Diary Study

Occasionally, what we need to learn about our users can’t take place within a single session or event. Diary studies offer the opportunity to track information over time, for a more holistic view of user behaviors across varied contexts and environments.

Serving suggestion

  • Minimum 5 people
  • Minimum 2 days of data collection

Pairs well with

  • Ethnographic Research


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How to do it:

  • Decide on research questions, goals, and methodology.
  • Recruit, schedule, and incentivize participants.
  • Identify tools or design methods for data capture.
  • Present tools and instructions to the participant.
  • Allow the participant time to complete activities and populate their diary.
  • Once data capture is complete and returned, discuss the results with the participant.
  • Summarize findings.

Additional resources

Diary Studies: Understanding Long-Term User Behavior and Experiences – Nielsen Norman Group

User logs (diaries) of daily activities as they occur give contextual insights about real-time user behaviors and needs, helping define UX feature requirements.

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Diary Studies – User Interviews

User Interviews covers diary-based study methods, including a review of multiple forms of diaries and several basic study designs for employing diary-based research.

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Dear Diary: Using Diaries to Study User Experience – UXPA Magazine

A diary study is a qualitative technique for collecting data on what users have done or experienced. Much like a travel journal contains descriptions of the traveler’s experiences, a UX diary contains descriptions of the user’s experiences with a system.

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