I am trying to compile a list of interesting/more tangible methods of solving UX/Creative problems - whether it be as individual, in small groups, workshops, in user testing etc...

I am already familiar with techniques such as using playdecks (e.g. Stephen Anderson's Mental Notes) and the Gamestorming materials.

So I'm thinking of methods along these lines...

Something that gets the designer away from the computer screen and bashing out ideas in a more practical, hands on, even seemingly abstract way.

Obviously sketching is the big one here that most of us would adhere to on a frequent basis.

Is anyone here familiar with other practices in a similar vein?


5 Answers 5


Design techniques that come in my mind (which are not solely UX). I tried to sort it from unsharp to more precise.

  • Brainstorming, which has its focus on throw out ideas rather than comment them. Collect ideas.
  • Use a Artist Diary where you sketch and write ideas that come into your mind. Always have it with you. Idea is a elusive and flawy matter.
  • Collect illustrations, art, cartoons, art books, gui snippets and screenshots, whenever you stumble upon them and start a sort of GUI collection. So you always have examples at hand.
  • Moodboards, for finding visual appeal.
  • Mind Map, is a fine for assoziation and connections of ideas around one theme.
  • Disney Method is a method, where you wear different hats and suround a problem by four phases of mood: first outsider, then dreamer, realiser and last is critics. Its quite close to Six Thinking Hats, where you literally wear six hats.
  • Tag Clouds, is a good tool for bundle tags or claims of stakeholders into a shared vision.

  • In case you take this Tag Clouds as a starting point, semantic fields open wide with help of synonyms, metaphors, association and etymology.

  • Sketching and drawing, for showing your "unsharp" idea.
  • Describe your idea in one or two sentences and become more clear..
  • Storyboard is good for visualise a behaviour or temporal scences. It gives a good feeling for your goal.
  • Method acting would give you more feeling of your user, but Im not sure if it makes sense for UX. It would be placed more in the beginning like moodboard or tag cloud is.

Edit: I found a good resource recently and want to share it UK Design Council has a comprehensive list of design techniques:

Assessment criteria, Being your users, Blueprinting, Brainstorming, Character profiles, Choosing a sample, Cluster and vote, Comparing notes, Customer journey mapping, Drivers and hurdles, Fast visualisation, Focus groups, Hopes and fears, Observation, Physical prototyping, Project space, Prototyping: experience, Quantitative surveys, Role playing, Scenarios, Scribble-Say-Slap brainstorming, Secondary research, User diaries, Workshop toolkit


Big fan of:

We use sketching a lot ... either (1) the whole team working in parallel on designs, followed by a review workshop with the client (the workshop is the 'deliverable', not the sketches themselves), or (2) even collaborative sketching that also includes the clients (based on the premise that 'anyone can sketch' and we are generating IDEAS not works of art) - the latter can be particularly helpful if working with teams of devs who have to implement the ideas later - helps them get a better appreciation and 'buy-in' to the solutions.

More about our process here: http://www.boxuk.com/blog/using-sketchboards-to-design-great-user-interfaces

  • I would second that. Found the KJ technique particularly useful when used at the correct time.
    – Sheff
    Mar 29, 2012 at 14:27

http://uxbasis.hellogroup.com has a good overview of methods including common ones (personas, ethnography) to less common (workshops, card sorting)


Alexa Andrzejewski's talk at UX Week 2011 had a few fun/good ideas video - scroll to hers (no direct link :( ). You can get the full slide deck here.

The main good/fun/tangible one:

  • Make Believe - get a bunch of friends (designers/team members), give them a random prop, and send them out in the world to interact with that object as if it's a magic __ machine

Something that gets the designer away from the computer screen and bashing out ideas in a more practical, hands on, even seemingly abstract way.

Get in a room with the team with a white board. Bring coffee and donuts.

In the various places I've worked, I've always found that setting to be the most enjoyable and productive UX work--especially when you can bring in other stakeholders as well...business line managers...project managers...analysts...dev team rep's, etc.

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