What is a diary study? It is a log of activities or behaviors that you ask a user to make over an extended period of time. This study can take place over a few days or months. 

With Validately, you can implement a diary study by asking the user to take video logs to explain their activities or ask them to create videos of their experiences or environment. Allowing users to include a visual component often provides a better understanding of the experience than what words alone can provide. Videos also provide an opportunity to immediately see facial expressions underscoring the emotional highs and lows of their experiences.

People often forget the details involved in the day to day task and activities. A diary study is great at capturing these small details and changes in attitudes that occur over time that other research techniques might miss. 

Take a look at this example GIF of a user’s mobile video log.

Step 1: Planning

To get started, define the focus of the study and the long-term behaviors you would like to understand. With that in mind, identify the audience you’d like to participate and build out a logging schedule that best captures their attitudes and experiences. Once a day for seven days is common, but may not work for how your users interact with your product.

Step 2: Recruit your users

Recruiting for diary studies is critical. You’ll want to be sure to choose engaged, passionate people. This is because you are asking people to self-report over a longer period of time. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it might take to recruit the right users for the study. 

The best time to start the recruiting effort is as soon as you’ve determined who you’d like to hear from.  You’ll need 5 - 6 people who fit the same profile.  Including more people in the study doesn’t necessarily provide better insights.  Be sure you’ve considered carefully the user characteristics and demographics you’d like to include and exclude from your audience group. Well thought out recruiting criteria is immeasurably important in creating a short, smart recruiting screener.

With your screener in hand, you can choose to recruit by reaching out to users of your site, customers, your own network or a recruiting agency. 

Step 3: Validately Setup 

Once you’ve defined the logging schedule and the questions to ask, it’s time to setup your study in Validately. Validately currently offer a mobile based Unmoderated Interview.

Setup is simple. You’ll first make a few selections: choose unmoderated study, then Interview (mobile). Choose to invite your own users. Then enter you diary study instructions and questions. 

Validately allows users to log video or written diary entries, answer survey questions, or turn the camera to film their environment. 

In TASK 1 of the mobile app setup, I usually add instructions for the user to provide additional help. Here is an example: 

Keep in mind, this will be recorded, so make sure you are looking your finest, or at least decent. First, tap the "Start Task" on your screen.

Step 4: Pre-study brief

Take the time up front to get your users ready to log in their diary. Be sure they understand the details of the study, the schedule and what is expected in every aspect of their participation. 

A thoughtful email with just the right details will give users a confident start. Be as specific as possible about what information you need participants to log. Create clear and detailed instructions for logging. Give users example log entries to help them understand the level of detail you need from them.

The users should familiarize themselves with Validately before they begin. Provide the users a chance to practice a log before the study begins in earnest. And be sure to answer any questions they have before they get started.  

Tip: Consider offering a one-on-one chat or call to be sure that they are ready to begin. 

Step 5: Logging period

Once the study begins, keep the users engaged in the study. Send upbeat email reminders with a quick link to the Validately diary study. 

Monitor the users’ logs as they come in. You might find a response that surprises or intrigues you. Asking immediate follow-up questions via email could provide unexpected insights. 

Step 6: Follow up 

Don’t forget to schedule a one-on-one interview with each user after the dairy study schedule is completed and you’ve reviewed all of the responses. You’ll want to ask in-depth questions about the users’ responses to be sure you understand how they evolved over time. 

Interested in learning more? Contact us and we’ll walk you through a demo.

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