Diary Studies: Uncover the patterns in behavior

Diary studies

Today customers are interacting with us across various channels and devices. Web, mobile, tablet applications, live chat, email, and social media are a few of these sources. Because of the interactions from the many sources, a customer journey is incredibly dynamic and complex. At the same time, this end-to-end customer experience is astonishingly relevant in terms of business value. In a world where companies match product offerings and prices, customer experience can be the valuable differentiator between you and your competitor.

One of the most effective ways to understand the end-to-end customer experience is a qualitative research methodology called a diary study. 

In diary studies, you recruit customers to provide information about their experience completing a key activity with your organization over a long period using a diary-style format. The participant will report each interaction with your organization as they complete the tasks and share those details about your experience with you. 

Diary Studies: Uncover the patterns in behavior
Diary studies


There are five main steps to conducting a diary study like this. 

  1. Planning and preparation: 

For the activity, you want to study, write out your research questions, write up detailed instruction and resources materials to help your participants understand what type of data you need and how to report this data to you. Recruit participants from your user audience who intend to conduct this type of activity and ask them to share their experiences along their way. 

  1. Pre-study brief: 

Schedule a short kickoff call with your participants to help them understand expectations of them, what type of data you need them to report.

  1. Logging period : 

Select a designated period for participants to report these interactions to you, also monitor these insights as they come in, and ask for clarification questions to fully understand the context of their experience. 

  1. Post-study interview :

Schedule a time with these participants to discuss their experience as a whole and ask any final questions you may have. 

  1. Analyze the findings: 

Look for points of friction in the customer journey. Find opportunities to improve the complete customer experience by addressing key points of friction that you observed with these participants as they completed these activities.  

  1. Goals:

Aim for precise data from frequent, real-time research records. 

Participant records their experience as and when it happens rather than recalling it later. Data and time reflect a natural experience. Missing or forgetting the feelings or activities is negated and overlooking their interpretation though behavior impact is reduced. The decision-making may have a small impact. By understanding every interaction that will affect their decisions can place their right choice in context. This allows deeper analysis for researchers and missing activities that are be found. 

  1. The realistic result from recedings in a natural environment:

Knowing why and where the activities are carried out will give an authentic picture of operations. Recording taken in the lab or sterile environment will allow the customer to focus on the project as you record. But missing the realistic approach of interaction with the environment, usually encountered by the user in the real world.

  1.  Observe changes over time

Participant behavior when monitored for a longer period, provides more insights. Avoid working on snapshots for some time frame and consider a larger period. Studies with longer duration give insights about change in behavior, action, patterns, interest, and opinion about their product after extended use. 

Observations like dissipated user engagement, regular access, the familiar system, longevity of the product, or novelty are answered. This data is valuable as customers are accessing new features, with an updated version, it reveals the values to the upgraded version. This estimable information can be an advantage to the team as it may be uncounted, and upgrading with this feature will add more value. 

Test the updated features for the cause and effects by considering the specific situation and their outcomes. It allows understanding the interactions that affect the product, use, and attractiveness and light on reactions over time.

Diary Studies: Uncover the patterns in behavior
Example of diary studies


  1.  External influential factor:

An important area is to understand the influencer factors user’s actions and get accurate data from the users without long-term testing along with how the different situations affect their decisions skills. 

Short recordings in regular intervals, uncover the information about the operation, actions, and feelings of the user for long period. 

  1. Opinions with depth:

The prolonged participation of products will bring out the opinions over time that may be useful or worst. All the documentation enhances the product or motivates the UX designers to do better designs. 

The outcome of diary studies is to understand the context and the problem staples. 

  • Collect insights about the user’s motivations and behavior or habits. 
  • Identify the pain points of the user.
  • Define the most frequent user cases and the edges cases.

This methodology allows you to collect contextual information about the customer journey as it unfolds. You will be amazed at what kind of insights you’ll uncover by looking at your customer experience under this lens. 

These details are used from soft-launching or beta testing to streamline, revamping and strengthen weaker products by giving a chance to developers to enhance the experience you deliver. 

Diary studies are similar to mining gold, it provides you the opportunities to grow. By providing methods to deliver information from just 4-8 participants and 2-weeks to 2-months, the analysis, findings look into patterns and behavior of humans.   


Conduct diary studies to understand the context of the problem space faced by the users. Information like users’ motivation to use the apps, their behavior, habits, and the pain points they face while using your app is collected in a diary format for a given time. Working on the most frequent use cases and the edge cases are the ultimate goal of diary studies. 

To conduct studies divide longer-duration studies into a step-by-step process supported by a framework. The questions, guide for selecting the participants, and logging instruction to participants. 

For successful diary studies, follow-up interviews are necessary, all the findings are to analyze the uncovered patterns during your earlier design phases.

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