Brainstorming for better designs

A group of designers brainstorming and sharing ideas.
A designer brainstorming and writing down ideas.

Individual Brainstorming

It’s often difficult to generate a large variety of ideas in group brainstorming sessions. People tend to “loaf” in groups and piggyback off of each other which limits the number of new ideas. Individuals might also experience social pressure to adopt all of the boss’s ideas, for example, which ultimately hinders innovation. Therefore, by putting some time aside to generate ideas individually — in a quiet boardroom, or as they come up throughout the day — we can ensure that everyone’s unique skills and perspectives are utilized more effectively.

  • Put the problem statement at the top of everyone’s paper.
  • Provide people with some constraints, such as having them think of three different input methods or drawing at least two images.
  • Take enough breaks.
  • No erasers allowed. Keep those creative juices flowing.
  • Divide more complicated tasks into separate brainstorming sessions.
A team going over each person’s ideas.

Group Brainstorming

Now that everyone has written down some ideas, it’s time to gather everyone together to share each individual’s list with the group. We should however be careful not to make this an evaluation, but to create an environment that facilitates participation and creativity.

  • Be open to sharing any ideas, even the wild ones.
  • No criticism or evaluation of ideas.
  • Aim for quantity.
  • Build on each other’s ideas.
  • Stay focused on the problem.
  • Don’t explain any ideas yet.
  • Revisit the research findings often.
  • Encourage each other.

What’s next?

After everyone’s ideas have been heard, it’s time to filter through them and choose about three concepts to prototype and test with your users. There are many ways to accomplish this, but referring to the research findings throughout the evaluation process is essential to ensuring a more user-centred and ultimately successful design.



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Karl Reitzig

I’m a South African UX designer sharing my thoughts on digital design and tech.