Brainstorming For UX/UI Designers

Charlotte Miller

Brainstorming For UX/UI Designers

Generating innovative methods and cultivating fresh new ideas are a large part of the job of a UX/UI designer. However, it is always very challenging to keep great creativity flowing, so designers inevitably rely on techniques and tools that assist in manifesting new strategies. One very effective method utilized is brainstorming, a strategy invented by Alex Osborn to help people come up with new ideas without the process being inhibited by the restrictive fear carried by judgment.

So how does brainstorming work, what are its rules, and how are they applicable to a user experience design agency? Those are all great questions! Read on to find out.

Brainstorming Rules For UI/UX Designers

Any field that requires exciting, new ideas to continue growth and development uses the brainstorming strategy. So how can your design team use brainstorming to develop better, more innovative solutions?

Rule 1: Avoid Forced Participation, Allow People Time To Think

Most brainstorming sessions involve gathering people in a room and, with the meeting’s participants beginning to think of ideas. However, this method is presumptive that people have had a chance to think, which often is not the case. Before brainstorming begins, it is essential to allow the participants of an eventual brainstorming session to take the time to think of ideas, reflect on their thoughts, write them down, and then filter them by practicality. 

The remaining list is what they can then bring to a brainstorming session. This reduces the feelings of need for conformism and hesitation about speaking out in fear of having some underthought ideas shot down. Overall, this promotes a more precise, thought-out idea exchange.

Rule 2: Everyone Should Be Able To Express Their Ideas Freely

Reserving judgment of ideas in a brainstorming session is crucial to this practice’s success. Rankings, labels, or ratings of ideas our counterproductive, and denigration of ideas as foolish, bad, or negative in any other way at this stage, only serve to stifle creativity and prohibit the participants’ full engagement, which in turn, limits the possibilities and the potential for open discussion and refinement of ideas that could ultimately be innovative and productive.

But how long should this process go for? If the ideas are flowing, there is no need to stop! If the session goes past its allotted time slot, that’s ok. Though, the opposite can also be true. If the session has yet to end and participants are burned out, finishing early and trying to schedule a separate brainstorming session would be the optimal approach. Creativity cannot be forced, so if it is desired, accommodations for it need to be made.

Rule 3: Have Every Designer Offer At Least One Idea

Sometimes an idea seems impractical or inappropriate right after it is suggested, allowing for the temptation to reject it straight away. This is a terrible move during a brainstorming session. This will curb the hesitancy of some participants, who may already be shy about sharing their thoughts with others from not contributing. Even if the idea makes no practical sense, it is essential to hear everyone out. It is also critical to keep an open mind because some of the craziest ideas often become the most successful when implemented.

The best way to approach this is to allow every participant the opportunity to make suggestions. After everyone has contributed, people can share their impressions. This approach is called “circular brainstorming.” This method boosts opinion diversification and helps to drown out overly forceful participants who may try to impose their opinions on others.

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Rule 4: Quantity Over Quality

There are no bad ideas, and there are certainly no limits on how many pictures can be offered up. This is a case of “too much is not enough,” and while in most cases quality supersedes quantity, in this case, the opposite is true. It’s essential to keep in mind that the whole idea of brainstorming is to propose as many pictures in as short of a time as possible. The time for assessing them comes later. By allowing everyone to throw anything out there without fear of rejection, including bad ideas, some great, creative ones will filter through.

Rule 5: Record All Contributions

As with any other meeting, the main thing to do in brainstorming is to keep a record. But this record should not be limited only to feasible or practical ideas. This is not the place to pontificate on the best course of action or argument. The time to filter and separate these thoughts from successful ones to those that are not will come later. 

It is also essential that all discussion members have the recorded ideas available to them after the meeting. Once you have a complete idealist, you can begin working with the UI/UX designers to filter out the less practical and least useful ones, keeping the viable options on the list. However, the list should stay intact during the brainstorming session with everyone’s contributions, irrespective of ultimate idea viability.

Rule 6: Allow Retroactive Idea Additions

The brainstorming session ended does not mean that the idea generation has. It is entirely possible that given the list of ideas, a brainstorming meeting participant can generate a better version of one of the ideas provided or potentially a brand new one they thought of later. In the weeks that follow, allow 10 to 20 minutes per day or on some designated days to follow up with participants to see if they have generated any new, creative thoughts. 

Of course, the process should not go on forever. A deadline should be set to let team members know how long they still have to contribute brainstorming session thoughts before the active work on the project must begin.

Final Thought

By engaging with team members in brainstorming sessions, a project lead can boost the quality of both the product created and the process by which it is created. The tips and techniques mentioned above will help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the UI/UX design team members and allow the brainstorming participants to direct their collective creative input in the product they are putting together and supporting.

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