Back to blog
The Essential Ideation Techniques for Design Thinking

The Essential Ideation Techniques for Design Thinking

Design Process
8 min read

In the exciting world of design thinking, generating innovative, solution-oriented ideas is the fulcrum of the entire process. These ideas hold the potential to drive significant change and unlock unseen possibilities. But how does one foster this outpouring of ingenuity? The answer lies in the UX ideation techniques — a decisive part of design thinking.

This article delves into the heart of ideation. At Arounda, we use various techniques to create meaningful and outstanding projects. We'll reveal some of these methods and explain how and when to leverage each.

How to Ideate?

Ideation is a critical step in the design thinking process. With its help, you generate, explore, and communicate new ideas. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to ideate:

  1. Understand and frame your problem.
  2. Gather a diverse team.
  3. Apply several idea-generation techniques.
  4. Record every idea that emerges during the session.
  5. Choose the most promising ideas and develop them into rough prototypes. 
  6. Test these prototypes with users, gather feedback, and refine the arguments based on their responses.

Remember, ideation is not a one-time process. It's iterative, so you may need to repeatedly return to the drawing board to refine your ideas and solutions. 

Best Ideation Techniques

No "best" practice exists since their usefulness varies depending on the situation. But here are some of the most widespread and effective ones.

Mind Mapping

A mind map is like a drawing aimed at organizing thoughts. It starts with a single core idea in the middle of a page. Then, it grows when you add related ideas, pictures, or words around that central idea.

The best thing about a mind map is that it changes and evolves. It follows the flow of ideas, connecting different parts of the concept and showing the thinking process. When connecting ideas visually, people see how things relate. Therefore, you can come up with solutions that fit your problems best.


SCAMPER involves creating a checklist of prompts to think about a problem from different angles and develop innovative solutions. The method guides your thinking process through seven different approaches. Each of them corresponds to one of the letters of the acronym:

  • "Substitute" prompts you to consider parts of the problem, product, or idea you can replace or swap. 
  • "Combine" suggests merging different aspects of a product, service, or problem in new ways.
  • "Adapt" encourages adapting or adjusting existing solutions or elements to new situations. 
  • "Modify" is about thinking of how you could change or alter the current situation or its elements.
  • "Put to another use" involves considering how you might use an item or process other than its intended purpose. 
  • "Eliminate" is removing product, service, or process elements. It's about creating value by eliminating what's unnecessary and focusing on what's essential.
  • "Reverse" or "Rearrange" suggests turning a situation or problem on its head.


Brainstorming is one of the most popular UX ideation techniques. This approach uncovers various solutions that conventional thinking might miss.

The primary goal of brainstorming promotes generating multiple ideas, adhering to the principle of "quantity over quality." Participants often feel more inclined to share their thoughts and ideas when emphasizing volume.

Maintaining a non-judgmental environment during the session remains critical. All ideas, regardless of how wild or unconventional, receive a warm welcome. 

Round-Robin Brainstorming

With this approach, each participant adds an idea in turns. As a result, everyone gets a chance to contribute, being helpful when some team members often dominate the conversation.


This method is similar to brainstorming. But instead of sharing ideas out loud, each participant writes down their thoughts. It’s a good technique for introverted team members. Also, it’s helpful when you want to prevent louder voices from dominating the session.

Six Thinking Hats

This method, introduced by Edward de Bono, encourages users to approach problems "with different hats on." Each "hat" represents a different thinking type. By changing hats, participants can easily switch between different points of view:

  • White Hat — neutrality and objectivity. Participants focus on data and information. They look at the facts, figures, and evidence.
  • Red Hat — feelings and intuition. Participants express their emotions, gut reactions, and hunches without justification or explanation. It provides a space to explore the emotional landscape.
  • Black Hat — judgment and caution. Team members evaluate ideas critically. They look for potential problems, risks, and adverse consequences. 
  • Yellow Hat — positivity and optimism. Participants focus on the benefits, feasibility, and positive aspects of an idea or a decision.
  • Green Hat — creativity. Participants generate new ideas, alternative solutions, and fresh concepts.
  • Blue Hat — control of the process. It's about organizing the thinking process, setting the agenda, and drawing conclusions. When wearing the blue hat, participants manage the other hats, summarizing and synthesizing the input gathered.

