What is Ideation?
This week, we learned how designers go through the ideation process by brainstorming and sketching out their ideas by hand. We learned how sketching is a quick and easy way to document, communicate, get feedback, and build on your ideas. There are two main types sketching ideas: divergent and convergent. Divergent is more broad — the designer sketches whatever they can brainstorm. Convergent is taking an idea and building on that single idea. For example, a convergent sketching would be taking the idea of a skateboard, and ideating ways to change or improve it (i.e. adding a motor).
In studio this week, we were each given a sketchbook to practice ideating. In the beginning, we were given 10 minutes to sketch 10 ideas within the theme of “On Vacation”. This was the divergent part of the sketching, since we were free to draw whatever product, app, etc. we wanted. This exercise was more difficult than I expected. One minute per sketch was way less time than I initially thought, especially when we could sketch anything. I ended up only about 5 sketches the first round because I didn’t budget my time as well as I thought.
After sketching divergent ideas, we had volunteers go up and share their ideas. I was one of the volunteers, and shared my idea of “tour sunnies”. They’re glasses that have a built in audio-vibrator where you can have an audio tour while sight-seeing.
After the first round, we went through another round of sketching. However, this time, we sketched 20 ideas in 20 minutes — 10 divergent, then 10 convergent. Our theme was trash, so we were to sketch anything related to trash (whether that be recycling, pickup, reduction, etc). After the first 10 divergent sketches, we got feedback from peers, and decided on the most promising idea. Then, we took another 10 minutes to sketch 10 convergent ideas based on our initial “most promising idea”. This time around, it was a bit easier for me to sketch ideas; I think it’s because my brain was warmed up from the first sketching exercise that I was more ready to spill out as many ideas as I could. It was even more helpful to get feedback immediately after so that I could work off of my ideas and build on them.
I completed the actual sprint at home. I sketched another 20 ideas (10 divergent and 10 convergent) in about 30 minutes. I sketched while I sat in a cafe over the weekend, and I noticed that when I couldn’t think of an idea, I’d look around in my surroundings and take ideas from my environment.
For example, I noticed that I couldn’t see the drinks menu from where I was sitting and I thought it would be so much more helpful if I could just zoom in with my vision. That way, I could decide what I wanted to order before I went to the counter, instead of going up to the counter and awkwardly standing in front of the barista while I decided. Then, I thought it would be cool if there were zoom contact lenses that would allow users to zoom in their visual field, similar to a DSLR camera.
The most difficult part of this sprint for me was the time constraint. I think next time, I wouldn’t focus so much on the little details while I sketched (like different features for each product, and how the user can interact with it). Once I sketched an idea, I wanted to continue to build on top of my idea and I think that’s why I spent so much time on some of the sketches.
I really enjoyed this week’s sprint, and I especially liked how useful sketching is in communicating ideas to others. A lot of the times when I have a cool idea for a new product and I try to verbally explain it to my friends or peers, it’s hard to get them see what I’m picturing. It’s much more straight-forward to sketch a quick draft and explain an idea with a visual supplement. I sketched a lot for a mobile application design class I took last quarter and it proved extremely helpful in quickly communicating an idea and getting feedback. My team and I probably sketched hundreds of screens for our apps and it really helped us narrow down which ideas were the most promising and user friendly. In the future, I hope to pursue a career in UX/UI design so I have no doubt that I’ll be sketching ideas out often, especially if I go into app design and I need to sketch out various screens like I did in my mobile application design class.