A very important aspect in creative and design processes is the distribution of ideas and information. Seldom does a concept see the light of the day without continuous planning and revisions. You can jumpstart the whole process with more creative and productive brainstorming for your web design team. The concept seems simple, but a good brainstorming session often takes some work. If you are a leader of the web design project, you need to decide what ground rules to use. These tips can effectively spice up any brainstorming session for your web design team:
Think far ahead
Although we can’t predict when perfect ideas will come to life, a successful brainstorming session is usually planned well in advance. Set a fixed time for team members to share ideas in a specific session. Before a session commences, asks team members to prepare ideas and encourage them keep notes as new ideas flow in. Properly outline meeting results, so your web design team can prepare for tasks ahead. Make a brainstorming session an active participation meeting and ask people to bring pens and sketchbooks with them.
Ground rules for a brainstorming session should be direct, but still loose and light enough. Build on previous themes, showcase wild ideas, stay on topic, think visually and speak in headlines. Do one conversation at a time and be objective. Set a workable timetable and always honor it. Time is often the most valuable resource in any web design project, especially if your client is particularly demanding. A couple of hours are usually adequate and allow you to get to the heart of topic. You can use the first part of the meeting to spill out ideas and spend the remainder for refining the best options.
Invite enough people
There is no fixed formula for the number of participants that are needed to create a perfect idea. Keep the group large enough that you have plenty variations of ideas presented, but not so large that some participants fall into the background..
If your web design team is very large, you may consider performing separate brainstorming session for each sub-team. To achieve power in numbers, you may invite people from outside the team, such web programmers and people from the marketing department. These people can help you to think outside the box and sometimes can give you some of the fresh ideas taken from different perspectives. Even interns can be especially contributive, due to their less restricted thinking pattern and you should allow them to participate deeper in the experience. And at some point, participants should be allowed to work without the presence of boss and other superiors.
Bring and create visuals
People shouldn’t come to a brainstorming session with nothing but pen and paper. You should encourage each participant to bring an idea and communicate it to others. You can also ask the team to generate a new idea during the brainstorming session. Ask a group to develop a theme and ask another to choose a color scheme. When performed properly, it is possible to create a 15-minute visual. Although, you won’t actually use the idea, the short exercise can help the team to interact with each other and get into the same thinking pattern. Visuals can effectively represent the quality of teamwork and if the team seems stuck, the leader of the team can intervene by bringing creative ideas to the table.
Many of us came from a series of brainstorming sessions with tons of wonderful ideas only to find that we forgot most of them in just a few days. To avoid the degradation of ideas, get newly-generated ideas on a piece of paper and as the session progresses, build a list of outlines using proper computer software.
Use online tools and computer software
Use online tools and computer software to gather all important ideas and expand the team’s thinking process. Encourage the team to use software outlined below after a brainstorming session ends to help them expand on ideas.
• Pinterest: It allows web designers to create boards on visuals and share them to other members of the team. Anyone can look at the boards and add pins, so use this tool wisely.
• Moodshare: It allows web designers to create, search, save and share a variety of online information. It gathers data from Google, Twitter, YouTube, Shutterstock and Flickr to create mash-ups of text, images and videos. Moodshare.com is free to use and you can get integration with social media services. People behind Moodshare state that the software is developed for creative professionals, including web designers and allows them share work results to a group of peers and clients. The user interface generally looks intuitive and easy to use.
• Word Storm: It is a perfect companion for creative professionals such as web designers and writers. Type in a word to get a detailed description as well as a cloud filled with up to 100 alternatives for your word. You don’t have to register to use the service and it is completely free. Users can also export word clouds to PC.
• Springpad: It allows you to compile social networking, calendars and notes, all in one website. It has board concept similar to Pinterest, but more customizable and looser. Boards in Springpad can be accessed anywhere, because they are stored in the cloud. The registration is free and you can access the service on smartphones or tablets. Online connectivity is another neat feature of Springpad; it helps you send alerts, add links to projects and send reminders. Unfortunately, designing and navigating boards can be a bit clunky, especially for first-timers.
• Popplet: Popplet can help web designers immensely with flowcharts consisted of texts, images and videos in an expanding style. There is also an iPad app for Popplet and other tablet users access the online version instead. The iPad app is really slick and the registration is free.
Choose an interesting place to meet
Get out and try to hold a brainstorming session in a new environment if your team can’t get enough creative vibes in boardrooms. Public parks, coffee shops and many outdoor settings can be a wonderful place to start. Places that reflect the feel of the project should be more appropriate.
Don’t be afraid of dumb ideas
Take note of people with strong personalities in your team. As a meeting facilitator, you should keep things moving along and help some of the more outwardly passive people to present their ideas. Tell everyone that every idea is viable one and it never hurts to share it with others. During a brainstorming session, you shouldn’t set everything in stone as many excellent ideas can dovetail from crazy ones.
People should get their hands dirty and a few fun exercises can jumpstart their creative process. Brainstorming sessions should be loose and fun. Consider bringing some snacks or playing light music. Many people can conceptualize their ideas better through drawing and sketches, so you need to encourage them to do that.
Creative and brainstorming process work best when set in specific time frame. Allow everyone to interact leisurely as a group and laugh positively while tackling creative tasks. Follow up visual ideas and keep meetings on point. Online tools and computer software can help your team share group thoughts, for example pin boards can make it simple to track your progress.