Ideation and Design Principles

Brainstorming / Ideation

House M.D. - brainstorming
  • Generate MANY concepts as rapidly as possible.
  • Sketch - "..because of the limitations of today's available technology, brainstorming should never be done digitally; it should be done with paper, pencils, pens, markers, and possibly whiteboards and sticky notes."
  • Doesn't have to be limited to designers only. All othere stakeholders should participate.
  • "Rules" of brainstorming:
    1. There are no bad ideas.
    2. Stay focused.
    3. Don't spend a lot of time on any one idea.
    4. Use the whole room.
    5. No multitasking.
  • Start with a warm-up exercise - association game, mind maps. Point is to get brains, hands, and mouths engaged.
  • Set aside a fixed amount of time. Allow breaks. Ideal to spread brainstorming over several days.
  • Set aside most of what you know about the technical, user, or business constraints.
  • Focus points to brainstorm around:
    1. Pain Points: part of the process or activity is problematic or difficult.
    2. Opportunities: known places for innovation
    3. Process Moments: known steps in the activity
    4. Personas: focusing on addressing the direct expectations, motivations, and behaviors of one particular persona.
    5. Metaphors: sometimes, the oddest metaphors will uncover a previously unthought-of direction for the design.
  • Brainstorming techniques for interaction designers:
    1. Brainwriting: one person writes down or sketches the beginning of an idea. Others continue the idea one by one.
    2. Break the Rules: figure out how to break the constraints.
    3. Force Fit: distilling the problem down to two words that are in opposition, ex "intense peace."
    4. Poetry: reduce the problem down to a short poem. Makes you figure out what is most important.
    5. Questioning: start with a very general concept and keep asking two questions: how and why.
    6. Laddering: moving "up" to a level of abstraction or moving "down" to something concrete
    7. Swiping: stealing the best ideas from another field or domain.
    8. Bizarro World: inverting everything: opposite product, good is bad..
  • Organizing concepts. Picture from Dan Saffer's book.
  • Organizing the concepts: cluster, name, and sort all the ideas you've created so that it is easy to examine and discuss them.

Design Principles

  • "Mantras", "a set of phrases designed to help guide design decisions throughout the remainder of the design process - and even beyond, after the product launches."
  • Almost as design requirements, except they are general statements that should apply across the project. If you can't apply it to more than one feature, it's probably a requirement, not a principle.
  • Design principles are a combination of:
    1. What is known about the users, the context of use, and the design strategy.
    2. The best ideas that emerged from brainstorming.
    3. What the designer thinks is necessary for a successful project
  • The best design principles are:
    1. Pithy: a short phrase.
    2. Memorable: funny, witty, and provocative statements
    3. Cross-feature: should be applicable across the product
    4. Specific: easy to Use is not a design principle.
    5. A differentiator: if they can be applied to a competitor, then they probably aren't specific enough.
    6. Non-conflicting: with each other
  • You can use design principles as a measuring stick against the concepts you've generated to see which ones best fit.

References and more info