You will need

a diary (paper, digital), and, possibly, a camera


at least 1 week


1 or more users


3 – it is especially challenging for the participant

Use when...

  • you want to find information about the user, which would have been unobtainable in your presence
  • you want to get to know users’ experiences in the context
  • you cannot be with the user in the researched place (e.g. at home or in hospital)

Do not use when...

  • you want to get a large number of opinions on a single topic (try Questionnaires instead)
  • you need data in a uniform structure (although it depends on the form of the user’s diary)


  1. Set the form of the diary (structure, regularity of entries). User’s diary can take many forms - it can be written on paper, user’s blog, or user’s photos or videos that record his or her experiences and feelings.
  2. Before having users writing their diaries, try working with a diary yourself.
  3. Users should be explained how to work with the library and provided with the necessary tools. Arrange the means of further communication.
  4. Let the user collect the data and, in course of the collecting, continually ask the user in order to find out whether the process meets your expectations.
  5. When the time determined for data collection passes, analyze the data from users’ diaries. You can meet the users to conduct additional interviews.

Keep in mind that...

  • your participants need to be selected carefully
  • you need to agree with the users on everything that should be recorded in the diary, i.e. what kind of thoughts and activities are relevant for you
  • a diary does not have to be a book - consider the possibility of a video diary or any other form of recording

Find out more

In the exploring phase, you can use the following methods…

Desk Research

When you need to quickly obtain valuable information

When you need to collect a lot of opinions in a short time

When you need a quick feedback

Download the book Service Design in Libraries

It includes detailed descriptions of case studies from both the Czech Republic and Norway.

Download the book  

Get the design methods card set

You will always have a ready help, which will tell you how to proceed, and which tools to prepare.

Get the card set