Final Project: Competitor Research + User Stories

For my final project I wanted to do a digitized online diary app. I am interested in how it is different from the old-fashioned book form, so I looked into it from different perspectives of digital phenomenons, and posed related questions to myself.

Competitor research:

In terms of content…

Content could be said as the most important part of a diary. In the old days, physical, paper diaries are ritual-like, where people spared a specific amount of time to look back the day and write down the reflections. But people today don’t have the American time to do so, and thus the online diary website It allows users to write short thoughts down besides documenting big events, but restricted to five posts a day. It makes sense as in the five can be representative. But if the intention is to appreciate little flakes that sparkle through our head in the instance, why put a limit to the number of posts?

Another app called Day One is a very famous journaling app for iPhone. For a single entry, the user can submit up to ten pictures, and design the entry style itself. The best part is that it has all the meta-data, including location, weather, etc. that comes along automatically when the user is editing an entry. (I realized that I deleted the word “typing” and used ‘editing” instead for that diaries today can go very far in content forms.) There are a lot of other functions like setting reminders and exporting diary, unlike that has few.

The question here is that, whether quantity affects quality for a journal entry, and whether does it encourage people to be more active or actually discouraging people to even use it.

In terms of usage…

There are now various kinds of diaries that dedicate to specific usages, such as diet diary, cooking diary, etc. This may cause the distinction and changes to the usage of a normal diary.

In terms of security…

Journalate is an online diary app that uses “industry leading security” which ensures that only the user can see his/her own entries, as being said on their official website. It also has this really convenient function, if one is a premiere member, where posts from Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram can be imported. Sounds cool, but wait a minute…isn’t this a contradiction? As a user, if I want to keep my diary private, why would I want to link it to famous social media platforms where literally nothing is safe? And is it even possible for things to be safe online? What is the meaning of being highly secured, and what is the definition of having a private diary?

In terms of diary trends…

I found Tumblr on a list of top 7 free online diary websites to keep online. This is interesting because in my conception Tumblr is mostly people posting ironic or funny statements or memes, and then others re-posting and commenting them. In the case of my younger sister, most of “her entries” are saved posts from others whom she follows or likes, really nothing original or personal from herself. What’s good about Tumblr is that it is organized by hashtags, so users can easily navigate through different entries that has similar topics, which sounds familiar of other social media platforms and in fact, according to the list, Tumblr is an extremely popular micro-blogging platform. Therefore, it seems that nowadays “writing diary entries” has somehow been connected with “blogging,” while the goal shifting from merely documenting one’s life to sharing and getting more likes. Fact 2: Many online diary apps look almost 100% like WordPress. Well, that is not where I want to go to.


I feel like because people expect more and more functions from a single app, that eventually diaries are like posting a blog post, like this documentation. In fact, this is the biggest question that bothers me the most now. Chuyi also told me in the prototype workshop that, software like Evernote can be used as a diary, too, at least for her. So, how am I going to make my diary app unique? A lot of features I have come up with are already practiced in some real apps. What do the users expect from a diary app, and, do they even need one, is the question I have to constantly ask myself.

A friend of mine told me that to make a successful app is to make it close to home (attacking the main issue that drives a user to use the app). I think the answer to diary is the lack of long-lasted interest. Take me as an example, I may start to write a diary with lots of passion but quit doing it after two months. To attack this, the approach I will make can be seen below in the user stories.


User stories:

(This part may slightly change throughout the process, but the main goal and focus should not be changed.) Here is a short post on my idea.

  1. As a user, I can type in my password that I set to enter my personal diary on this app.
  2. As a user, I see a default layout of my entries placed juxtaposed in chronological order, or in calendar view, or in any groupings that I make.
  3. As a user, I can add and edit a new entry by pressing the “+” button on the bottom-middle.
  4. As a user, I can click on any entry to open it and view its content.
  5. As a user, I can search an entry by its title, content, date, and groupings.
  6. As a user, I can only delete but not edit the submitted entries. However, I can add comments, or follow-ups to be more precise, under the original post.
  7. As a user, I can create special groupings of entries based on anything, ex. these entries are all about a specific person; those entries are all about fighting with my family.

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