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Getting off the Ground with Gorilla: A Guide

  • Overview
  • Finding Your Way Around Gorilla
  • Creating Your First Project
  • Creating a Task
  • Cloning a Task: Samples and Open Materials
  • Creating a New Task
  • An Introduction to Task Zones
  • Creating a Task Spreadsheet
  • Creating a Questionnaire
  • Creating a Questionnaire
  • Creating an Experiment
  • Creating an Experiment - Design
  • Creating an Experiment - Recruitment
  • Creating an Experiment - Participants
  • Creating an Experiment - Data
  • Coding Gorilla Tasks
  • Scripting in the Task Builder
  • Gorilla Code Editor
  • Problem Solving
  • Stubbing It Out
  • Bot checks


Gorilla is an online experiment builder. We provide an easy-to-use graphical interface which allows you to create complex studies in an intuitive way.

To read about some of the fantastic research that's already been conducted using Gorilla, check out our Spotlights page.

This guide will walk you through how to get started and create your first Gorilla experiment!

If you're new to Gorilla, we recommend you start by watching our onboarding videos. These will take you through the main tools that are available in Gorilla.

After that, the next step is to get stuck in! We've created Gorilla to be as flexible as possible, which means that it's possible to create most experiments using our existing tooling. We're proud of how much Gorilla can do, but it can feel like there's a lot to learn. It's okay if you don't immediately know how to create everything you want - get started on creating what you can and you should pick up more as you go!

Finding Your Way Around Gorilla

The place you'll probably spend most time on Gorilla is in your Projects. This is where you'll create your experiments (more information on that in the next section of this walkthrough).

If you get stuck, we have extensive support documentation, which you can find here. Our search tool is great - if there's some information you're looking for, try typing key words into our search bar. If you're still struggling, just contact our support desk - they're super friendly and happy to help. We also have a Gorilla Facebook Group, where you can get help from our community of Gorilla users.

Other resources to check out are our Samples and Open Materials, which contain tasks that have already been created in Gorilla - copying these can save you a lot of time in creating your own tasks!

To change your personal information and preferences, head to your My Account page.

Gorilla pricing works on a pay-per-participant basis. Signing up for an account, creating your experiment and accessing our tools are all completely free - you only pay for the data you collect. To learn more about purchasing participant tokens see our How To: Participant Tokens page.To learn more about our pricing, check out our pricing page.

As you navigate around Gorilla, you will often come accross little icons - click these to get more support information!

Creating Your First Project

The first thing you'll need to create is a project. You can include as many tasks, questionnaires and experiments as you want within one project.

To create a project, just go to My Projects, either from the homepage menu or from the menu in the top right corner of any Gorilla page. Then, click Create New Project and name your project.

Next, you'll need to add some content!

Gorilla takes a modular approach to experiment creation. You should create all the tasks and questionnaires you want separately (within your project folder). Then, put them together using our Experiment Tree.

We recommend getting started by creating a task or questionnaire. It's easier to create your Experiment Tree once you have a first draft of your tasks and questionnaires.

However, maybe you want to create a broad overview of the structure of your experiment first. In this case, you can start by creating an experiment. Our Experiment Tree provides an intuitive graphical interface for you to design your experiment flow. You'll need to create a placeholder questionnaire or task (or both) to put in the tree. Just a questionnaire or task with one page will do the job and allow you to create the overall flow of your study.

Cloning a Task: Samples and Open Materials

Often, the easiest way to create a task in Gorilla is to clone it from an existing task. We have a selection of classic tasks that have already been created in Gorilla. You can clone them straight into your own project, then make any changes needed for the task to do exactly what you want.

It's worth having a look through these before deciding to create a task from scratch: you may find someone has already created something very similar to the task you want!

To clone an existing task, just open the task up, click on the Settings menu, then click Clone.

We also have our Gorilla Open Materials: a fantastic resource with shared materials from other researchers. Open Materials are often in folders which contain multiple tasks, questionnaires or experiments shared by the same Gorilla user. Try putting key words into the search bar to help you find a task that's similar to yours!

Creating a New Task

To create your own task, click the red Create button in the top right corner of your project folder. Then, select Task Builder Task.

Tasks in Gorilla are made up of displays, which in turn are made up of screens. To add a new display, click the + button (shown in the image below) under the Task Structure tab. You will then be prompted to name your display.

To add a new screen to your display, click the white and grey plus button inside the display. You will be prompted to choose a template for your new screen: the simplest option is a blank screen, or you can use one of our pre-made templates as a base. You can fully edit any template, so don't worry that you'll get stuck with a format you want to change!

Typically, a display would contain the entirety of one type of trial in your task. For instance, if you have a series of trials that are each made up of a fixation cross presentation, followed by an image presentation, followed by a keyboard response, you would contain that trial within one display, but multiple screens. In Gorilla, you can present one display multiple times, with slight changes to the content (for example, to present a different image) each time. This will make more sense once you become familiar with how Gorilla Tasks allow you to order and repeat your displays - keep reading this walkthrough to learn how to do this using task spreadsheets!

