post saved


People have been putting pen to paper in daily diaries for centuries as an act of reflection, confession, and/ or documentation. As a research method, journaling is a powerful way to learn about the inner workings of people as they document their experiences with a particular product or issue. In contrast to activities that require face-to-face interaction, journaling is done privately, typically over days or weeks. This allows time for deliberative reflection that other methods may not. Often people will share more details about their feelings and opinions when they do not have to do it in person. 

A journal activity does not necessarily have to be a book. Participants can take photographs of their interactions and provide captions, narrate a series of short videos, take voice recordings, draw/ diagram, or provide written responses to open-ended prompts. Whatever the chosen tools, craft them carefully to facilitate good findings. 


  1. Identify a subject area to study. 
  2. Make a kit of materials for record keeping. 
  3. Include a paper diary and/ or access to a blog. 
  4. Invite a group of primary stakeholders to participate. 
  5. Explain the purpose and duration of the study. 
  6. Distribute the kits with clear, simple instructions. Include a guide for capturing pictures and video. 
  7. Ask participants to fill out the journal and send it back to you. 
  8. Perform an exit interview with each participant. 


  • Take advantage of the devices that participants already have/ carry. 
  • Send periodic reminders to create journal entries. 
  • Provide any postage/ mailing instructions needed for returning the kits. 


  • LUMA Institute. (2012). Journaling. In Innovating for people: Handbook of human-centered design methods. essay. 

Downloads & Links

LUMA Institute: Journaling