Posted on DEC 23, 2020
Design-thinking is a method of innovation popularized by the famous design firm IDEO and used by all creatives including UX designers and UI Designers in their everyday work. A key component of design-thinking is brainstorming: the process of coming up with ways to solve a problem. Brainstorming can be done alone or in a group including both designers and non-designers. When done as a group, it requires certain conditions to be met.
For optimal interactions, it is preferable to have between 2-8 people in a brainstorming group. However, there will be times when you will be forced to host with 10 or more people, in which case you will need to stay organized and focused to allow easy-breezy interactions. The UX Designer should inform participants beforehand of the topics to be discussed at the brainstorm, any agenda you may have, as well as how they should prepare for the meeting and how much time they should expect to spend in the brainstorm. This means that activities should be planned ahead of time in order to utilize the brainstorm time solely for that purpose.
The venue for the brainstorm also plays a role in the productivity of the group. You will need a quiet space, a big wall space for sticky notes, or a whiteboard and dry erase marker. Make sure to have all your materials ready before starting the meeting to avoid interruption. Once the team is gathered, make sure to share the rules of engagement.
The power and effectiveness of brainstorm are in the type of activities the group engages in. Here are a few exercises that Avani Miriyala, UX Designer from Austin, TX swears by: thirty circles, crazy 8s, and affinity clusters. The thirty circles exercise consists of giving participants a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting to draw on a piece of paper as many recognizable objects as possible from circles. This exercise stimulates the creative juice and opens the brain to a variety of solutions.
The “Crazy 8s” exercise consists of each participant folding a sheet of printer paper in half 3 times to get 8 rectangles on which they will have to draw ideas for a product’s feature or flow. At the end of the time allocated to the exercise, each participant will share his/her with the rest of the team. It is particularly a great exercise when the team is designing an app.
The “affinity clusters” exercise consists of the facilitator offering a guiding question to the team and giving them some time to write down their ideas. Once all team members have shared their ideas, together the team reviews the ideas to find similarities.
When it comes to brainstorming, the techniques are unlimited and UX designers are free to design activities as they see fit. You can read more about where UX Designer Avani got her exercises from in her full article.