Agile research method – user experience diary

Obtaining real customer experience insights and not just making assumptions based on secondary (analytics data) is absolutely critical before finalising your concepts and requirements. There is no substitute for talking to real people about what you are proposing before investing real money in App or Website development. This article shows you how to use an agile user experience research method know as a user experience diary.

Using an agile research user experience diary enables you to run ideas and concepts by a selected group from your target audience. An online user experience guided diary is a cost effective and time sensitive option to find out if people will understand and accept your idea. Agile methods of testing using online user experience guided diary enable you to set some tasks for individuals to complete over a particular period. The objective to confirm their needs and find out what works and what does not. You can ask a group of people from your user audience questions and present concepts to comment. From a user’s point of view, it is a one on one conversation with the diary and the organiser or moderator. You can also include a topic which includes wireframe images and selects a topic task to have individuals click on a website wireframe image based on a set of instructions you provided. The combination of both visual input and qualitative data in the form of comments provides both action and behavioural feedback

Why an agile research user experience diary?

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  • A user experience diary method for collecting user experience data is personal and unbiased.
  • An online guided diary provides the option for the participant to complete at a time and from a device which is convenient for them.
  • It reduces the cost of running tradition focus groups or face to face user experience interviews.
  • An online diary enables you to both collect visual and written responses, but also acts as a launch pad for other activities from the online environment – such as surveys, video interviews or discussions.
  • You can test wireframes and images by having individuals select areas which are of interest or create issues.
  • You can use guided diaries to have people document their behaviour and opinions after they access external websites or applications.
  • You can find out what drives behaviour and decision making so you can tailor your site or application interaction to meet those drivers.
  • You can setup usage scenarios and have them comment and provide feedback in the context of how they would use a particular service in a real work environment.
  • It gives people longer to think about the responses they give and provide more meaningful answers than you would receive from a survey.
  • You can use the diary method to both understand and track the customer journey by presenting different touch points and ideas to participants to comment.
  • It provides the option to ask follow-up questions if something is unclear.
  • You can manage may members from the one environment and filter the data as required.

GroupQuality user experience diary research

How does a user experience diary work?

Setting up a series of user experience diary topics that participants can follow one after the other may include both private diary and open group discussions about designs, concepts and functionality.

For example, let’s consider a concept design for a website that is comparing legal services. We need to engage a sample of 10 people from our intended audience of people who have used online legal document services in the past. We need them to complete a five user experience tasks to provide both feedback and suggestions about the wireframes and concepts we have in mind for our new online legal template website. We need to know if we have hit the mark, or what areas need to be improved.

We would first recruit participant users from an online panel or customer list based on the target audience requirements. Once we have participants register for our user experience project we provide a short introduction to describe the project, what will is required of them and how much they are expected to contribute. Based on our needs an appropriate incentive of $50 gift voucher is provided on completion of all five topics.

GroupQuality agile online research discussion plan

Typically we have five user experience diary topics and tasks already loaded and ready for each of our ten participants to compete. Each topic is to be completed in order from 1 to 5. In the first topic, we ask them why they would use a legal document services website and what would drive them to do so. We are particularly interested in understanding how they would look for such a site, which channels would influence their choice and what they would expect to find once they got there.

The next topic we include a concept for an online banner ad and dynamically displayed video ad. We mark the image as a “hotspot” task and add task instructions that are shown once they click on the wireframe concept image. The topic includes a question to ask about their first impression. They click on the image to reveal a hotspot task which asks them to click (or select if using a mobile device) the section of the image which would first grab their attention or would cause them to click a particular section. The participants save the task to their diary and add in a comment answering the additional questions asked of them.

GroupQuality wireframe heatmap user experience research diary

Each topic builds upon the previous based on what we anticipate to be the customers’ journey. The comments that participants make are critical for putting the task results and place the responses in context; helping to understand when people would select certain areas. We deep-dive into the needs of the customer to find out if the services push is appealing enough to drive traffic and make them click our ad or fill out our contact form.

Participants follow each topic and the final one we make an open discussion to that people can discuss their experiences with competing websites and what they find useful and what they don’t. Participants can complete our user experience diary project all in the one sitting or over time, with some completing the tasks on mobile devices and others on a desktop or tablet devices.

The reports for this example project generate textual answers which can be filtered, instant poll results and click heat maps which can be filtered by individuals and by topic. The results tell us that tat the concepts are half way there but fail to push the most sought after legal document services. It is also not clear how they search for the legal document template that best matches a particular scenario.

The click heat maps tell us that each has a different interpretation of our menu and that we need may need to rethink the terminology used based on the website, supported by the comments made by all our participants.

GroupQuality usability, user experience diary-reports

But this is not the end of agile insights story, one we have our test site up and running. We invite the same participants back to give it a test run and use our diary to document the feedback and experiences. We get them to upload screen shots and provide comments to ensure we get a clear understanding of where and how they might use our web app. We ask some follow-up questions and have a discussion about the parts of the product which are not clear.

Keep iterating using our agile user research diary process with the confidence that you can ask questions and follow-up with each person if we need to clarify a major point of interest.

The above is an example based on real projects and is how you use agile user experience research diaries. It is agile by its nature and enables you to run streams of user groups at the same time all from the one environment. The advantage is you can prompt individuals to explain their responses or expand on their comments, just by replying to their comment.

GroupQuality® is a cloud-based insight software and consulting service that helps you capture insights, feedback and knowledge, in less time, on smaller budgets and with fewer resources. If you need a fast and flexible tool to engage customers, employees and partners, to communicate, collaborate, ask questions and quickly capture the answers, then we can help you! Contact Us

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