2013 SXSW Brainstorming Technology First Session

SXSW Series: Brainstorming Technology First

As we continue our individual department recaps following Pyxl’s visit to South by Southwest Interactive, Art Director Kervie shares seven helpful tips and four best practices from his favorite session….


“Brainstorming Technology First,” presented by Will Turnage

Successful online experiences require seamless integration of great ideas and solid execution by members of a project team. The objective of the presentation was to show attendees how to approach brainstorming for new ideas, products, campaigns and services by considering the specific type of technology for targeted users at the beginning stages of planning. To effectively achieve a memorable project or product take a look at Turnage’s helpful tips and best practices:

Seven Helpful Tips

1. Avoid traditional brainstorming, as it dilutes the purity of ideas, and takes too long. Instead, Whiteboard BrainstormingTurnage suggests:

      • Whiteboard– Write out all team member ideas to get them out in the open for exploration
      • Fill in the blanks– Find a way to connect two unlike things: My truck’s name is: (fill in the blank) and the first Instagram picture I took was (fill in the blank)
      • Word MagnetsMagnetic poetry – Spark your creativity by adhering words to magnets and use them to easily rearrange ideas and concepts

2. Put all ideas on the table for consideration before labeling them as good or bad, simply to open doors and keep an open mind. Then focus on the ideas that are promising, legible and interesting.

3. Ideas and execution should be considered at the same time, allowing you to cover more ground rather than simply thinking about new ideas and passing them along to production. Doing this allows users to experience an all-inclusive execution from your team on the project as a whole, from writing interesting content and creating memorable messages to developing a smart design strategy and fluid technical marriage with the design components.

4. Don’t compromise on ideas. One of the worst questions you can ask your team about possible ideas are, “Is it possible?” or “Can it be done?” But the best question you can ask is “Can it be done well?”

5. Ideas should be precise. Take the time to hash them out in great detail, then take a step back to reflect.

6. Embrace constraints. Turnage relates this concept to the way prisons are designed and what or how items are made accessible to inmates. Prison inventions are highly unique, clever and effective. Since prisoners have little to no access to materials it forces them to focus on strategic development and effectiveness given the limited environment. In the same way, evaluate the resources, technologies and content available to you and focus on how to strategically develop ideas within the limited environment.

7. Encourage practice. It takes time to perfect a process. But doing so will lead to greater efficiency and clearer direction!

Four Best Practices

1. Choose a specific technology that aligns with your strategy.

2. Don’t choose a broad OS or platform; instead choose a feature or function. Consider hand swipes, finger controls and non-traditional viewing angles of screen orientations.

3. Create user scenarios to predict problems and open-ended situations for creative exploration.

4. Don’t extend your brainstorming session past one hour. Take 5 minutes to discuss a specific problem, have everyone take another 5 to write down their ideas, then use the remaining time to share answers and expand on ideas that will lead to a solution. It’s important to remember that each member of your team is creative, has a diverse background, and can bring something new or different to the discussion, so be sure to include everyone in the project strategy.

The tips and best practices offered in this session boil down to collaborative teamwork. Improve brainstorming by including each team members’ ideas and consider the best solution that can be executed the most effective and efficient way.

If you missed part one of our series check it out Praise and A’s!

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