Ask customers to keep a daily diary of not just how they use your product, but also their digital lives and habits. 

👥 10 and more | ⏰ weeks | 💪🏼 high effort


Diaries offer a wide range of views into the lives of your target user because the participants recall their usage, behavior, and attitudes while using the product in their natural context. 

Participants are asked to keep a written or pictorial log of how they interact with, respond to, and feel about a product or service over time (usually a week or so), followed by a summary one-on-one interview to discuss any recurring patterns or follow-up questions. The results of a diary study require a final synthesis and analysis to understand the user, their motivations, and the broad needs and pain points that exist in their lives. 

Who is involved? 

Diary studies require a recruiter to both source the right kinds of participants, and schedule emails for reminding them about the diary exercises and/or new writing prompts; a moderator and note-taker for the summary one-on-one interviews to follow-up on interesting entries; and the team to comb through the diary entries and interview notes to uncover key insights that inform the next milestone of the process. 

How is it done? 

  1. Determine as a team the form the diary will take (digital, pen and paper, etc.), how delivery of entries will be accomplished (email, mail, etc.), and schedule for writing the entries (daily, hourly, etc.). Follow this conversation up with a discussion of what questions or writing prompts you’d like to pose to participants. 
  2. Recruit participants based on their habits, usage of your product, and willingness to maintain a consistent diary record. 
  3. Ask the participants to start the diary with the first prompt, once both the mechanics and recruitment pool have been achieved. Keep in mind: if certain participants fail to respond or adequately answer questions in their entries, don’t hesitate to reach out and correct any deviance from expected results. 
  4. After the diary period has ended (from a couple days to a couple weeks), conduct summary interviews with each participant individually. 
  5. Sit down as a team and review the interview notes and diary entries to pick out useful qualitative insights on how participants currently use your product or similar competitors, and what underserved problems or needs exist in their lives. 


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