The UX Ideation: What, Why & How

Every great product and service starts with a simple idea. And many a time such ideas go un-noticed.

Newton might have missed forming the theory of gravity had he let the fall of Apple go un-noticed. The awesome iPad Pro could not have designed and brought to life without the ideation for user interaction and acceptability test of smaller touch devices.

So, what is Ideation?

Ideation is an important part of designing User Experience. Author of “Evil By Design” Chris Nodder says – Ideation is the process of generating a lot of different ideas in a short amount of time.

In simple term, it is the documentation of starting nodes of a creation. And since it is the “starting node” of a creation, the team working on the UX design focusses more on the broad objective rather than going into finer details. Ideation is often targeted at generating ideas and problem solutions for the overall experience.

Why Ideate?

There is a solution for every problem, but no problem could be solved if you don’t know what the problem is? A “Well Defined & Figured Out Problem Gets Solved Far Easily”. Hence, it is absolutely essential to ideate before going into finer details of designing a product or service. Before you start coming up with ideas or asking others to do so it’s a good idea to pin down exactly which problem you’re trying to solve and what sort of space you want to explore.

How to Ideate?

Start wild. Start from anywhere. And, look out for quantity than quality. Gather as much information possible related to that product.

To begin with, let’s look at the possibilities. There could be two:

  • A product or service is being designed from scratch
  • Or, there is a ready product or a ready service which is to be enhanced further

In the first case, the UX designers start with recognising and elaborating the goals –

  • What this product or service is for
  • Who will use it
  • Why will one use it
  • How will one use it
  • What if this product is not made available, what one will miss, etc.

In the second case, the UX designers identify potential areas for improvement within the service or product. It starts with getting feedback from people who are using it or from the client who owns the product or imparts that service.

Questions that might come up are –

  • What is that working for this product
  • What is that not working for this product
  • Is the product or service self-explanatory

Honestly, it is not easy to gather such information, as most of people couldn’t really communicate what is not working for them. If the UX team feel they do not have sufficient information to identify potential problem areas, they should rely go with their gut feeling & experience. Most time, they reinforce their understanding and investigate the domain and product further. By asking questions to stakeholders or self or group working on the project you can at least start the ideation process. Things then start unfolding. Just focus on “core tool or medium, focal area & ultimate objective.”

For example –

Question:

What do you want to develop?

Answer:

I want to develop a online social network which help people connect with their real friends and help them organise offline meet-ups.

Here –

“Online Social Network”— is the medium or tool that is to be developed.

“People Connect with Their Real Friends” — is the USP & focal area

“Organise offline Meet-ups” — is the objective or goal

So, the ideation process could be start with some simple questions and respective answers.

What to built?

A social network.

Okay, and it will be for?

Friends. But real one.

Real one?

Yes, like people who are known to the logged in users. Not the random guys who send friend request and you accept just to increase the friend count, like you know… 🙂

Hmm… so how would the system know, who the real friends are?

Machine would not know but people would. The messaging should be clear like “Path” that this platform is for specific set of people. And then we could develop AI and could use “connections” hierarchy like LinkedIn do.

So, the ideation could start with asking a lot many questions and answering as many. This ideation technique may sound simple, but can generate extraordinary results.

In next blog, I would share 5 simple but effective techniques to ideate.

Pankaj is CEO and Chief Visualiser of Chhavi. He loves film making & traveling and wasting time on Twitter 🙂 .

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