Gorilla automatically saves your work as you go. However, when you have completed a significant amount of work on your task, you should also commit it. Questionnaires and Tasks need to be commited before they can be added to an Experiment.

Committing also gives you a form of version control: if you decide you want to return to an earlier version of your task, you can restore any of your previous commits.

An Introduction to Task Zones

Zones are the building blocks of Gorilla task screens. A zone is what we call any piece of content or any feature in the task builder. They vary from simple content zones (text, images), to response zones (text entry, a continue button), all the way through to more advanced zones (paced reading, eye tracking).

You can find a full list of the zones available in Gorilla in the Task Builder's Tooling Reference Guide, with information on how to use each one. To add a zone to a screen, click Edit Layout, and then Add Zone. This will automatically add a blank zone in the centre of your screen. Click on the zone you've just added to choose the zone type. When you add a zone to a screen, you should position it in the location you want it to appear to your participants.

Note: A few zones, such as the mouse tracking zone, don't appear in any way to participants and so where you place them doesn't matter, but these are the exception to the rule.

Once you've added a zone, chosen your zone type, and positioned your zone (it's easy to edit these things later if you change your mind), you'll need to configure your zone. Click Done on the Edit Layout view.

There are two ways to configure a zone. For some zones, you'll need to set the content of the zone by clicking on the zone. This content could be text, an image, a video, or HTML, depending on the zone type.

The most straightforward way to add content is to add static content. This means that that zone, whenever it appears, will display that same piece of content. To add text, just type in the text you want. If you are using a Rich Text Zone, you can use markdown or HTML to change the appearance of the text.

To add any other kind of content, you will first need to upload your content. You can do this from the Stimuli tab of the task builder. Just click Stimuli in the tabs menu, then click the red Add New Stimuli button. If you select more than one stimuli in your files, you can upload multiple stimuli at once.

To add your uploaded stimuli into your task, you'll just need to use the name of the image.

Note: Gorilla will include file extensions in stimuli names - make sure you copy the full name, including the file extension.

Alternatively, you might want to systematically vary the content a zone displays. You can do this using the task spreadsheet - see the next section of this walkthrough!

Many zones also have configuration settings. To see these, scroll down to below where you see your screen layout. The configuration settings are very different for different zones, so the best way to understand them is to view the support page for the zone you are using. We've also put some support information into the task builder as part of the zones, to make life as easy as possible.

Creating a Task Spreadsheet

In Gorilla, the spreadsheet drives the task. Consequently, you will always need a spreadsheet even for the simplest task.

You can think of the displays you create as the units of your task. The spreadsheet tells Gorilla what order to display those units in. You can reuse a display as many times as you want, giving you multiple similar trials. For instance, you could start with a display which contains your instructions, then present your trial display 5 times to give your participants 5 trials.

Spreadsheets are also used for adding in information that changes. This could be a piece of content, such as having a different image presented on each trial. It could also be an answer, for instance if you ask your participants a maths question and you want to enter the correct answer to compare against.

You can add rows to your Gorilla task inside Gorilla, in the Spreadsheet tab. If you want to add new columns (with the exception of a few new columns Gorilla adds automatically), you'll need to do this externally in Excel, then upload your Excel file to Gorilla.

If you want to randomise your trials, just put a 1 next to all the trials you want shuffled. You can also do more complex randomisation. To learn more about this and about other ways of using task spreadsheets, read our full spreadsheet walkthrough.

Creating a Questionnaire

To create a consent form, collect demographic information, give general instructions outside of the task builder, or to include other types of scales and questioannires, you should use Gorilla's Questionnaire Builder.

Questionnaires are made up of components we call widgets. A widget is normally a type of question, such as a text entry box or a Likert scale. It can also be a piece of content: some text or an image. One unusual type of widget is the page break widget: just insert this wherever you want participants to have to click through to a new page. To find out more about widgets, check out this page here.

Sometimes, you might want to use the answer a participant provides in a questionnaire to change the content they see later in your experiment, or to reject them from your experiment altogether. This is where Gorilla's embedded data feature comes in. To learn more about this, check out our embedded data walkthrough.

Gorilla automatically saves your work as you go. However, when you have completed a significant amount of work on your questionnaire, you should also commit it. Questionnaires and Tasks need to be commited before they can be added to an Experiment. Committing also gives you a form of version control: if you decide you want to return to an earlier version of your questionnaire, you can restore any of your previous commits.

To read our full support page on the Questionnaire Builder, go here.

Creating an Experiment - Design Tab

The Design tab is where you'll create the flow of your Gorilla experiment.

The component parts of a Gorilla experiment are known as nodes.

Every experiment starts with a start node (or occaisionally several) and ends with a finish node.

