick a clear and specific goal that you want to achieve with your study. Given that you won’t have a lot of time, there’s only room for 1-3 tasks at most. So pick your goals wisely. 

Try to focus on testing some of the most important functionalities of your product. For example, if you’re testing an e-shop, your goal could be to find out if people are able to easily checkout their purchase.

Prepare the prototype

As we mentioned above, it’s important to make sure that your prototype is interactive and doesn’t lack any important parts of the UI design. You can, obviously, try and conduct your test using paper prototypes, but it would be rather more efficient to test a digital clickable version of it. You can make a free interactive prototype on platforms like Figma.  

To make your test even more efficient you’ll need an online usability testing tool at hand. Using one will allow you to easily interact with the participants, collect insights and analyze data later.

Write tasks and questions for the test

Based on the goals you selected, it’s time to define the appropriate tasks for the test. Remember, that they should be actionable, realistic and representative of real-life user scenarios.

Try to not include more than 3 tasks in the test. You don’t want it to take too long and annoy the participants. 

guerrilla usability testing

Choose a place and approach the testers

There’s a wide variety of spots where you can conduct your guerrilla usability test. Try to look out for places where there are enough people like a busy street, a park at the city center or your local cafe. 

You can even try to target a specific demographic by altering the time of the day when your study is going to take place as well as the district of the city or a type of the cafe.

Take notes, analyze and improve

This step is not going to be a problem when you decide to use a usability testing tool like UXtweak to help you with the study. It collects all the data obtained from the test and stores it in one place together with the session recordings of participants completing the tasks. 

This way you’re always able to come back to it later, freshen up things in your mind and inform future design decisions.

UXtweak also makes it extremely easy to share your findings with colleagues and stakeholders. You can generate a custom PDF report of each of your studies which will include all the obtained data visualized in colorful graphs, tables and handy diagrams.