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Guerrilla testing — How to convince people to lend their 10–15 min

It’s been close to 3 years designing fintech products for Next Billion Users. My target segment is easy to find as I step outside my house or commute from home to office and vice-a-versa. They belong to professions like security guard, home staff, delivery, driver, Kirana shops, etc.

Majority of the time I’ve used the Guerrilla Testing method to validate the designs. Series of trials and errors done along the journey has taught me interesting communication tricks. If played well, it does a good job of convincing people to lend their 10–15 min.

These communication tricks are both i.e verbal and non-verbal. Demonstrating below how my typical conversations go with them.

Let’s assume I’m trying to convince a Riksha driver.
(Though I’m narrating an example of Next Billion User, it’s applicable for anyone)

Winning undivided attention

Me — Sir, I need some help. (Pause here. Say it with a little smile. Wait for their response. Make sure you speak in a regular tone. Neither too loud nor to low).

Driver — [Stares for a second or two]. Yeah, say. (With a Yes from him, you now have Driver’s undivided attention of 30 sec to 40 sec.)

Breaking the ice

Me — I need 5–10 min of yours. I’m doing design research. Here, I show some designs on my mobile. After that, I ask some questions. If the answer is correct it means the design is good, if the answer is wrong, the design is bad. It is not your test, it is a test of design. (Say it with a little smile. Use easy to understand vocabulary. If possible, use the local language. Don’t say it’s an interactive prototype or try to explain the same at this stage. Keep it simple. We reveal more details after we get their YES for lending 10–15 min).

Driver — Smiles (A smile is important at this stage. It’s a signal that your tone, vocab, conversation style is working. You are closer to breaking the ice.)

Me — Here I won’t be asking any personal questions. You are free to leave test in between if you do not feel comfortable or if any passenger comes. You need not have to go anywhere with me. It’s a simple test of a few minutes on my mobile. Do you want to give it a try and help? (End it with a question. Use word try/help or both in the question. They make the task feel lightweight and positive.)

Driver — Okay

Me — Thank you so much. It will take max 10 min only. Let’s start.


Me — Before I show designs, I need to know a little bit about your mobile usage.

Me — How long you have been using a smartphone?

Driver — ummmm …. I guess close to 3 yrs.

Me — You are using 3G or 4G and since when?

Driver — 4G. more than 1 year.

Me — What apps do you use often?

Driver — Whatsapp, PayTM, Uber, Youtube, Flipkart.

[Max, I ask 3–5 screening questions and kick-off the test]


Me — Thank you for sharing this info. Now we will start on my mobile. Remember, it is not your test but the test of design. So don’t take any load if anything feels confusing. No personal questions will be asked. You can opt-out of the test anytime.

Driver — Okay. Got it.

Brief the task

Me — I’ll be showing you the design of a mobile app. To test, you will have to interact with the design the way you use any other mobile app. This app is a digital loan app. It gives loans to people earning Rs 350($4.5) to Rs 1200($18) per day. I’m testing a specific part of it. Let’s say your name is Ramesh and you had a medical need of Rs 5,000($70). In the design, there’s an already filled loan application. You need to submit it. Thereafter you will see loan related information and few more steps to get the loan. After finishing the mobile test, I’ll ask 2–3 questions only and then it’s over. Clear? Any questions? (Using a fake name Ramesh conveyed that Driver need not have to provide any personal details. A scenario helped set the context of use.)

Driver — Yes, clear.

Me — Okay, as you use, I want you to think out loud. Whatever is going in your mind, speak out loud. Feel free to express your frustration or dislike. You can be as blunt as … [Give a demo]

Driver — Okay

For me, cooking a dialogue with the following ingredient and in the said sequence has proved efficient in convincing people to lend their 10–15 min.

  1. Win undivided attention
  2. Break the ice
  3. Screening
  4. Reassurance
  5. Brief the task

For easy recall of ingredients and the sequence, use the abbreviation WiBSReB.

Remember, quality ingredients alone won’t make things delicious. Make sure, your dialogue is flavored with a smile and confidence.

I’ve a story to tell from my design journey. Maybe there are some takeaways for you. I'm here to talk about design in simple words.