When designing a diary study to do ux research, user research or customer experience research, it is handy to have the ACEO model in mind as a guide.
ACEO stands for:
• Activity – what are people doing?
• Context – what is the context of their experience?
• Emotion – what is the emotional impact?
• Outcome – what is the result of the experience on the user/customer?
These are the four main elements of any individual experience. Structuring your exploration along these lines of enquiry will help you fully understand what is happening and why.
Let’s look at these in a bit more detail:
Quite simply what are people doing or trying to do relating to your product or service at that moment in time? This is an easy task to start with and will form the basis for the rest of your enquiry.
What is happening at the time that might add a different meaning or interpretation to what people are doing? For example, what is their goal at that particular point? What frame of mind are they in? What other external factors are colouring their experience?
Daniel Kahneman tells us that emotional peaks are the things that stick with us most, that make an experience a memorable experience.
And research for the advertising industry shows that if people feel nothing, they do nothing. The IPA found that emotional communications are 12 times more efficient in driving market share. If it’s action we want then we have to make people feel.
So we need to ask: what emotions are people feeling? How strong are these and what is driving them?
Which leads us to our final element: outcome. We are not interested in user experiences out of idle curiosity – we need to know from a business perspective what this experience adds up to – either on its own and together with other experiences.
Only by tracking the outcome can we work out whether the experience was effective against any given goal and if and how it could be optimised.
Here we need to ask: what did people do next? Was this as a result of the experience? What was the influence of this experience on perceptions of the product / service / brand?
So there you have the ACEO model: Activity – Context – Emotion – Outcome, a four point framework for structuring your experience research diary studies.