Guerrilla testing pros and cons?


Hello amazing UXers! I’m not a UXer by trade but I’m currently helping out with user testing for a project my team is working on.

We’ve been talking about some guerrilla usability testing on a prototype - we’re working on an online shop, but the client also has a physical space, so we thought we would try and catch people there. Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts on whether this is current good practice or anything like that? Obviously it’s not as rigorous as something like a moderated usability test but logistically it’s much easier to manage as we don’t have to worry about finding people, scheduling them, people not showing up etc.

I’ve been doing a bit of research on the interwebs, but if anyone has any experience/advice/resources to offer, I’d appreciate it!

TIA :slight_smile:


Hi Natassja,
personally I would strongly suggest Guerrilla testing for two main reasons:

  1. the user is in a neutral environment so she/he would not be intimidated by the “formal test environment”, plus she/he would not be hired for the test, so would not try to please the tester or try to demonstrate something. The gift usually is given at the end, to thank for the time.

  2. Guerrilla testing is a cheap and effective way to find the major issue in the interface/system.
    It’s not the definitive solution but it’s really helpful and could give surprising and inspiring results.

Of course it has a lot of cons, it’s difficult to find the correct target, even if you’ll perform it in the same store of which you’re designing the webstore.

The tester should be careful in approaching people in the right way, usually is simpler in a places in which people is sat (as a cafe or similar) and is not going or doing something.

It Is important to choose the right time in the day and the right day in the week to try to find the correct target, it is important to chat a bit with them to build a basic relationship, it’s important to introduce them into the task without influence their behaviours because they could be totally “illitterate” in that particular system/device, it is important to find the right gift because it should look like a thank and not a payment (e.g. typically in a cafe the tester offer a coffe and a pastry or a breakfast, in a shop a 10% discount giftcard and so on).

Moreover it’s a bit more complicated to analyse the results, the observer should be trained, usually you can’t record the users while they perform the tasks. And the facial expressions are a greater feedback than the words.

That’s in short (and I’m not sure as clear I’ve been) anyway I strongly suggest you to try.



I’ve done testing before and we used students, while they were great to run through the functionality, they were not the target market, so we had to keep this in mind.

Also I’d mention to the client about doing some basic testing. If there are serious problems identified, then you will need some commitment from them that the changes will be done. Its best to tee this up in advance.

Definitely screen/audio record the test if possible, makes a really compelling case for changes afterwards.

Good Luck



That’s a good point Paddy. Many projects I have worked on, stakeholders have been excited about user testing, but not for the right reasons. They do it to check it off a list, so they can say, “Aren’t we great? We did user testing. Done.”

But when the results show functionality and usability issues that require further design (or development) which could push out the deadline and budget, that freaks people out. You need to set expectations when testing; the results could mean changes to the project, and that it’s actually a good thing when they do.