Breakfast Briefing : Mobile Diary Studies

What Is a Diary Study?

A Diary Study is a form of human behaviour research which relies on users documenting personal experiences over a prolonged period of time. The aim of a diary study is to develop an understanding of natural human behaviour and formed habits over a set of days or weeks rather than a one-time experience with a product or service.

Previously diary studies have been known to be physical kits which results in participants carrying around artefacts to documents their interactions and experiences. These artefacts could involve notepads, disposable cameras, camcorders, voice recorders and (or) surveys.

Yet reaching for these physical objects in day to day life is hardly a natural behaviour and therefore results in participants forgetting to post or losing parts of the diary. In addition with such a study there is limited communication granted between the facilitator and participant which can lead to users recording irrelevant information throughout the study.

Unfortunately it is only once the studies are back with the facilitator and research phase has ended that this will become evident. In the end diary studies can be an avenue of frustration for both facilitator and participant.

Mobile Diary Studies

However in recent developments there is of course an app for that.

These mobile diary applications condense the multiple physical artefacts into one platform utilizing the phone features including video / photo / microphone and a range of question types including radio scale, multiple choice and a basic text for the user to fill out ‘in the moment’ of the day to day experience.

As we all know our mobiles have somewhat become a life line in our existence.

Therefore by using the mobile platform and modern smartphones, ethnographic research can now more than ever, seamlessly integrate into the participant’s day to day life and capture ‘in the moment’ experiences.

There are a number of these apps on the market available for this kind of work each focusing on capturing the data in a different way. For our project the best fit approach was Nativeye which is a task based app where the facilitator issues out ranging question types, some set to mandatory asking for photo, video and text feedback.

The level of interaction achieved with participants on the mobile platform as opposed to the physical artefact affords the facilitator to break down barriers and exposes a new level of interaction. The flexibility along with heightened productivity trumps any physical methods of ethnography research and so advice moving forward would be to ditch the physical and move digital!

Join Nicola and the User Vision team at this years UX Scotland.


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