4 Techniques for Developing UX Project Ideas

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Throughout the UX Design Bootcamp, we are faced with more than one project, each one requiring a search for themes and ideas. We will build our project little by little and, most likely, the first concept you had will evolve and iterate into a completely different idea from the initial one. All of this is part of the process and, in the end, it makes our projects well-built and useful to our target audience. 

When it comes to searching for topics or starting to develop them, we all go through a complicated phase of "this is not good enough" or "that idea is not good enough". Some find it easier than others to generate new ideas but, as you will learn, creativity is a muscle that needs to be trained. Don't let the search for an "incredible idea" consume what is really important: working with a theme that you identify with.

Before talking about some techniques that will help you unblock your creativity in these moments, keep in mind that the most important thing when it comes to coming up with an idea is that you identify with the theme of the project. You are going to be the creator and developer, so it is essential to find a topic that you like and identify with since, for better or worse, you will live with that project for many hours. What does this mean?

Analyze your hobbies, the things that make you happy, and also the things that you dislike. Dogs, cheeseburgers, yoga, online shopping, jazz, singing in the shower... it doesn't matter what comes into your head right now. You're in an exploratory phase, so acknowledge your tastes! Investigate and record them.

Try to find a topic that, just by imagining yourself working on it, will make you want to put in a good amount of hours and a smile.

If you already have the topic you'd like to work on, let's move on to the next step: brainstorming on that topic.

How do you develop an idea and turn it into a UX project?

The canvas on which you throw all your ideas must be extremely tolerant because, at this initial point, it's not about the quality of the ideas but the quantity. Let all the ideas come out, they can be dirty, badly written, or unfinished. You are in the idea generation phase and there are no bad ideas here. This phase is key to finding as many ideas as possible, among which you will probably find your final idea. As the process continues, look for new parts of the problem that you can transform into new and inspiring questions.

Here are some UX  techniques for brainstorming that might work for you:

  1. Trigger Cards 

Trigger cards are used for developing the mental process of brainstorming. They all start with the question "What if...", which allows you to explore ideas beyond the obvious. They can be used alone or in a group. Each of the questions opens a path that is interesting to explore.

  1. Reverse Brainstorming

Instead of following the traditional route of looking for solutions to a problem, look for ways to cause a problem 🔥. Think of ways to sink a process or make a particular goal impossible to achieve. In a typical brainstorming session, we would ask "how can I improve the user experience"; in a reverse brainstorming session, however, we would ask "what can I do to make the user experience so terrible that it causes my customers to walk away from my product/service". This is a very interesting way of using negative feelings as a tool for generating a positive solution to the problem.

  1. Divergent thinking

This type of thinking is very common in children and as we mature, almost without realizing it, we begin to lose it #whatahugemistake. It's about creating different solutions to the same problem by generating many possible solutions. The result? Unexpected connections. Technically, according to the theory, these "solutions" must be ingenious but often they are not 🤦🏻‍♀️. We get better at this with practice. One way to feed and grow this kind of thinking is through synectic exercises.

  1. Mindmapping

Mindmapping is a way of capturing ideas, exploring concepts, taking notes, and prioritizing information in a format that is easy to understand and retain. To follow this technique, simply write the problem/challenge in no more than 4 words and put that on your canvas, then ideate other words or phrases to that initial problem/challenge and put those on the canvas, then connect these to the original problem with lines. What will you get on the map at the end? Connections between ideas that did not appear to have a connection 🌀. 

Now that you have these UX techniques, enjoy the process, and don't make the common mistake of falling in love with everything you get in the first stage, I assure you that when you test them there will be many ideas you will have to say goodbye to.

If you are interested in the UX/UI world, our UX/UI Design courses may suit you. Check them out at ironhack.com.

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