In between, you will put task and questionnaire nodes, containing the tasks and questionnaires you have created. If you want to create your experiment before your tasks and questionnaires, you could use some of our samples as placeholders. Alternatively, you could create very simple versions of your tasks and questionnaires and update them later. You can easily update the version of a task or questionnaire node that is used in an experiment by clicking the Utilities Button, then selecting Update All Nodes.

For most experiments, you will also want to add some of our other nodes! We have a complete listing of the nodes available on Gorilla Experiment Tree Node's Tooling Reference Guide. They allow you to randomise your experimental conditions, to branch your participants based on their previous answers, and even to create multi-day experiments by including a timed delay!

Gorilla automatically saves your work as you go. However, when you have completed a significant amount of work on your experiment, you should also commit it. Experiments need to be committed before you can start participant recruitment. Committing also gives you a form of version control: if you decide you want to return to an earlier version of your experiment, you can restore any of your previous commits. The commit version that each participant experienced will be recorded, so you can re-commit your experiment partway through recruitment.

Creating an Experiment - Recruitment Tab

This is where you can decide how to recruit participants. The easiest method is a simple link - Gorilla will provide a link to your experiment, which you can then distribute. There are also other recruitment methods which allow you greater control over the participants who access your experiment.

The recruitment tab is also where you set the number of participants you would like to enter your experiment. To recruit participants, you will need participant tokens. If you are already a member of a Gorilla subscription, you should do this by requesting tokens from your subscription. If you are not on a subscription, you can purchase pay-as-you-go participant tokens from the Recruitment tab. You could also look into purchasing a Gorilla subscription - for our subscription pricing information, see our pricing page.

Gorilla experiments are hosted on the Gorilla site and all participant data is stored securely on our servers. Participants do not need to download anything to create a Gorilla account - all they need is access to the internet and a browser. If you'd like more information about how we ensure data privacy and security, we have a due diligence support page here.

It is worth noting here that Gorilla is not a recruitment service. That's a very different kind of service - which requires very different skills - and so we leave that to expert participant recruitment services. Gorilla does work with any good participant recruitment services. We have a support page with information on some of the recruitment services that tend to be favoured by behavioural scientists here.

Creating an Experiment - Participants Tab

In the experiment tree, your Participants tab will display all of the participants who have entered your experiment. You can filter your participants by their experiment status, by their inclusion status, and by the experiment version they completed.

From here, you can manually reject participants whose data you don't want to include in your study:

  1. If you reject a participant before they reach a finish node, their token will not be consummed.
  1. If you reject them after they have completed the experiment, their token has already been consumed, but they will no longer be included when you download your data.

Creating an Experiment - Data Tab

The Data tab is where you can download your experiment data.

Click the red Manage Experiment Data button. If you have collected new participants since the last time you downloaded your data, you will need to generate your data before downloading it.

Gorilla will provide you with a separate file for each task and questionnaire node in your experiment. If you recruited participants over multiple versions of your experiment, make sure to use the Version Picker to download the data from each version.

Note: Your raw data files will contain a lot of metrics. Please don't be overwhelmed by this: there are some easy ways to filter out only the data you are interested in. We have a support page all about Gorilla data to help you, which you can find here.

Scripting in the Task Builder

If you would like to add some scripting to a standard Gorilla task, you can do this by clicking on the Script tab in the Gorilla Task Builder. We have some example scripts that solve common problems, which you can find here.

If you get stuck, our support desk provides some limited scripting support. Scripting enquiries are time-consuming for our support team, so please be patient in waiting for a response to your request.

Gorilla Code Editor

If you are a confident coder and would like to create your task entirely from scratch, you should create a Code Editor task.

To do this, click the +Create button inside a project, and then select Code Editor Task.

We have created a variety of bespoke consultancy products through coding in Gorilla - you can see some of them here.

Stubbing It Out

If at any point you're not sure of the way to create what you want, the best thing to do is to stub it out.

For instance, if you want to add a image zone to your task and you're not sure how to set it to disappear after 5 seconds, start by creating your task and adding the image zone. You can then add text which says 'disappears after 5 seconds' to remind yourself of what you want to create later. If you're not sure which zone you'll need, you could even just add a text zone as a placeholder and write in it what you want to create.

Comparably, if you know you want to have a response button that stores the answer that the participant uses to be later used in the task, you would start by creating your task and adding the response button zone. To remind yourself of what needs to be done, you could add a text zone saying 'storing data for later use in task'.

Similarly, you can add rich text widgets into the questionnaire builder, or add nodes you're not planning to use into the experiment tree just to map your experiment design out.

Once you've got the basics in, you can take your time figuring out how to add in more complex functionality. If you've done as much as you can before submitting a support request, this also helps our support team to identify your problem and provide you with clearer and quicker assistance.

Don't forget to search our support pages whenever you are looking for more information.

Bot checks

We don't see any evidence of bots on your site, but for those who want to be extra cautious, we have a collection of sample bot check examples on our samples page, found here:

You can choose from a variety of pre-created tasks that can be placed in the experiment tree and act as bot checks to help ease your mind about the quality of data collected.