Brainstorming & Story Development

Brainstorming is a process that most people have done in some form or other, most likely on paper to generate ideas. Indeed it is a powerful tool for coming up with not just ideas but solutions for potential risks and frustrations in developing a product. In this post, I would like to document two forms of a brainstorming exercise I have done for my PressUp live gig web app- a user centric or UX brainstorming, and a UI one. For this exercise, I have chosen to use Microsoft Whiteboard, a free and easy browser tool that allows me to write freehand into the app. It (pleasantly) also has sticky notes that simulate post-its commonly used in UX-research / design agencies . I would like to mention as well that Whiteboard allows sharing and collaboration which is especially useful in the the work-from-home Covid 2020/21 climate.

The process of UX brainstorming can generally be summarised in the following steps:

  1. Create Persona, User and Scenario
    In this music app, more of my user research has been focused on the musician, although the venue is an equally-valued prospective user. I think that this is because there are more musicians seeking venues than the other way around as pointed out to me in one of my interviews. For this reason, I have decided to brainstorm for functions and solutions based on my User Persona, Raoul who I created in my last post. My user profile and scenario (user story) is briefly described in the blue post-its of my UX brainstorm. Ideally, where time and resources permit, I could have done two separate brainstorming sessions on both musician and venue.
  2. Ideate
    I listed some of the user needs based on Raoul’s profile, on the post-its in yellow. Based on these needs, I rapidly came up with ideas or plausible solutions to meet them, as shown in the green post-its. At this ideation stage, the researcher should be as spontaneous as possible, writing down ideas, however silly they may sound because sometimes great ideas come from crazy ideas!
  3. Organise
    Third in the brainstorming process is to organise these ideas. By grouping the the needs with the ideas (as I have done), I could more clearly think my way through and solutionise. After all, brainstorming is at essence, documenting thoughts and ideas in a visual way.
  4. Solutions
    While step 2 tends to be a crazy, spontaneous process, this step is a filtration process of taking out the unhelpful ideas, and restructuring each idea as an actual solution to a requirement of the app that we are building. In a sense, this step focuses the idea on the goal (final product).
  5. Risks
    Thinking of risks associated with your solutions / ideas are important. While a risk-free design is probably impossible, it is useful to be aware of possible pitfalls and avoid creating functions that have a great a risk, and affect the overall usability of the product. I have come up with some risks in the post-its in red.
UX Brainstorming (ref: Microsoft Whiteboard)
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Having done this exercise, I would like to do a separate brainstorming for the actual UI of the final product. My aim in doing this, is to start to think about actual pages that I would need to create and develop, in this web app to achieve the aforementioned ideas and desired interactivity. In my UI brainstorm, I first listed out several key functions required in the app, based on my User needs: Networking, Communication, Showcase Music, Digital Press Kit and Reviews. The top row of yellow post-its are some core pages that I would need regardless in my web-app (ie. Homepage, Profile). Following that, I have listed some of the possible pages needed to achieve each requirement. Each requirement is colour-coded and runs in a row.

UI Brainstorming 1 (ref: Microsoft Whiteboard)
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Reflecting on the UI brainstorm that I did, some ideas are now on paper but actual web pages of the app are still unclear. It needs to be revised to be more concise and precise in each of the requirements. Where its purpose is to give structure to my final product, it fails to show any one page, button function etc. I have revised this in a second attempt:

UI Brainstorming 2 (ref: Microsoft Whiteboard)
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