When it comes to user research within a project, various things can happen at the outset with the client. Often, research with the users is seen as a waste of time, money or resource. Ultimately the clients just want to get a 'thing' out there and take only a limited amount of consideration and due diligence, most of which is based on business requirements.
As practitioners, we see user research and actually engaging with the user as a need, the single most important point of validation that any project requires. So what are you to do if either you're given very little time to conduct user research or the client doesn't believe there is much value in doing it? Or what if you are given time and resource to do it but you want to start it right and ensure you have a valuable foundation to build that research from?
Guerrilla: post-19th century it meant 'war' in Spanish, and now it means 'referring to actions or activities performed in an impromptu way, often without authorisation'.
You'll have heard of 'guerrilla warfare', but that isn't what this interpretation means. By setting out on guerrilla research, we are being proactive, taking the initiative and 'JUST DOING IT'. We are getting out there with an idea of what we want to understand and pull from the users, and actually engaging with them in their environment, on their time and at no expense whatsoever.
Too often we're weighed down by several factors in the professional industry that mean we either don't get around to conducting vital research or it's done in a confined environment and in a very formal way (your conference room or user lab isn't the user's environment).
My case study - based on a public service project - shows how easy it is to conduct guerilla research, the value it offers, the authenticity of the insights gained and the overall outcome. Within this project I had to take the initiative, on my own time, to sit and talk with real users - from taxi drivers, to bar managers, to students. All of this was done either in that user's environment, or over the phone - where they could still stay in that environment and tell me straight how they felt and what the real life issues were.
This happened because of an all too common issue within the project: very little time was given to user research, the client didn't have a list of potential contacts and it was an activity that was purely assumed to happen. It was never agreed in detail during the initial project sign off between the ill-informed sales team and the client side.
If several common factors within a 'user centered' project become a weight around the neck of the user experience, you can always, ALWAYS rely on guerrilla activities. Just bring your initiative and you'll fight for the user every time.
Marty is a user experience consultant: with a wide focus on user experience and ethnography overall, his foundation lies in interaction design.
Having worked through design agencies, dev firms, industrial manufacturing and corporate consultancy, Marty has worked closely within both intimate and large scale project teams whilst delivering for various government and consumer brand clients.
Being the local leader of the IxDA in Scotland, Marty aims to be as closely involved with the community as possible, organising events, networking with community conscious organisations and creating relationships between local professionals.
Since leaving the corporate world, Marty has been building a new innovation and experience based consultancy as well as a digital aggregation based product, Red Menu.