Idea generation methods and techniques

Choice of design methods for design situations

Contents
Abstract 1.0 Methods Methods everywhere 2.0 Different Design methods according to the situation 3.0 User- Centered Design 3.1 Observational Studies 3.1.1 User Interviews 3.1.2 Quantitative research and survey 3.1.3 Prototyping and testing 3.1.4 UCD conclusions 3.1.5 Collaborative design 3.2 Brainstorming 3.2.1 Secondary research methods 3.2.2 Sketching 3.2.3 Collaborative design conclusion 3.2.4 Design methods preferred by individual designer 4.0 Brainstorming 4.1 Mind mapping 4.2 Sketching technique 4.3 Literature review 4.4 Observation 4.5 Importance of method and technique in coming up with great ideas 5.0 Conclusion 6.0

Abstract 1.0 When presented with a problem or a brief a novice designer faces the task of going through numerous ideas to find the suitable design solution to the problem. There are various design methods and techniques are available to the designer to use and make informed decisions during ideation and generate innovative solution. However the effectiveness of the design method is heavily dependent on the context in which it is applied. The aim of this study is to define and analyze different design methods and creativity techniques that can be adopted to generate ideas. The hypothesis is that, clear understanding of the design methods and techniques can foster in formulation of great ideas. Desk research method, literature review and Empirical research method like observation of real life personal experience are used to derive arguments presented in this report. The findings presented on this report can be used as a potential platform to base selection of different design methods based on the design situation in the question. The limitation is the report does not discuss all the research methods and techniques published in the design field.

Methods Methods everywhere 2.0 Design Methodology is defined as a system of design methods adopted by the designer to the specific design situation. Different design methodology is simply a reaction to different design problems. These methods comprises of tools, process and techniques to achieve the objective of the design solution. Although some of the design methods like 'Brain storming' and research methods like 'analysis' and 'testing' is used widely in many types of design , the selection of design method is critical to the design field, the approach and expected outcome of the design. Some of the design methods are: 1. Brainstorming. 2. Mind Mapping. 3. Secondary research. 4. Observation. 5. Quantitative research and survey. 6. Scenarios building. 7. Sketching. 8. Physical Prototyping. 9. Character profiling. 10. Focus groups, 11. Interviews etc These design methods comprises of design techniques which are nothing but the way of carrying out a task. The forthcoming chapter is aimed to comprehend how the selection of these methods can help in different situation to address the different design needs. Different Design methods according to the situation 3.0 There are numerous fields of design like product design, graphic design, interior design, architectural design, fashion design etc. Current studies on Frame work of design methods only respond to problems and situation in each aspect of the design. Therefore application of design methods corresponds to each design situation rather than generic to all design situations. Every designer has different approach while solving a design problem, however the stages of design problem to solution is common that is Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver. Needless to say different design methods can be used at the needs in the different design phase of the problem. For example User research and market research are conducted during the Discover phase of the design and prototyping and testing are usually done at the Development phase of the design. It is also possible to form a framework of design methods that are more appropriate for different phases of design cycle. However the aim of this report is to concentrate on the selection of design methods for different design situations. Design situation is not only characterized by the field of design and problem at hand, but also the design approach adopted by the designer. This can be well understood using the following design situations and proposed design methods for the same.

User- Centered Design 3.1 User centered design; UCD is simply a design situation where the extensive attention is given to the needs, wants and limitations of the end user at each stage of the design. For example consider the problem of designing a guiding tool for visually challenged person. The guiding tool will enable the visually challenged person to perform one or several everyday activity. The most suitable design methods for this situation would be: Observational Studies 3.1.1 Observing how the user currently performs work within their live context is very important in understanding the needs, wants and aspirations of the user. This is because users may not be able to fully articulate what they do. However their behavior is automatic. Instead of taking social and physical factors for granted, we need to observe the users with an open mindset. For example assuming that user only touch to feel the presence of an object in the room could lead to wrong choices in considering design solution. It is important to understand how the objects are perceived by the user by observing their behavior with the objects. User Interviews 3.1.2 Asking the user to understand how they perform what they perform and what they think about it. By asking the right questions, we can focus on particular user goal or task. Therefore this method is less open ended than observation. Choice of the question should lead the user in describing the needs about the particular user goal/task. For example questions about an activity of the visually challenged user could be focused on factors like the tool currently being used, the limitations and delimitations of performing the activity and user's perception about the activity. Using these questions we may be able to understand the requirement of the user better. Quantitative research and survey 3.1.3 Survey is good for getting quantitative information about a specific issue identified using the interviews. For example if the visually challenged user is not happy about performing a specific activity because of the need to use a tool that the user is not comfortable, then the survey question can be more direct about various aspect of the tool and the level of satisfaction about it from the user. It can give the bigger picture about the problem at hand. Prototyping and testing 3.1.4 Prototyping and testing can be useful to understand how the product can be used before creating the final version. Initially 'quick and dirty' prototypes are used to test a specific experience with the user. Later functional prototypes are used to test the full functionality of the designed product.

Prototypes are also useful in communicating design ideas to different users. For example, stake holders, other designers and end users. The idea becomes tangible and different aspect of it can be easily understood by the diverse user base. UCD conclusions 3.1.5 The user center design can also use other design methods depending on the situation, however the above mentioned design methods are more suitable in understanding user needs which is the primary goal of the user centric design. Collaborative design 3.2 In the current environment products are becoming more complex from the planning and designing perspective and design time is shrinking. There is a need to create innovative products with lower cost materials in the challenging time frames due to competition in the market. Collaborative design works best in this situation by breaking the sequential design process into concurrent design process where different teams with expertise in different fields who can contribute a great deal to the design solution. Collaboration design could be local to the company, or the company could partnership with market leaders and collaborate the efforts in creating the design solution. Let us consider the problem of designing comfortable first class sleeping experience for the upper class suite users of an aircraft company. The design solution needs to consider the whole environment rather than designing a fully flat aircraft seat. The most suitable design methods for this situation are as follows. Brainstorming 3.2.1 Perhaps the most commonly used design method is brainstorming. It is very helpful in generating ideas quickly and effectively. A facilitator is usually involved in steering the brainstorming session towards generating ideas. The more the ideas the better the brainstorming is. In collaborative design setting the good brainstorming can produce very interesting ideas. This is because the designer who has expertise in different fields can contribute to the constructive ideas for the design solution. In our example of designing first class sleeping experience, designers from service design, interior design, product design and fashion design could collaborate their expertise in coming up with creative design ideas using brainstorming design method. Secondary research methods 3.2.2 This is also widely used design method by the individual designers and students while acquiring information about the field of intervention of the design problem. Commissioning a third party to collect information is also considered as secondary research method.

In our example of designing first class sleeping experience, the aircraft company could collaborate with market research Company to obtain data about flat bed aircraft chairs available in the market and the user response to each type of chair. Sketching 3.2.3 Carlo Ratti an Italian urban designer uses collaborative designing approach and sketching is the most used design method in his lab. The power of simple sketching is always understated. The quality of sketching could never hide a great idea. This is very useful in communicating the ideas to diverse users like other designers, stake holders and end users. It is easy, fast and best suited method while involving collaborative design approach to the design problem. In our example, the interior designer could make some sketches regarding the first class sleeping experience and that could invoke ideas with product and fashion designers to come up with creative solution. Collaborative design conclusion 3.2.4 Prototyping is also best suited method for collaborative design, to avoid repetition it is not described in this section. Depending on the problem there could be other design methods and techniques which can be included in the collaborative design; the point being is that the design method addresses the needs of the specific situation. The need could be communicating design with diverse audience in which case sketching and prototyping design methods could be very useful. Design methods preferred by individual designer 4.0 When it comes to individual designer like me, the resources and size of the design problem is usually small. Hence any design problem at hand needs faster, easier and cost effective design solution. Having established these basic limitations of time cost and lack of resources not all the design methods could be useful and appropriate. The most common design methods I would prefer to use are Brainstorming 4.1 Brainstorming with fellow students to come up with creative ideas for each other's design problem is my most preferred design method. This is very effective because I found it easier to suggest to solutions to others design problem than our own. Brainstorming also helps in shaping the design idea into potential design solution. Mind mapping 4.2 Being a graphic designer this method provides visual map of exploring the problem into intricate web of thoughts, ideas and images germinating from single point called the center of the problem. Using random association the problem can be explored into different dimensions. Once done the bigger

picture of the mind map can be analysed to study the patterns and elements which can be associated to each other from different branches. For example while mind mapping the transportation of the old age people, one branch could lead to transportation methods and another could lead to needs for the transportation. However these two elements from the different branch could be combined together to form new definition of the design problem. Sketching technique 4.3 I prefer sketching for it is very easy and multiple variations of the solution can be created in short period of time. It is also useful to communicate my design ideas to my users. Literature review 4.4 This most used desk research method is generally used in my initial stages of problem understanding and exploration. My literature review includes consulting experts by mail or phone, reading journals, published research papers, watching expert's seminar talks and documentaries and news paper articles relating to the problem at hand. I usually maintain and excel sheet of links and comments to form a reference document so I can revisit the source if needed. Observation 4.5 User observation is already described in this report. I prefer this design method for it offers clear insight into the user needs and creates less disturbance to the environment in which the design method is used. Importance of method and technique in coming up with great ideas 5.0 Design researchers have long been cracking the code to coming up with great ideas. Good ideas are rare and great ideas are even more so. Sometimes the ideas come in flash and sometimes it takes great deal of time and energy. However design methods and techniques play vital role in nurturing a potential ground for making great ideas happen. Any idea starts with field of interest, and if for example the field of interest is new technology. Then research methods like secondary research, the literature review of technology journals could be very useful in knowing what is there in the market and mapping that to the existing problem a great idea is born. While Design method fosters the ground for the germination of ideas, the techniques can shape it into more tangible solutions. For example if the idea is about designing a product for a user, sketching or visual prototyping could be very useful in generating possible solutions in the form of visuals, where by shaping the idea into more tangible design solution.

Conclusion 6.0 The choice of design methods and techniques is very informed as well as intuitive decision of the designer handling the problem. Design methods and techniques are often customized to suite the specific design need of the situation. This customization has given rise to numerous design methodologies, process and design models in the industry. While it may be overwhelming to know all of them, it is vital to be aware of the most useful and popular design methods and techniques. Awareness is the first step towards creating innovative solutions to the problem, for we can make informed decisions. Design methods and techniques also helps in rationalizing the design choices which is otherwise very intuitive process. There are limitations to design methods and techniques for example user interviews may be revealing the current needs of the users but not the futuristic needs of the user. As a result there has to be a balance between the rational design methods and irrational designer choices while creating great ideas.

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