Guerrilla UX Research Practices

Guerrilla UX research empowers designers to gather valuable insights quickly and affordably. It's people-focused and inherently human-centered.

Posted on Mar 20, 2023

Great design thrives on understanding users interacting with our products and services. Traditional research methods can be effective but often require significant resources, time, and budget - a challenge for smaller teams or projects with limited means. Guerrilla UX research offers a practical, people-centric alternative that brings us closer to users while providing quick, affordable strategies to gain valuable insights.

In this article, we'll dive into guerrilla UX research practices and demonstrate how they empower you to gather actionable data, enhance your designs, and, ultimately, forge deeper connections with the people who matter most.

Guerrilla UX research focuses on the individuals we're designing for, emphasizing the speedy acquisition of user feedback and insights through simple, adaptable research methods. These practices in real-world environments enable designers to identify potential design challenges and improvement opportunities without the need for detailed planning, extensive resources, or large sample sizes.

Five Methods to Implement a Guerrila UX Practice.

Pub Testing.

Head to a busy pub or coffee shop and engage with people who represent your target audience. Offer a small incentive, like a coffee, in exchange for their time to test your product. Observe their interactions with your design, and encourage them to vocalize their thoughts as they navigate the interface. This approach can help you uncover usability issues, gather feedback on the overall user experience, and strengthen the connection between your product and its users.

Informal Interviews.

Engaging in genuine conversations with potential users, friends, or colleagues can lead to a deeper understanding of your product or service from their perspectives. Conduct these interviews face-to-face, over the phone, or through video calls. Ask open-ended questions to learn about their needs, preferences, and experiences. Take notes and seek patterns and recurring themes to inform your design improvements, making your product more meaningful to users.

Card Sorting.

This straightforward technique provides insight into how users categorize and organize information. Write your product's key features, functions, or content elements on index cards, and ask users to sort these cards into groups or categories that make sense to them. Understanding your target audience's thought process allows you to shape your information architecture and design decisions to resonate with them.

First-click Testing.

Evaluate the effectiveness of your website or app's navigation by presenting users with a specific task or scenario. Have them perform the action as they would on the live product. Record their first click, and analyze the data to determine if your navigation effectively guides users in the right direction. This method can reveal areas where your navigation may need clarification or better alignment with user expectations, fostering a more seamless and enjoyable user experience.

A/B Testing.

Create two versions of a design element (e.g., a button, headline, or layout) and present them to users. Monitor user interactions with each version, comparing the results to determine which performs better. This data-driven approach allows you to optimize the user experience, ensuring that your design choices align with the needs and desires of your audience.

Mobility and Portability.

The Guerrilla UX Lab capitalizes on the impressive advancements in mobile technology to bring usability testing directly to users, wherever they may be. For instance, modern smartphones and tablets boast powerful computing capabilities, high-resolution screens, and exceptional cameras, making them the perfect tools for capturing user feedback in natural settings.

With the growth of mobile internet speeds, cloud-based screen recording software, and collaboration tools have become accessible, enabling researchers to store, share, and analyze data efficiently. Compact, noise-canceling microphones ensure high-quality audio recordings in diverse environments, providing a more accurate understanding of user experiences.

These technological advancements revolutionize usability testing, making it more agile, adaptable, and accessible. By harnessing the power of mobile technology, the Guerrilla UX Lab enables designers to connect with users, gather meaningful insights, and create impactful designs that resonate with and enhance people's lives.

How the Big Guys Do It.

Emphasizing the importance of user experience, leading companies like Facebook, Google, Airbnb, Mailchimp, Dropbox, Uber, Slack, Spotify, Microsoft, and Amazon have successfully employed guerrilla UX research practices. By adopting agile, low-cost strategies, these industry giants remain connected with their users and prioritize human-centered design, demonstrating the effectiveness of such techniques across various scales and sectors.

For example, Google Ventures uses a sprint methodology that includes guerrilla UX research techniques to help their portfolio companies refine their products. The Google Ventures team has developed a five-day sprint process involving rapid prototyping, user testing, and iteration, aiming to quickly validate product ideas and minimize risk. This approach has helped companies like Nest and Blue Bottle Coffee develop successful products that meet user needs and desires.

Airbnb, Dropbox, and Spotify have employed guerrilla research methods such as intercept interviews, live intercepts in public places, and on-the-spot testing to gather user feedback and understand the needs of their customers. By conducting these quick interviews and tests in real-world environments, these companies can gain valuable insights into how people use their platforms and identify areas for improvement.

These examples demonstrate that even large and well-established companies recognize the value of guerrilla UX research methods to quickly and effectively gather user feedback and insights. By implementing these practices, they can make data-driven design decisions and create products and services that resonate with their target audience.


Guerrilla UX research practices are practical and inherently user-centered, offering designers a means to gain rapid, affordable insights into user needs and preferences. By embracing these methods, you can gather invaluable data to guide your design decisions, crafting products that truly resonate with your target audience.

Although guerrilla UX research may not completely replace more in-depth research methods, it serves as a valuable supplement or starting point for teams with limited time or resources, constantly reminding us to begin with the user and prioritize human connection.

When we place the user at the center of our design process, we're not just creating functional products—we're crafting experiences that hold meaning, evoke emotions, and make a difference in people's lives. Guerrilla UX research helps us stay connected to the people who use our products, ensuring that our design choices address their needs and expectations.


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