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Your Guide to Guerrilla Research

Your Guide to Guerrilla Research

As many organisations understand the value of user research, smaller organisations have started to use guerrilla research to move fast during a design project, test ideas, and gather significant UX insights. I mean, who doesn’t feel great to step out of work to talk to the users to figure out what makes them tick? This level of informality in guerrilla research also appeals to many.

The term guerrilla is borrowed from the Spanish word Guerra that describe strategic armed civilian. The term started gaining notoriety in the early 1800s and has been associated with a form of warfare that represents unusual militaristic combat. In UX, Guerrilla research is an economical version of user research to gather insights from the user by following a less rigid research methodology, primarily conducted in public spots like metros, cafes, and libraries. And to do so, one has to end up decreasing the scope. The key to successful guerrilla research is to create a balance between time and budget goals yet be rigorous enough to collect relevant feedback.

There are many advantages to guerrilla research, such as:
● One can use guerrilla research as a cost-effective approach, particularly when compared to user research costs.
● One can get an immediate answer to a question they pose to the user, making the process effortless.
● Guerrilla research can help gain insight by talking to real users rather than theorising about their answers.
● Guerrilla research is flexible, allowing one to get answers from the user at any time in the project timeline.
● One can gather comprehensive data from the users through guerrilla user testing on a new prototype, assuming that one can find many users.

As I have already mentioned guerrilla research, let me tell you about: how to use the guerilla method efficiently, how to run guerilla testing and guerilla ethnography.

Let’s go!

How to use the Guerilla method efficiently?

One must understand that the goal of the guerilla method of guerrilla research for individuals, teams and organisations is to get the desired results to aid implementation. To get the most out of guerrilla research convincing stakeholders and other participants, here are eight pointers to follow:

Planning is crucial

Guerrilla research is a quick method to gather data. However, it requires proper planning and meticulous implementation.

Keep things simple

The questionnaire for guerrilla research has to be simple, making sessions around 15 minutes at max.

Don’t be biased

One should be professional enough not to approach their friends and family, making the research unbiased.

Establish ideal users

Since these participants are not carefully recruited. Therefore, the researcher must define their users who can be approached and figure out the best way to reach them. T

Work on approach

One should be friendly enough to be recognised, create an engaging script and offer participants a freebie.

Pick your spots carefully

Choose spots that are close to the context of use. Participants should not be approached in a way that may affect their capability to respond without prejudice.

Consider the environment

Be mindful of the environmental factors that might affect the research, like rain, snowfall etc.

Be flexible

Modify tactics based on circumstances at hand, making the process more iterative.

Guerilla research is ideal when design teams need instantaneous input from users to implement the data correctly.

How to run guerilla testing?

When people google guerrilla research, they also end up reading about guerrilla user testing. Unlike other UX testing techniques, guerrilla user testing can assess how efficient an interface is by gathering the user’s responses through its visual design and functionality. Guerrilla user testing is unique because participants are not recruited in advance than other UX testing techniques. Instead, participants are chosen from the general populace by the researchers conducting the study during live intercepts in places like malls, cafés etc. Like guerrilla research, guerrilla user testing is also a quick and hassle-free way to gather user feedback.

Guerrilla user testing is structured around critical research objectives in a design project. Yet, those objectives are flexible and can be adjusted according to the evolution of the project. Guerrilla user testing typically requires fewer participants allowing enough time for a thorough assessment of everyone’s behaviour. These sessions last for 15 minutes at max, making it relatively low maintenance.

The process of guerrilla user testing goes like this:

● The participants are given a series of tasks to accomplish.
● The researcher will record any issues that occur during the test.
● The only equipment needed is a computer or handheld device to administer the test.
● One can use a screen recorder to record participants’ responses, saving both time and resources. However, it is better to have a moderator present to observe the participants’ body language and reactions.

Remember, guerrilla user testing should be performed when the design project calls for quick and economical testing – to validate assumptions at the beginning of the project life cycle or when the project is a low budget one.

Guerilla ethnography

Let me start with the meaning of the term Ethnography. It is a qualitative research study examining the various social interactions in a user’s environment, providing an in-depth understanding of the user’s views and actions, which includes the multiple things they see and the sounds they hear during their day. It is a long process that might often take months to accomplish. However, at times researchers randomly observe the public in their natural setting. This attempt to swiftly learn about usage conditions based on research objectives in public places is called guerilla ethnography.

Guerilla ethnography often blends understandings from environment-focused research techniques, including indirect participant observation or learning through physical traces. It helps the researchers understand:
● What kind of products people are using.
● The environment in which these products are being used.

This way, the researchers can step into the user’s shoes and gain an immersive experience first-hand. Guerilla ethnography is not very systematic, making the sessions short, just like in guerrilla research. Guerilla ethnography is also used by the researcher to quickly understand the range of touchpoints the user is willing to engage with.

Also, lt me clarify one last thing: there is no such thing as Guerrilla Persona! Provisional personas are used for guerrilla user testing, but they get updated after data is gathered to make them look more valid.

Conclusion
One must remember that guerrilla research is – focused, fast and frugal. It is just an alternative user research method to collect relevant feedback, which many organisations miss. Guerrilla research is also an effective method to understand how the general populace would interact with the product. Guerrilla research has become an essential practice for many organisations irrespective of budgets or timelines.

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