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My product team is trying to break down the constraints of our product's current app experience, and start looking at it with a fresh, first principles approach. We think we have an idea for a new framework that could be scalable across the app and its multiple features.

What are some best practices for doing quick research in just a few days, to either validate or invalidate this framework concept before building a rough prototype to test? Additionally, once we have an early version of the concept in visual form, how can we test as quickly as possible?

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It will depend on many variables. As a whole, let's start with Guerrilla Testing concept:

Participants are not recruited but are ‘approached’ by those persons conducting the sessions. The sessions themselves are short, typically between 15-30 minutes and are loosely structured around specific key research objectives. The output is typically ‘qualitative’ so insight is often rich and detailed.

Anyone on the service team can conduct ‘guerrilla testing’ on their site or service but often the best scenario is for a researcher to run the sessions with the designer or developer. The researcher can help with defining the tasks, moderating the sessions as well as provide a level of ‘objectivity’ by not being the person who designed or built what is being evaluated. Involving the designer / developer in the sessions enables them to see first hand ‘real’ people interacting with their product, where there are areas for improvement and how they might go about resolving any issues.

This approach also does away with any lengthy reporting back. Insights can be observed, taken away and fed back into the design process almost immediately. However, a brief summary with key findings and recommendations can be written up as a more formal record. It is a method that suits the ‘agile framework’ well.

Based on this , you can see the methodological procedure to follow is to grab a bunch of people and show them what you got in order to get qualitative answers.

However, as good as this methodology is, there are some caveats, being the main ones distraction, lack of focus and last but not least, possible inaccurate targets. In your particular situation, it is possible this last one might be your main issue since you'll probably need some degree of expertise from your participants.

With this in mind, my recommendation would be to get access to people loosely matching your target, which you can do by:

  • Approaching people in colleges
  • Asking for help on specialised forums
  • Contacting peers and colleagues in your area or online (assuming remote testing is a suitable methodology for your purposes)

As an example, take a look to this Apple Watch Guerrilla Testing article which can give you some ideas on procedures as well as when and where to conduct this research

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Any type of testing you do will be defined by the sample size and methodology that you accept in order to establish your level of confidence for the results. Guerilla testing is to do with the methodology rather than the sample size, although typically you will only do this with a smaller number of participants (surprise volunteers).

I think you need to take the results from guerilla testing with a grain of salt because typically it is not necessarily used to rule out or introduce ideas, but more so to get a feel for whether you are on the right track. I'd hate to think that you want to use guerilla testing to validate ideas as it probably requires a slightly more rigorous process if you want to be confident about the likelihood of the result being a true reflection of the user group.

Now getting back to your question (sorry about the tedious disclaimer), I think that guerilla testing is often misinterpreted as being 'informal' testing, much in the same way that people think agile is an unstructured process. I believe that in guerilla testing you are just adjusting your methodology/procedure so it is a little bit more flexible than typical testing where the subjects are screened and the procedure for collection information from users is more controlled. In the end, you still need to be able to document and report back on your results, and possible compare it with other guerilla tests.

So my best tip for a guerilla testing methodology is to come up with a full testing process, then apply lean and agile thinking to strip it down to what is feasible for your testing purposes.

  • Hey Michael, Thank you for your reply! I think I used the word "validate" incorrectly here. The objectives of using guerrilla testing at this point are to a) Test the idea with non users who potentially might use our product to see if it makes sense b) Test comparatively next to the current (and reportedly, confusing) UI to see how they perform against each other c) Determine whether to move forward in further building prototypes and testing, if we are indeed on the right track with our ideas. – Malia Eugenio Apr 8 '16 at 18:54
  • I am currently coming up with a preliminary testing plan, so that the process is documented and as we continue to test with a variety of methodologies, we can more easily identify the patterns and find where the results inform each other. – Malia Eugenio Apr 8 '16 at 18:55

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