Kevin will write something significant about the diary study methodology but in the meantime I wanted to pose some questions. A lot of our study techniques seek to understand the user in their natural environment — the mantra being: we must serve the user in the ways that he or she lives now. Unfortunately, there are plenty of us who do not live in a way that is optimal for our health or our long-term well being. Given this, does it make sense to crystallize bad habits by creating products that tailor to them?
When I mention diary studies, I often expect people to either give me a blank stare or have some adverse reaction akin to “blech! that will take too much time/money!” The reality of it is that the methodology isn’t as time consuming nor is it all that complicated. Sometimes, we might get a little more information that we bargained for but that’s rarely a bad thing.
Let’s look at what a diary study is and where these misconceptions might come from.