Design Process For Pros

Ideation and Concept


Once the Strategy and Discovery phases are over and the proper research has been done, it is time to get to the Ideation phase. Thanks to all the data gathered in the previous steps you have a strong, solid base which will let you proceed to specify the concept of the Product and describe in detail:

  • Who (what user groups) the product is going to help
  • What problems it is going to solve or what needs it is going to fulfil
  • How (by what means) it is going to do so.

This is the moment when the initial idea gets crystalized into a more tangible and granular vision of the Product based on real data and not just initial assumptions. In this phase, you generate multiple solution ideas and structure them. This is also the time when the big requirements are agreed upon, and the overall direction for the development is chosen.

The main goal of the design process is not just to create pretty pictures or satisfy the subjective feelings of various stakeholders – the primary goal is to fit the client’s business goals with users’ goals by delivering an accessible, usable, and attractive product. We want to make a product that not only looks great, but, more importantly, also works great, and seamlessly meets (or even exceeds) users’ expectations. The Ideation phase helps with that by equipping the client with the necessary information in order to make decisions about the future shape and direction of the product. It also leads to preparing deliverables that will serve as an anchor to keep the whole team on the same page every step of the way.

How to run ideation & concept

There are quite a few methods you can use in order to put the product concept together in a digestible form. You do not need to use all of them in the same project, but you might consider choosing a few of them, depending on the context of the project, the work that has already been done, and the complexity of some elements which need clarification. The goal here is to prepare a solid foundation for further design work in order not to e.g. have to wonder about basic product issues like what the core feature should be while already wireframing.

Tools At this stage you can use a range of tools. It all depends on the specific case, context, and what you currently need. Not only is the list of tools long, you can also create your own tool, or make some modifications to existing ones. There are a lot of tools and methods that are helpful at the ideation and concept stage, to name a few:

  • Value Proposition Canvas,
  • Personas,
  • Service Blueprint,
  • Customer Journey Map,
  • User scenarios/stories,
  • User flows ...and many many more.

Desired outcomes of this stage

Whether you choose to prepare a short report with the synthesis of the concept or just gather the deliverables in one place, it is always good to summarize this phase and communicate it to the client to make sure everything is ready for the next stage of the process and that you have left valid artifacts for the next team members that might be working on the project in the future.

The output can be in the form of:

  • A report (you can use a presentation template)
  • Artifacts of the methods you selected (e.g. User Personas, Customer Journey Map, etc.)

Make time for a presentation of your work. You are doing this because you care about the client’s business – remember about the importance of presentation. Keep it short and present it like a pro, because time is money. Your professional expertise, your knowledge, and your product design experience determine how you will deliver the client’s product to the world. It is essential to help the client decide what the best solution is. Prepare for the meeting using the tips described in the Chapter 1: Communication tips.

Questions to ask yourself at this stage

  • Have I taken into account all the data gathered in previous steps?
  • Did I manage to form a clear concept of the Product in a presentable form?
  • Has the concept been defined well enough?
  • Do I understand the product and its features?
  • Do I understand the product’s business goals?
  • Has an important decision been made by the Client about the direction of further design?
  • Is it clear exactly what problems of what user groups the Product will be solving?
  • Does the proposed direction take into account the Client’s timeline and the idea of the business value?

Questions your client may ask

Why do you have to spend time on ideation and concept instead of designing?
How long will it take?
What is the output of the ideation and concept phase?
We don’t know so much! Does it make sense to continue this project?
What are the benefits of Ideation & Concept exactly?