MODULE 1 – Ideation, Prototyping and Testing with Prof. Patrick Hogan
Ideas are the most powerful things in human existence. Our lives are shaped by ideas and concepts. People believe in ideas. They also create ideas. “Ideation” is the practice of forming ideas and concepts. Before we can build a service or product, we must first “build” the idea.
There are great ideas and not so great ideas. How an idea is executed is important as well. The most successful ideas are those the creatives, designers, developers and stakeholders believed in. So in a way, when we discover what we want to build, we are also discovering what to believe in.
Building ideas is a lot like cooking, everybody has their own recipes and there are a thousand ways to be creative and generate ideas alone or with others. You can find a full list at this wonderful website called Design Kit http://www.designkit.org . I am not going to list all these methods in this post, as so many experts have already, but I will give you 5 categories that most methods fall into with some example practices that I like. To illustrate this point I have included a mind-map I made this week on the topic of ideation.
My 5 categories
The “generate” category consist of ideation methods where creative sessions actually produce tangible assets. These include but are not limited to sketching, story boards, provisional personas, lo-fi prototypes, color palettes and collages. Nothing get the creative juices flowing more than tangible problem solving through these types of exercises. Brainstorming is an art, and here are some guidelines for productive brainstorming sessions with colleagues in this video by Ed Muzio.
Often ideas are born in analysis. I am grouping together any ideation methods that involve taking a fresh perspective on new concepts or existing products and services. For example, this usually means challenging assumptions, breaking down a user experience into a workflow, card sorts, and exploring questions like “How might we…” Analysis is especially useful when the team is working on innovating an existing product or service with preexisting data and research.
Images are very powerful idea generators. The human brain is has evolved toward visual communications and processes images faster than words. It is the very reason why infographics are so effective. An example of a visualization technique would be the tried and true mind map as shown above.
Learning through observation stimulates the thought process and helps new perspectives emerge. Immersion has been proven to reveal ways in which users interact with your products and development teams learn from performance tracking, role playing, examining the differences between extreme and mainstream users. Nothing can be more eye opening than just talking to people, conducting interviews, taking field trips, reaching out to support reps.
5. Crowd Source
And finally, that eureka moment may come from the wisdom of the crowd. Take some time and review the analytics, delve into surveys and workshops. Review the focus group footage and see if you can find any insights, patterns and themes from the crowd feedback.
If you find that you have tried everything and have hit a wall, sometimes the best thing to do is take a step back. Let your subconscious do the work. Take a break but don’t escape, work on another project for a little while. Exercise, cook, mow the lawn (my personal favorite) and you might find that the answer or solution just comes to you and you are right back in the race.
The pressure can be high from business objectives, deadlines, financial pressures and other factors that impact the creative process. Recently I watched Julie Zhou Vice President of Product Design at Facebook give a presentation on her professional journey for AIGA. In her remarks she shared that there were three primary lessons she has learned throughout her career:
- You are not your user. Take your personality out of designing products for mass use.
- Your friends, coworkers and small test group are not your users
- Human beings need to be at the heart of the design process, their needs and desires. What is right for them is right for the company. Business goals are not always user goals.
Our first task in my Ideation, Prototyping and Testing class was to form and present an idea for a mobile app that will make my life better using 3 of the techniques mentioned in this article. After coming up with the initial concept, performing some market research, I fleshed out the idea using image boards, a flow map for the on-boarding process and role playing with my wife in a use case scenario.
“Civic”: Make Your Taxes Work | Your Government In Your Pocket Mobile App
I believe one of the fundamentals of a working democracy is constituents access to their elected officials. When there is a pothole on your street, or too many cars are speeding down the block and you would like a speed bump put in for child safety, or there is standing water from a clogged drain…who do you call? I envision an application that provides greater access to entities like your local home association, public services, local, state and federal officials. This app would also provide guidance on their roles, provide notifications, support voting registration and other key enablers to civic participation and engagement. With a focus on your specific local/county information, this non-partisan application would be a one stop shop to ensure your taxes are working for you and your officials can be contacted and held accountable. Currently there are some similar apps but the developers are marketing the platforms like “citizen lab”https://www.citizenlab.co/ to governments who pay licensing and support fees to manage the public facing applications with the selling point of greater efficiency and streamlining operations. There are also websites like “commoncause.org” https://www.commoncause.org/find-your-representative/addr/ that provide information about elected officials, but are activists in tone and nature. Civic would be a different entity in this space like Wikipedia or IMDB, simply an information provider with feeds based on the users interests given at registration and easily updated in user profile settings. A civic engagement application constructed on a Xbox cloud>>app model. The Civic service would combine all available databases, information sources into one dashboard and avoid any political stances or agendas. It would also ideally operate as a non-profit through user low-cost subscription fees and donations. See the full presentation and ideation process in this .pdf:
Resources & References
Introduction to the Essential Ideation Techniques which are the Heart of Design Thinking. (2019, July 14). Retrieved from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/introduction-to-the-essential-ideation-techniques-which-are-the-heart-of-design-thinking
Design Kit. (2019, July 14). Retrieved from http://www.designkit.org/methods#filter
8 UX ideation techniques to try out. (2019, July 14). Retrieved from https://www.justinmind.com/blog/8-ux-ideation-techniques-to-try-out
Ed Muzio. (2011, November 30). Brainstorming Done Right! Youtube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=127&v=9K8W4ooygUU
Charisma on Command. (2018, March 19). Elon Musk: How To Achieve 10x More Than Your Peers. Youtube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liJbB_0eCTo
Introducing Gamification Techniques to Idea Generation
Gamification principles for user engagement – Datagame. (2016, July 13). Retrieved from https://datagame.io/gamification-principles
AIGAdesign. (2017, December 15). Julie Zhou | Community by design built for you. Youtube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=nYj8DgKKprs
Journey mapping powers better design thinking. (2019, July 15). Retrieved from https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/journey-mapping-design-thinking
Brown, D. M. (2010). Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning (2nd Edition) (Voices That Matter). New Riders. Retrieved from
Bentley, F., & Barrett, E. (2012). Building Mobile Experiences (The MIT Press). The MIT Press. Retrieved from
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