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Last updated on 5/18/20

Explore the problem

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Having a clearly defined problem will make the rest of the process smoother. Once you've conducted your interviews, the rest is not magic. There are tools we've explored in past courses such as personas, journey mapping, and scenarios to help you get to the next step. In this chapter we'll add two more techniques to your toolbox, and revisit some we've already talked about. Now let's explore concept maps and imagining impossible solutions.

Concept maps

Chances are after conducting your interview you'll uncover more than one problem that you could solve through your app. You're creating a basic app, so you're going to eventually want to focus on one solution; sometimes doing one thing really well is far more effective than trying to do everything.

Concept map that looks like a bubble chart or mindmap to explore ideas based on interview.
Based on my interviews, I created a very unstructured concept map of ideas and considered how they may relate.

Concept maps can be a helpful tool for exploring ideas before you pick one. Concept maps work like mind maps where you can explore key ideas by putting key words or ideas in bubbles, and linking them together with lines. As you're sketching this out put the more important ideas in bigger bubbles.

Like all tools, concept mapping approaches can vary by the company, and where you are in the design process. Cooper presents concept mapping as a tool for workshops to uncover the users mental model.

Concept mapping [2:32 min]

At the end of this mapping exercise, if you're still torn as to which direction you'd like to pursue you can always go back to your interviewee with a few follow up questions, or suggest a couple options for them and get their QUICK feedback. For the purposes of this chapter exercise, we're just looking for simple concept maps.

Impossible solutions

It's tempting to start designing solutions right away, but that is not going to get you to the best – or most creative – solutions.

This exercise is aimed to help you "think outside of the box" and remove all judgment.

The exercise of imagining as many impossible solutions as possible is extremely valuable in order to help you think about the problem differently. You may pull inspiration from completely different projects or from your imagination. You may end up combining completely unrelated ideas in a whole new way. It's not until you give yourself permission to go a little crazy that creativity can be fully embraced.

Small sketches with descriptions that explore unlikely ideas.
To get myself thinking creatively about themes that emerged in my concept map, I quickly sketched some silly ideas and "impossible solutions".

Impossible solutions can be expressed in words, but I think sketches are a fun way to create a visual reminder of creative possibilities as well.

The App Idea Generator is a funny way of seeing how different services and ideas can be paired.

Personas and user stories

Personas and user stories were covered in Dive into UX Design. Here's a quick refresher:

Typically personas are a compilation of multiple users that capture the goals, motivations, and behaviors of target users. For the context of this mini project we're looking at one user. Things you should consider:

  • Profile/demographic

  • Characteristics/behaviors/habits (did you ask your user about their online habits during their interview??)

  • Frustrations

  • Needs 

Simple persona.
For the sake of this quick moving app exercise, I created an extremely simple one by folding a piece of paper into four quadrants.

User stories can use a variety of different "formulas" or templates. For this exercise the format I used was to complete the sentence:

"As a user, I would like to (action) so that I can (success criteria)."

Three statements framed as user stories.
Here are a few user stories I imagined based on my interviews. They all fulfil the problem statement that we defined.

You can always return to the person you interviewed and see if they agree with the statements you wrote or ask additional questions. From there you can refine them as needed.

It's your turn!

We're moving quickly through this process. Don't over think it! You'll be surprised by how much you can accomplish in a short amount of time. (Speed and efficiency is also something employers will appreciate, so you may as well "fail" while you're still a student ;)  and learn from these experiences instead of trying to be perfect).

  • Set your timer for 10 minutes. Create a concept map exploring the key ideas that came up during your interview.

  • Set your timer for 5 minutes. Come up with as many impossible ideas as you can. You should come up with a minimum of 6!

  • Set your timer for 10 minutes and write down the qualities of a persona.

  • Set your time for 5 minutes and write down 3-5 user stories based on your interview and problem statement.

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement