The benefits of guerrilla testing

By Hannah Clements

So it really wouldn’t be moral of us to push the benefits of ‘guerrilla testing’ and then remain sitting in the safe haven of the Tower Block, merrily creating things for our customers with no customer input. We want to be more of a ‘Do as I say AND as I do’ kind of team.

This type of user research is becoming an integral part of HQ Digital’s day to day work – venturing ‘out in the wild’ / Aylesbury town centre to really and truly try better understand our customers’ needs.

I’ve never had an issue talking to customers – in-fact it’s one of my favourite things to do – but as a new member of HQ Digital, a novice form builder (putting it politely) and general-life perfectionist, I was naturally nervous about taking out a form I’d created that was at such an early stage in its development.

But this really is the great thing about user research – get it in early! It’ll help reassure you you’re going in the right direction, or help reshape your design to meet its purpose – fulfilling the customer need.

With a more experienced user researcher and form designer by my side, I made the journey from the 12th floor to Aylesbury Lending Library, ready to hear the fate of my redesigned ‘Feedback and Complaints’ form.

It couldn’t have gone better! With this ‘out in the wild’ style you’re not guaranteed who you’re going to encounter – but that’s the beauty of it. We had seven willing customers ranging from students to those post-work, those who could use a laptop with their eyes closed and those who needed a little guidance. And (as if by magic) we even came across the Head of Complaints for a National Service.

Although those who were not so computer literate felt they weren’t providing us with much to take away, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Our customer needs are diverse and we must recognise that when designing our online offering.

We gathered some invaluable feedback and suggestions that we are now pursuing – which may not have been possible if we were further down the line in the design process. Once we’ve made these changes it’ll be back out into the wild to retest.

The moral of the story? It’s okay to test when something isn’t ‘perfect’. In fact, it’s much, much better.

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