Visualize Ideas, Even If They Could Be “Bad”

As designers, our intuition and judgement take a big part when it comes to evaluating our own design ideas.

Sometimes, I kill ideas when they’re still in my head: a few ideas appear, and my brains give it a rough mental check — the look, how it works, pros and cons:

— This doesn’t solve my problem.

— That would look bad.

— Yep, this one seems better.

I ended up only visualizing the “good enough ideas” — those pass my mental check — onto screen/paper.

The problem with that is several fold:

1. Are those killed ideas really “bad ideas”? What if my mental check criteria has some flaws?

2. I lose the opportunities to iterate on those seemingly “bad ideas”. Some of them may be iterated and turn out to be amazing.

3. In a design group critique setting, if someone asks about a bad idea I’ve killed and lists reasons I’ve never thought about, my mind goes blank — ugly moment *cough

Visualizing an idea on screen/paper could help you think more clearly. You can also go a step further, by listing out all pros & cons. This helps you to truly check whether you have valid reasons for them.

If you need a quick trip to coworkers and get their input, now you can present them something to see. Most people can have a hard time to imagine ideas in their heads, therefore, visualizing it helps them to understand, and helps you get perceived as a good communicator.

If a coworker suggests an idea you killed, you can calmly show them what you’ve experimented, and say “I’ve considered it, it doesn’t work because of bla bla. Anything I missed?”

Visualizing ideas is especially cruicial if those seemingly bad ideas come from someone else’s suggestion. Of course, some ideas obviously do not work, presenting reasons in a calm, objective manner help the other person realize the reasons why — it doesn’t work because it will negatively affect other parts of the application; it doesn’t work because it’s against the product direction.

However, sometimes, it’s good to resist the temptation to kill it immediately just with a quick mental check. It may trigger the other person’s defensiveness on the idea, especially if you do not come up a strong enough reason on the spot. Take the idea, and give it some more thought and experiment. Visualize it for that person and say why it doesn’t work. By now, you should be more confident and calm to explain without being perceived as defensive. Keep in mind that people give suggestions because they care. You don’t want to shut them off.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *