• Alicia Leo

I've Always Been Told... Less Is More

Updated: Apr 17, 2020

It's true. Something that I have struggled with my whole life is being very verbose. My writing is typically not concise. In my grad school journey, this is the #1 thing that I am working toward - concise, but well-rounded writing. But that's not the only thing I've been working toward.

As someone who was a film & TV major, you already can imagine my journey to understand user experience research and design has not always been the easiest. I have gone into this experience of my graduate studies with an open mind to learn a new skillset, and it is generally a tough concept for me. But, I can say it has been really rewarding and has opened my eyes to the possibilities there are. We've gone through empathy, problem statements, and beyond. I've built upon each step and eventually will understand the process to make a well-rounded and well-researched product.

The subject of ideation and the different ways you can go about it is familiar to me. It's something we're all familiar with at some capacity, for example - brainstorming. In my personal experiences with brainstorming, I put the "bad" and imperfect ideas to the side so that larger and stronger ideas can be taken seriously.

Although I am not very concise, I try to focus on fewer yet stronger points in my work so that my argument or plan can be stable from the ground up. But apparently, in the world of UX research and design, this is actually not the case.

Sometimes, More is Better.

What has been difficult for me to grasp in this process is understanding that Ideation is about quantity and not quality. I read an article from the Nielsen Norman Group that explained the concept to me in this way, and it has been extremely helpful to me.

The biggest thing that this article showed me was evaluation stifles creativity. For so long, I have been only writing down the ideas that I thought were the best ones.

Using Ideation Techniques

It's all about adaptation and creativity. Using one ideation method could suffice, but trying to solve a problem with a few different tactics could lead you to a much more suitable solution because it is well-rounded and well thought out. There are many different ideation methods, but the three that I feel I want to focus on for this exploration are Mind Mapping, Brain Dump, and the Anti-Problem.

According to Interaction Design, Mind Mapping begins when you write a problem in the center and create a web of solutions and ideas around it.

Brain Dumping is when an individual sits down and begins to freely think, opening up their cognitive pathways, and expressing all the thoughts that come through on paper for 3-10 minutes. According to Interaction Design, this is done individually, but then collectively as a group, the dumps are shared and discussed upon for further ideation.

This, when done as a group, is similar to what the Board of Innovation calls a Round Robin. One person writes down a 'How Might We' statement and passes along the paper. Each following person writes an idea and elaborates on the idea of the person before them. When it gets to the end, it calls for a group discussion of a similar form. But since I am completing this innovation exploration as a single unit, I will go for the brain dump.

For the last innovation session, I decided to look at the Anti-Problem, which is the exact opposite of each problem I am attempting to solve. According to Interaction Design, "this may provide inspiration that you could not have gotten access to by focusing purely on the real challenge, though it may generate ideas which are still related to the problem space." From there, you can flip your solutions to fit the actual problem.

Maybe more really is better.

Like I said, I've always been told that less is more. But just like everything in my journey to learn about good UX research and design, I have had to think outside of the box. With ideation, I can see how more information is better, even if the ideas aren't the strongest.

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