A diary study requires users to keep track of their activities, thoughts and frustrations in some form of a diary in a specific period of time. Participants may be asked to track specific items like mobile device usage and usage of different software and tools. Diary entries can include: written accounts of events, pictures, video and audio.
The main benefit of a diary study is to get information about the user’s experience over time. Feedback is often provided while the user is interacting with the product, so here we get an instant organic feedback during the actual use.
These are the situation where it is worth to apply this method:
- Tracking how users complete a long process that is likely to take several days, such as shopping for a large/expensive item or looking for a new house or apartment.
- Discovering what motivates users to initiate certain actions, such as using a search engine.
- Determining how an app or website affect regular habits, such as fitness or fertility trackers.
- Assessing retention and/or learnability; for example, seeing whether your users stay engaged with a game after a certain period of time.