My First Diary Study Research

And why that wasn't the perfect method although it gave me super useful insights

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Product Designer


Guiabolso is a Brazilian application that helps you improve your finance by synchronizing all your bank accounts and credit cards in one place. It generates user-friendly graphics and gives you helpful insight about your finances. So when it comes to new users, how do CRM and UX impact user's first experience inside the app?


Back in 2018 I was interested in developing my User Research skills and as soon my Design Lead at the time had the chance, he gave me the opportunity to do so (Thanks, Lucas Pazin!). Lucas discovered that our CRM team was organizing a one week “CRM Sprint” which the main goal was to create a 7 day CRM content material (using both e-mail and push notification formats) that made most sense to new users in their first week using the app. With that in mind, they've invited me to do the qualitative research and as an adventure seeker myself, I’ve accepted the challenge. In the end, the Sprint's participants were:

  • A Data Scientist that would be in charge of tracking the performance of each content that was shipped;


Challenge accepted and there I was, questioning myself which research method should I use… Well, Interviews are not an option since we need almost real-time data to understand if people have received (and remembered) our content on that day, if they have opened it and why they did it or did not. Questionnaires? Nope. Card Sorting? Nah. Suddenly I realize that what I needed to use as a method that was very new to me: Diary Studies.

Okay, the method was decided. Now it was necessary to think about what the dynamics of the research would be like. I did a quick research to understand the possible formats of Diary Studies and I thought that doing remotely by Whatsapp would be the best choice since we needed to talk to the participants every day and sometimes in real-time.

I WANT YOU (for research)

So I started the recruitment phase. We've decided to send an e-mail invitation to new users who had signed up in the app that day. There, I was saying that we wanted to understand how are the firsts days inside Guiabolso for someone who has just started using it and it contained a link to the application forms.

We wanted about 15 participants per platform (Android and iOS), but since we needed quick recruiting to start the research on the next day, we did not have enough time to recruit all of them and in the end, we had 11 people on iOS and 5 Android users.

The next day, the 16 selected users received an explanatory video on their phones about how the next few days would be and asking them to send me all kinds of messages and questions about the app and it could be in different formats like audio, print screens or even videos.

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A clip of my explanatory video (it took 3 years to film jk 🤪)


During the course of the week, I had the chance to talk to some very participative people, but unfortunately, most of them were quite passive, which made me have to go after them every day in search of information and that was tiring and a bit awkward but I tried to do it with humour and delicacy.

Because of this, I thought that I hadn't made the wiser method decision, but when they answered me I was able to find a pattern: almost nobody considered Guiabolso an application that needed to be used daily.

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Whatsapp convo with one of the participants — some of them were really passive

In addition, participants said they used Guiabolso only to check their balance and if their last purchase had entered their statement as if it were a control panel. I found this quite intriguing since we've always tried to build things with the goal of getting users to use the app every day.


On the other hand, I suddenly noticed a pattern among people that did come back almost every day: they were using the “Wallet” feature to keep track of their cash expenses.

Another thing I already knew due to our Data Science team's studies was that people that were creating their own expense's categories (that is, they were customizing the app according to their context) had a lot more chance of coming back on the next 7 days but most of the new users didn't know about this possibility at all.

That got me thinking that new users (and probably old ones too) would only frequently come back if they had some easy and quick tasks inside the app… just like the “Wallet” feature (which consists in just telling the app how much did they expend, when the transaction occurred and in which expense category it took place) or creating their own categories. However, our main problem was that the app hadn't much of those tasks available and when it did, most people didn’t know about them.


When the sprint was over, Juliana and I presented all the results for the product team and product managers. My considerations and advices were entirely based on my findings during the research and some of them were:

  • Users do not feel the need to enter the app every day — when they do they are just checking their finances (balance summary and statement) — “Control panel”;

After some discussion, our team eventually decided that I would now be in charge of studying the “Wallet” feature further to better understand how users were interacting with it and how we could take advantage of this opportunity so that users would come back more frequently to the app.

If you are interested in how this research was, you can read the case here.


The Diary Study methodology was very new to me and I didn’t find a lot of info on the net about it so it was tremendously frightening, even more, when I realize that people didn't feel the need to use the app every day! But it has certainly has taught me how to look at things in a totally different — and valuable — perspective.

Without it, I couldn't be able to know that Guiabolso didn't have enough tasks to make users use the app daily nor that the "Wallet" feature had the potential to bring them back more frequently. And it taught me that even when the research method seems wrong, just talking to users already makes everything worthwhile.

Don’t hesitate to send me a message, I’d love hearing from you and I’d never refuse a nice chat + coffee:


Written by

UX Designer and Researcher at Curious about every little thing and passionate about meaningful experiences.

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