The obvi text platform turns a traditional diary study into a colorful, multimedia world of texts, photos, and videos...maybe even emojis too. 😎  You’ve got lots more options in a digital diary study: text, photo, or video responses. But which media option is best for your question? Which requires the most and least effort for your participants, and for you? What’s the right overall mix for your research plan?

Here are some quick tips on how to get the most out of your next digital diary study with the three types of responses—text, photo, and video.

Text: Low effort + short response time
Texts are colloquial and candid. Participants will give in-depth, informal and often very raw responses through text. Text is a great way to tackle more sensitive topics too. Don’t forget about emojis, which let participants describe feelings that simply cannot be put into words.

Sample text assignment: Tell us about your daily work commute. Feel free to add an emoji too!

Photo: Medium effort + medium response time
Photos let you see life from your participants’ eyes. Photos give you more perspective on the context of their lives and the things that matter to them. They will also have additional clues in them that uncover new needs.

Sample photo assignment: Send us two photos that best capture your daily commute.

Video: High effort + longer response time
Videos help you understand participants’ environment and attitudes. Video will typically take the longest for participants to complete of the three, since they may need to set aside time to make the video.

Sample video assignment: Show us what you carry with you on your commute and tell us about each item.

We even made a handy drawing (gotta love a good 2x2!).

Diary study response by time and effort
Type of diary study response by participant time and effort

Successful diary studies means that you get new insights and your participants walk away feeling good. Be careful not to exhaust your participants (or yourself!) by always asking for high-effort assignments. Focus first on the research question and then choose the media response. Balancing out the effort across your research plan will keep participants happy...and get you better insights.