Low Cost Guerilla User Research

Cyd Harrell · Wednesday, November 14 · 8:30 am – 5:30 pm · in Plaza A

User research is no longer a big budget production item. You can get the answers you need quickly and inexpensively, to build a team-wide deep understanding on what’s best for your customers.

Gather user insights quickly and efficiently to answer the most critical questions about your users and their needs. Bring user-focused decision making into your development cycles with practical research techniques.

Collect insights your team can use immediately by intercepting users as you need them. Influence better designs by providing valuable research and cultivating a shared understanding of the user.

It’s amazing how much practical knowledge Cyd Harrell has about making insightful user research happen in any situation.

The Day’s Agenda


Introduce low-cost, high-impact research methods into your design process

  • Integrate adaptable research techniques into your agile and lean development cycles.
  • Capture timely answers to your team’s most critical questions with emergent tasks that evolve from user conversations.
  • Communicate powerful insights with compelling user recordings and photos.

Intercept and recruit users just in time for guerrilla studies

  • Identify the most important elements of a recruiting appeal to maximize response rates.
  • Recruit participants through different mediums, including in-person and web intercepts.
  • Conduct a user intercept and practice asking the right qualifying questions.


Assemble your toolkit for conducting actionable user research studies

  • Prepare a physical low-fidelity toolkit to successfully go out into the field.
  • Put together a toolkit of lightweight methods suitable for different types of research questions.
  • Plan an approach for capturing the rich insights and organizing your on-the-fly findings.
  • Establish a simple approach for informed consent, compensation, and note taking.

Get organizational buy-in from stakeholders

  • Communicate findings that stakeholders will listen and act upon.
  • Combat stakeholder objections and illustrate the power of informal research.
  • Draft a proposal for executing a compelling research plan for your organization.

Achieve Quick and Powerful Research Outcomes

Avoid time-consuming research that slows down the development cycles

Get your team listening to your findings and taking action on the results by keeping up with the fast, agile cycles. With on-the-fly research, you can provide in-depth findings right when your team needs them the most.

Stop waiting for permission and embrace informal research practices

By executing small, valuable bites of research, you will help your team to make timely product decisions using solid evidence.

Combat stakeholder objections to user research

Capture the interest of stakeholders by quickly taking the findings from your studies and translating them to the product and business opportunities.

You’ll see how to:

  • Learn the basic techniques for conducting solid user interviews
  • Ask task-based interview questions to capture a user’s true interests
  • Execute quick, informal research studies to keep up with your agile team
  • Confidently intercept users for research
  • Overcome team obstacles by addressing their common concerns
  • Influence your organization with an overt - or covert - research plan

Conduct timely and strategic research projects

Learn a proven process for successful guerrilla research projects

You will learn to love the duct tape. See how to confidently talk to users on the street, collect and analyze the data, and report back the results to your team.

Have the confidence to communicate research with management and clients

Spot your stakeholders’ pain points and biases and address them before they torpedo your research plan.

Prepare for your research studies with the right up-front planning

By assembling the right toolkit of clipboards, cameras, permission forms, and interview questions, you will capture all of the insights you’ll need to inform product decisions.

Use a team-oriented process to produce actionable results

Work collaboratively and show value by understanding your team’s timeline and research questions.

Grow your toolkit of collaborative research methods

Cyd will balance the day between lecture and interactive, fun activities. She will also provide cheat sheets, checklists, and references for conducting your research. There will be lots of discussion to get your questions answered and hear what’s worked for others.

Cyd Harrell

Photo of Cyd Harrell

Here’s what Jared says about why he chose Cyd for UI23…

When we first met Cyd Harrell, she was driving the user research efforts behind the groundbreaking work at Bolt Peters. Cyd and her team were pioneers in inexpensive and quick techniques that transformed how our entire industry looked at gleaning research knowledge.

We’ve followed her career as she went to do amazing work at Code for America, helping cities around the country integrate research into their understanding of their citizens and the needs of their communities. Seriously, nobody has smaller budgets for formal research than cities, yet Cyd and her CfA fellows found new ways to put the citizen in the center of the applications they designed. Cyd just finished as executive director of 18F, the U.S. General Services Administration’s internal government design firm, where she’s helped infuse the federal government with a new respect for the needs of its users.

Having worked on all these incredible problems gives her a solid understanding of what’s doable and where to cut exactly the right corners to get what the team needs to move their design forward. Spend a day with Cyd and your worldview of research will never be the same. She has a way of making the impossible into something quite doable.

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