What is ideation?
Definition: Ideation is a part of the design thinking process, an approach focused on solving customer problems by understanding and empathizing with them. Ideation comes after the “ clarifying the problem” stage and consists of generating, evaluating, and refining ideas.
To find the best user-centric solution, the team comes up with a wide range of ideas from different perspectives, carefully selecting the ones they’ll move forward with. The end goal is to create solutions based on user feedback, not assumptions.
Ideation methods and approaches
The three most popular ideation methods and approaches are:
- Idea mapping
- Opposite thinking
Brainstorming is the most common ideation approach because it helps generate dozens of ideas quickly. During brainstorming, teammates are encouraged to say everything that comes to their minds regarding the main keyword.
- Quick and easy to implement
- Suitable for small or big groups
- Focuses on quantity
- Can be misleading
Idea mapping is a method used to connect ideas, structure and present them visually. It’s similar to brainstorming but requires the participants to be more concrete with their ideas, thus narrowing the options.
- Precise and structured
- Quality over quantity
- Can be too narrow
- Takes more time
Opposite or reverse thinking is a method particularly effective after dozens of ideas have been generated. The method functions by giving an opposite perspective on the original idea.
By changin the perspective, many new ideas could pop out that can help refine the original idea.
- Different points of view
- Concrete ideas
- Can be confusing
The first part of the ideation process is generating as many ideas as possible to approach the problem objectively and leave no stone unturned.
The first step benefits the company because:
- Unexpected ideas and perspectives can show up
- All team members are included
- Ideas for multiple projects can occur
Evaluating & Prioritizing ideas
The next step is evaluating ideas based on user needs, potential, the difficulty of execution, etc. The goal is to eliminate and select the idea(s) that best solve the user’s problems determined in the needfining process.
Refining the best idea(s)
Before moving onto the testing and prototyping stage, the last stage of the ideation process is refining the idea(s). This process aims to describe the idea as detailed as possible to help the later stages flow more smoothly.
How to prepare for an ideation session
For the ideation session to be successful, everyone should research beforehand. Market research and needfinding are essential to determine the customer pain points so that the new product can address the urgent issues.
Example of ideation
Mindmesh, your virtual desk software, has introduced a new feature, “ Recurring cards.” Let’s take a step back and explore a potential ideation process for this new feature.
The needfinding process has revealed that customers waste time noting down repetitive tasks, such as weekly meetings with clients.
Brainstorming: new features that could be added to a virtual desk software to help users manage tasks that reoccur:
- Recurring card template (the user can make a task recurring with one click)
- Task history option (the software automatically detects recurring tasks from the previous month and updates the board each month)
- Automatic routine creation (the software automatically creates routines based on the info from integrated apps)
- Task notification (notifying the user when a task reoccurs)
The ideas are evaluated based on priority, user needs, ease of development, etc. The team members decided that the “recurring card template” has a high chance of success because the user can control and edit the recurring tasks easily.
During the refining stage of the “recurring card template” idea, the team discusses the details of this new feature.
For example, the feature's appearance, internal options, and placement.