ux ideation techniques

6 Less Known UX Ideation Techniques (Updated 2021)
by Tim Moad
13 Dec 2020
13 min read
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Ideation is the step where you, as a designer, generate a large number of ideas. These ideas are diverse. The main intention behind developing these ideas is quantity and not quality. This step helps in formulating solutions to identified problems. To make this possible, you have to suspend all your judgments. To get a large number of ideas, you should make sure that each person work on the project has a voice at the table when you are in the process of putting forth new solutions. Ideation is a process where novelty is preferred over relevance. A few methods to do this step are using mind maps, brainstorming, game storm, charettes, storyboards, skits, sketches, etc. This blog will help you to gain more profound information about ideation and how you can do it in the design thinking process. Read on to learn about


  1. Actively Facilitating Brainstorming Sessions
  2. Challenging assumptions
  3. Mind Map
  4. Storyboard
  6. Creative Pause 


One of the best ways for a proper ideation process is organizing brainstorming sessions. This quick video explains the procedure for a good brainstorming session. Make sure to read the entire blog after watching this video to understand the Ideation Process better.


To be able to ideate, you must first complete the first two steps of design process thinking, namely:

  1. Empathize
  2.  Define


Empathizing is the process of getting to know your users and their problems using various methods such as direct interviews, analogous empathizing, remote recording etc. 

In the Define stage, you will use all the data collected in the Empathizing step and try to make conclusions from it, finally leaving you with a problem statement to focus on. 


A problem statement is a concise description of a problem that the user is facing, and design teams use this to generate solutions for the issue. Once your problem statement is ready, it is time for you to start the ideation process. 


The first step in this stage is to reframe the problem statement into a question that asks, "How Might We?". For example: 

How might we design an app that uses other methods to verify the transactions other than using FaceID or fingerprints saved previously in the system? 


This is the part where you will again begin to divide the question into smaller fractions to get feasible solutions.


Actively facilitating brainstorming sessions are essential so that the participants taking part in it can get equal opportunities to voice their opinions. This should ideally be done in an environment where every participant feels equal. It is also beneficial to have one person in the room to note down all the ideas. Ideally, a round-robin where thoughts are expressed by everyone present in the room is the most efficient way of getting through this process. This will motivate more people to participate and avoid negative experiences. Once, all the ideas are listed, it should be left to the participants to choose the best, most feasible, novel idea amongst all. 


During brainstorming, there are few other things that you need to keep in mind such as 

  1. Setting a time limit
  2. Starting with the problem statement
  3. Staying focused
  4. Encouraging unusual ideas and building on them
  5. Aiming for quantity 
  6. Deterring from judgement and criticism. 


Are you new to the field of UX? I have recently launched a UX Guide helping new designers get on the fast track of their UX Journey! Make sure to check it out! 


Challenging assumptions is a way of finding out new things about the product by asking important questions to yourself regarding assumptions you have about the product or situation that you are trying to improve. It is suitable when you have exhausted all the ideas and are cemented in current thinking patterns. Whatever you assume to be obvious and apparent about the product can sometimes be hidden to your users, these hidden factors can be brought to light by challenging your assumptions. 


Mind map is a graphical tool where the participant takes notes, and it helps to highlight important facts, show overall structure and the relevant importance of individual parts. It is useful to form a connection between the ideas. The easiest way of doing this is by writing the problem's key phrase in the middle of a page and asking the participants to come with solutions and ideas for this. All these ideas should be noted down around the phrase. The phrase acts like an anchor where it allows different ideas to surface while keeping the discussion grounded to a particular theme. At the end of mind mapping, participants connect the solutions with ideas. 


Storyboard is the method of developing stories relating to the problem, design or solution after empathizing with the customers. It is a visual tool and assists in representing information that is obtained during the research stage. Using Aristotle's "Seven elements of good storytelling", you can create stories that build tension, include unexpected surprises to evoke emotions and solving the tensions eventually while leaving the user happy. 


SCAMPER is an abbreviation for:


  3. ADAPT


 It technically refers to a series of questions that help you to make innovative changes to an existing product by considering things from different perspectives. The most asked questions in this step are: 


  1. How can I substitute in such a way that it makes a positive change?
  2. Can I use other ingredients or materials? 
  3. Can I merge this with other important parts? 
  4. What exactly should I combine? 
  5. Which processes do I need to adapt? 
  6. Does the history of this product offer any contribution to the solution? 
  7. Can I add extra features? 
  8. Could I expand the target group? 
  9. How would someone with no knowledge of this product use it (difficulty level)? 
  10. How can I reuse some components? 
  11. Are there other ways than the existing ones to use the product in its current form? 
  12. Can I mitigate certain components? 
  13. Can I eliminate certain rules? 
  14. What should I eliminate without altering the primary functions of the product? 
  15. What would I do if some issue worked in reverse? 
  16. Can I change the schedule? 


This is a lateral thinking method which enables the designers to challenge the status quo and explore fresh horizons. 


creative pause is to take some time off from generating new ideas. It is necessary to allow designers to take creative pauses as it helps in getting them out of the current thinking paradigms. Creative people often need a break to connect the dots backward. Best ideas emerge when one is looking at them from afar rather than is clinging on. Creative pauses allow in coming out of a creativity block. A creative block is a real phenomenon that occurs when one has been working on something for too long. A refreshed mind is an excellent way to extract designers from the cognitive traps that they're in. One of the most significant advantages of taking a creative pause is that it leads to proactive thinking rather than reactive thinking. 


Below is a list of other methods that can be used for ideation:


  1. Cheatstorming
  2. Provocation
  3. Synectics
  4. Visualization
  5. Forced relationships
  6. Braindumping
  7. Brainwalk
  8. Brainwrite
  9. Worst possible idea
  10. Bodystorming
  11. Gamestorming
  12. Co-creation workshops
  13. Crowdstorming


Feel free to reach out to me on my Instagram if you wish to understand any of the techniques above in depth. I am offering a free consultation for a limited period. This consultation allows emerging entrepreneurs and aspiring UX designers to conduct the ideation process for their teams.


The ideation process is a vast and flexible step. There are many ways of approaching ideation, but you must choose the right ones depending on your requirements and needs. 

There are a few methods that will help you to choose from the pool of relevant ideas. This selection can be made using methods such as:

  1. Post-it method where the participants are given post-it notes on which they are supposed to write their ideas. These notes are then posted on a board and participants are asked to vote by drawing dots on the post-it notes which appeals to them the most.
  2. Four categories method is a method where the participants will have 4 options namely: 
    1. Most Rational
    2. Most Delightful, 
    3. Darling 
    4. Long shot. 


Participants are supposed to divide the ideas into these 4 groups so that it becomes visible which one is the most innovative and practical solution for the current scenario and what is beneficial in the long run. 


The Proto Process is my initiative to help people have a glorious career in the field of UX. UX Design is a rewarding career opportunity that offers satisfying work. A UX designer can impact businesses and their customers in the most significant way possible. If this is something that interests you and you wish to learn more about it, feel free to get in touch with me! I will be more than happy to help you with your UX journey. Don't hesitate from adding me to LinkedIn and following The Proto Process! I give daily UX related tips on Instagram and Twitter, making sure you are always learning. 


There's more! I have recently launched a UX Guide helping new designers get on the fast track of their UX Journey! Make sure to check it out! 

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