Home > User Experience > Dear Diary: Using diary study to identify product usage by brand | by Batari Perbawani | Jan, 2021

Dear Diary: Using diary study to identify product usage by brand | by Batari Perbawani | Jan, 2021

Dear Diary: Using diary study to identify product usage by brand | by Batari Perbawani | Jan, 2021

Diary study is one research method which allows us to collect data by repeatedly recording thoughts about a specific activity or experience over a period of time. This method is usually used to get highly contextual information about attitudes, behaviors, or motivations. In a diary study, participants self-report their behaviors, frustrations, opinions, or motivation at defined intervals according to designated prompts or tasks. In addition, we can use this method to collect data for other purposes as an alternative when fieldwork is not a good option for example during pandemic Covid-19.

As UX Researcher, we have to try creative method or way to reach our objective without reduce our quality. Here I would like to share my experience in using diary study to identify user activities when using brands in their daily lives. The following are the steps that I took, along with several tips to consider before you start to conduct a diary study and to prevent obstacles:

Phase 1 Overview the Project

My project aimed to study the brand usage and habits of respondents for all categories in daily life (electronics and gadgets, household appliances, and entertainment).

Actually, we can ask about respondents’ brand usage by interview, but in diary studies, we can get more comprehensive information on brand usage with minimal intrusiveness and capture authentic data.


After setting the objective of the project, I built a scenario which contains several questions about the brand usage of the respondents. Here is my scenario:

Day one

Brand categories

  1. What are the (categories: you can fill the categories you want) brands you currently use/consume?
  2. Besides those brands you mentioned before, what other brands do you use/consume?

These questions apply for all categories.


  1. What application do you have on your smartphone?
  2. What kind of film genre do you watch today?
  3. What kind of music genre do you hear today?

Scenario for day two — seven:

Brand categories

  1. What are brands you use/consume today?


  1. What application do you use on your smartphone today?
  2. What kind of film genre do you watch today?
  3. What kind of music genre do you hear today?

Select your tools

There are many tools for conducting diary studies, from free-paid tools up to paid tools. Paper notes with user instruction are usually used for the traditional diary study. If you are UX researchers like me who have exposure to technology, we can create our survey tools for the diary study. In this research, a Survey Monkey was used for collecting data to be sent to the users every day.

For the technical part of the study, two questionnaires were submitted to the respondents. The first questionnaire is about respondents’ actual brand and their previous brand they have been using. The second questionnaire is the respondents’ brand’s daily usage including their personal care, home living product, food & beverages to cosmetic and skincare. This questionnaire was sent to the respondents on a daily basis from day two until the end of the diary study.

Give Clear directions

Due to the diary study having an interval time of duration, the participants have to commit to filling the diary until the end of the study. It will be challenging for us to recruit the right participant to finish the diary. But some tips from my learning experience give clear expectations and give high incentives.

At the beginning of the study, you have to set the output for each answer to expect the respondent to understand. Participants have their different backgrounds, and we have to brief the participant on how to fill the diary and when they have to fill it. I suggest you create a brief on PDF/booklet and send it out to participants to minimize their questions.

As an appreciation for being our participants and respecting their time to fill a diary, we can give them some incentives based on how many tasks and how long the diary. High incentives will be a reward and increase our participation to finish the diary. To increase completion rate we can give incentives only for the participants who completed their diary, and say the rules at the beginning of the diary or brief sessions.

Phase 2 Running the study

After briefing the respondents we started with the first questionnaire and did monitoring and evaluation from the respondents answer. This part is important because it can determine the result of our diary study.

Monitoring and evaluation

One of the problems when using the diary study does not answer completely. Thus, monitoring is essential to maintain it and crucial to monitor day one diary. On day one, you have to ensure the participant answers and write the document and the correctness of the answers. The simple tips are to check and run through their answer and check the suitability of your purpose. What are they fully understanding with the task? What are they writing the answer suit in your direction? If you find the answer doesn’t suit the direction, you have to tell the respondent through email/call to re-explain the rules, tell them the fault of their answer and give the example of the right one, after that check their comprehension and ensure that’s correct.

Follow-Up Question

After we have conducted diary studies, sometimes we find unique findings or inconsistencies. Thus, we can do further qualitative research with In-Depth Interviews to follow-up the question and deep dive into their motivation. In my research, I have some questions to follow-up on diary studies after knowing their brand, there are;

  1. Confirmation for the unique findings and inconsistencies
  2. What is your motivation for buying the products?
  3. How is your journey to search the brand?
  4. What is your consideration in choosing the brand?
  5. Which attribute is most suitable for each brand category?

After listing down the question, we can deep-dive the participant’s answer and get the full context of our diary’s study.

Phase 3 — Analysis

After we finish our diary study from A to Z, we have to prepare for the Analysis. We can use varied methods for analyzing the data. One of them we can use Spreadsheet and Trello for tagging our data for easier the process, and this is tip for analysis


Analysis diary study would be confusing because of the numbers of data. To minimize it, we can download the data regularly to get to know the pattern. We also can create visualizations for reports for easiness analysis, such as duration of longer brand usage, time for using the product, etc. In this case, spreadsheets and Trello were used to Ito facilitate me to analyze the data.

From my experience, I write the category on the header of Trello and use the body with format name of respondent, what their name brand use and how their frequency use. You can see more detail for using Trello here,

example for using Trello for data analysis

To conclude, these are my experiences for conducting diary studies for getting to know product usage by brand. We can use the diary studies method and modify it for many purposes. Hopefully, this experience can help you to conduct a diary study.

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