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How do you go about brainstorming the right solutions in terms of coming up with user experience to address the validated problems to be solved for users

How and where do you get inspiration to determine how and what types of user experience to be built and fleshing this our in your user stories while writing PRD
4 Answers
Deepti Srivastava
Deepti Srivastava
Head of Product, VPDecember 13

Once you have a good picture of your target user persona(s), their goals, tooling needs, and pain points, design sprints are an effective way to brainstorm the user journeys and experience you want to provide with the product.

Design sprints, if run well, can be a structured, efficient, and a fun and inclusive way to get different team members to collaborate on the potential solutions. It's a good way to get input from designers, engineers, PMs as well as sales/customer success teams where appropriate.

It can be done in two phases:

  • Brainstorming solutions
  • Prioritizing the solutions (based on predetermined criteria)

There are a number of books and articles out there on how to run an effective design sprint. Or ask your design leads for help. 

766 Views
Hiral Shah
Hiral Shah
DocuSign Director of Product ManagementMarch 30

When thinking about Solutions, think they can come from anywhere - From you, from customers, from cross-functional peers, from industry, competitors, or from your everyday experiences with other products. Hence, it's important to keep you mind open and think of different things where you can get inspiration. When I was at Apple, I would actually monitor how kids used the iPhone (without any manuals) and that was the bar for everybody, how can you make it that simple that no one needs training. 

Coming to more of the process of brainstorming, we do a couple of things regularly

  • Regular brainstorming sessions: Holding quarterly brainstorming sessions with the immediate team. In the end allowing people to put the ideas in a 2x2 of effort vs impact. Then we allow people to vote so we have the buyin. 
  • Design Sprints/Workshops: If you don't know what they are, I highly recommend reading the book Design Sprint by Jake Napp
  • Common tools: I love MIRO for this brainstorming. 

Once we have the list of idea, we figure out the MVPs to validate them and I called this validating the solution hypothesis. Make sure you are married to the problem and not the solution

641 Views
Lindsey DeFalco
Lindsey DeFalco
Crossbeam VP of ProductNovember 15

Ah, brainstorming: it sounds so simple, but it can be so hard to do well. I've tried many different approaches over the years, and have found different ones successful depending on the company size, co-location of folks, etc. I'll go over my favorites, but first I want to touch on a few important pre-requisites to the brainstorming itself.

Attendees

  • Representatives from teams that will be working on the problem: in startups, this is likely almost everyone on product, design, engineering. At larger companies, it may be a PM, designer, and tech lead.

  • The people with the most domain expertise: PMs should always be experts on the domain, but you may be selling to sales people and have actual sales people who do the job daily in house - bring them in!

  • Customer success: so much valuable information lives with this team. I could write a whole post on ensuring you act on CS feedback strategically, and not blindly, but that's for another time!

  • Any leadership that cares about the topic and is excited by brainstorming. I'll touch on the latter in just a second, but don't bring leadership in who just wants a download of the result - it will drag down the mood and you can get them aligned after the exercise, separately.

The most important thing is that attendees are excited about brainstorming! I've held many a session with very apathetic, not-into-brainstorming teams, and it's tough. There are ways to mitigate this with how you run the exercise, which I'll gett to, but some people just don't love sitting in the ideation space, and that's okay, but recognize it, and choose your attendees accordingly.

Prep

This is really important and often overlooked. Make sure everyone comes in with the right expectations of the session, access to any read-ahead material, and the right attitude about what to expect in the session: be specific with the agenda!

Ensure everyone is aligned on the problem. There's nothing more distracting to brainstorming than live hashing out the problem you're trying to solve. If you need another pre-work session to get everyone aligned on the problem being solved, do that! But go into the brainstorm with a clear problem space definition.

Brainstorming Exercises

  • Whiteboard. My absolute favorite way to brainstorm is in a room with a whiteboard. Hands down. Even now, in the fully remote world, we will travel in and do live, in person sessions for big brainstorming sessions. This isn't always possible, but when it is - it's a great time and highly effective.

    • Give everyone a marker. Encourage everyone to hop up and draw things, even if it's just words and boxes.

    • This is more unstructured and works well for very small companies where everyone is incredibly aligned on the problem, strategy, users, etc.

  • Figjam. In this remote world, getting together in person isn't always possible. Enter figjam! We use a template that supports ideation via sticky creation, theming, and voting.

    • More specifically, for the UX portion, we have had a lot of success with the Crazy 8's exercise. It is a great way to force folks to draw boxes, a la whiteboard.

A few other notes:

  • Never underestimate the value of an incredible product designer. Their presence and ability to translate ideas into beautiful UX makes brainstorming more successful and more enjoyable.

  • I encourage my PMs to get into Figma and be familiar enough with it to move things around when brainstorming and solution-ing. Designers shouldn't be precious over Figma and PMs shouldn't be afraid to go in there and draw ugly arrows and boxes to visually express their ideas. (But PMs, please, make a copy off to the side and don't mess with design's final deliverables!)

After all of this: test, test, test, Talk to customers, watch them use your prototypes, let them tell you what works, what doesn't work, rinse and repeat.

There is a fantastic book on this called Just Enough Research. It's a quick read and an incredible playbook for doing "just enough" research.

458 Views
Paresh Vakhariya
Paresh Vakhariya
Atlassian Director of Product Management (Confluence)March 13

I am a strong believer in a user-centered approach and that can be the foundation for any brainstorming.

Some ways you can implement this too (in an organization of any size):

  1. Understanding Customer/User problems: A good understanding of the problem via customer interviews, Support ticket/feature requests and other feedback

  2. Quantifying user problems: A good understanding of metrics and how users are using the feature

  3. Cross-functional team: having a diverse team of PM, Design, Engineering and other roles are needed would help make the brainstorming more meaningful and well rounded in terms of outcomes that can be implemented.

  4. Early prototyping: we often miss this crucial step of building a prototype to test the ideas ourselves and with end customers and users. Maybe there are also some key stakeholders who can offer feedback.

  5. Assessing engineering effort: Evaluating the feasibility and effort involved in building the solution helps avoid costly rework later on.

  6. Usability Testing: Test the prototypes with real users to gather feedback from end users as well.

695 Views
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