A diary study collects information from participants by having them repeatedly record their thoughts about a specific activity or experience over a period of time, which may vary from a few days to a few months. This method is often used to get highly contextual information to assess attitudes, behaviors, and/or motivations. Diary studies are great at reporting the “why” of the documented experience and, because of the longitudinal nature, you also see how and why this experience can change.
- Diary Studies: Understanding Long-Term User Behavior and Experiences by Kim Flaherty
Read this for a overview of when using a diary study is useful, a explanation of the methodology, and a few helpful tips.
- Peaking into your participants lives with a diary study by Valsplat
A primer on diary studies with walkthrough of an example.
- Get the real story: adding diary studies to your UX research tool belt by Adam Pereira
Be sure to read the “There has to be a catch. What is it?” section of this article to get a sense of possible downsides of diary studies.
- How we ran a diary study from within our product by Megan Dell
I love this article — it’s a good step-by-step case study of how to run a diary study and some tools you may already use.
- Running mobile diary studies via SMS by Benjamin Humphrey
Traditionally, diary studies are a pretty manual process, involving pre-made sets of journals and physical photographs. This article uses text messaging as a way to bypass old processes.