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Once you have validated, understood and observed your problem from the perspective of potential users, you are in a much stronger position to create a more helpful and valuable solution to their problem. At this point in our journey, it’s time to ideate on and prototype out a potential solution.
The third stage in the design thinking process is IDEATE. It’s all about sparking ideas for possible solutions and can be done via a range of activities like brainstorming and prototyping. Since everyone on your team has a different perspective, you want to encourage active participation and lots of ideas from everyone, even those who say they “aren’t that creative”.
At Codebots we talk about diverging and converging in scoping. We are referring to the different mindsets a team must have to successfully solve the problem. First, we diverge our ideas and go as wide as possible, then we must find a point of focus and converge back to something small. In our previous articles, we have covered the Understand and Observe phases where we were diverging and exploring what was out there. In this article, we are looking at the start of the converging, where we take all of the fantastic information and turn it into possible solutions.
Crazy 8’s activity
For the Climate Action App we picked the Crazy 8’s activity from the Codebots Activity Kit. This technique is best used when you need ideas to come quickly based on the insights you’ve gathered. The goal is to come up lots of ideas in a short, time boxed period, and not get hung up on specifics. You want to get those creative juices flowing! Even if the idea is completely crazy and out-of-this-world, it may still spark a slightly more reasonable idea further on down the track. There are no wrong answers here.
Typically, this activity is focused on a specific area of the app, not just general ideas. For this exercise, we ideated on how we could actually go about capturing the data from the users.
- Ask team to bring paper and pen to the meeting
- Fold your paper in half 3 times, so you have 8 boxes
- Set the timer for a short period (We did 60 seconds)
- Draw/write one idea in each box
- Repeat 7 more times until all boxes are full (8 minutes total)
- At the end of the exercise present your 3 best ideas to the group
- Give the designs to the person who is creating the prototype
- If requested or inspired, continue to ideate on one of your concepts
Time to prototype
Between the four of us, we came up with about 30 ideas in eight minutes, and it inspired newer and better ideas. The fourth stage in the Codebots’ scoping process is PROTOTYPE. Based on our ideas from the crazy 8’s activity and our research and interviews, our designer Jay was able to apply these insights to our first prototype.
Jay created an XD prototype which meant we were able to share it with the users and experts that we interviewed in part 3, to collect their feedback.
Importantly, the prototype was shared with the whole team as it evolved, including Jack (the developer). This meant we could ensure that the visual aspects of the prototype connected with the back end functionality that was being planned to calculate emissions.
We worked closely with our domain expert partner, Arete Sustainability, to ensure that as the prototype evolved, the user interface and presentation of data was refined in a way that made sense. The result was a gorgeous ‘Climate Rainbow’ that becomes visible when a user completes of all categories.
The design thinking process of understanding, observing, ideating and prototyping is set up in a way to keep the team problem and user focused. You work to validate ideas with real users and bring as much creativity as possible to the table, without overwhelming or confusing the solution, to ensure that the final product will provide the most value for its users.
Activities that facilitate idea creation and prioritisation from a diverse team allow for a better product in the end. It is important to keep in mind however, that ideas are easy but execution is everything, so stay close to your users and experts for the prototyping and development phases to ensure that your excitement for an idea doesn’t override the desires and needs of your end user.
Now that we have our prototype we are almost ready to go into development, but first we need to write out our requirements and estimate how long it will take to build. We will explain that process in the next blog: backlog creation and estimation.
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