Sketching and Prototyping

Sketching and prototyping are among the most widespread product ideation techniques. They play a critical role in translating abstract ideas into something more concrete. Sketching is usually the first step in this process. It involves creating quick, simple drawings to illustrate an idea or concept.

Prototyping takes ideas visualization one step further. It varies from low-fidelity paper prototypes to high-fidelity digital interactive ones. One of the primary benefits of prototyping is identifying potential issues or improvements early in the process. 

Role Play

The role-play technique involves stepping into the various stakeholders' shoes. It allows for a deeper, more empathetic understanding of the users' needs, desires, and potential frustrations. Role-playing involves simulating scenarios or tasks a user would encounter. Then, participants experience them as if they were users. For instance, you may need to navigate a website like a visually impaired user.

Journey Mapping

This technique maps out the entire user experience with a product or service. It aims to identify pain points and improvement opportunities. The primary goal of journey mapping is to gain a holistic view of the customer's interaction over time. It captures users’ thoughts, feelings, expectations, and frustrations. 

Journey mapping identifies the critical interaction points or "moments of truth" that shape the user's perception. These are critical touchpoints where the UX can swing from positive to negative or vice versa.

Reverse Thinking or Problem Reversal

Instead of thinking about how to solve the problem, determine what causes it. Problem Reversal might initially sound counterintuitive. But this shift in perspective often leads to a better understanding of the problem and sparks unconventional solutions.

By deliberately thinking about how to cause the problem, you must scrutinize it more closely. Explore its specifics, characteristics, and effects in detail. This approach provides a deeper comprehension of the problem's core and suggests potential solutions.

In the ideation phase of design thinking, the goal is to encourage free-thinking and foster creativity. That's why the ideation techniques design thinking employs are so diverse and adaptable.

Tips To Choose the Best Ideation Technique

Here are some tips on choosing the proper technique for your specific project.

Know Your Team

Some people may be more visually oriented, while others prefer verbal or written approaches. Consider your team members’ personalities, skills, and preferences. For instance, introverted team members will likely excel in techniques like Brainwriting.

Consider the Scope

Your project’s scope or challenge is crucial in determining the ideation tools and techniques. If you're working on a service design project, journey mapping is an effective way to ideate around different touchpoints. In turn, techniques like prototyping and sketching benefit a product design project more.

Timing Matters

The amount of time available also affects the technique choice. For example, Brainstorming and Round-Robin usually require less time. In contrast, ideation tools and techniques like Reverse Thinking or Role Play might take longer.

Consider these tips to ensure you select the most creative ideation techniques for your design thinking project.

Final thoughts

Through ideation techniques, design thinking lets teams break down complex problems and generate ideas from various perspectives. It leads to more comprehensive and user-centric solutions. 

The essence of ideation, however, goes beyond techniques and methods. It's about fostering a culture of open-mindedness and curiosity. It’s also the courage to venture outside the comfort zones of established thinking patterns. Our team is open to new projects, even the most challenging ones. Contact us if you are also ready to implement your most daring ideas!


Get for freeLearn more

Hire an experienced and reliable design partner for your project.

Contact Us

Have a project in your mind?
Let’s communicate

Get estimation
Table of contents
  1. Text Link
8 min read
Hire an experienced and reliable design partner for your project.
Contact Us

FAQ on UI/UX design services

What are the design thinking ideation techniques?

Ideation techniques are methods or processes teams use to generate, develop, and communicate new ideas. Creative fields adopt them to stimulate free thinking and encourage the generation of diverse views. They explore solutions before refining and narrowing them down to the best ones.

What are the four methods of ideation?

Brainstorming, Mind Mapping, SCAMPER, and the Six Thinking Hats are the four most common ideation tools and techniques. Brainstorming involves generating many ideas in a group setting. Mind Mapping is a visual tool used to structure information. SCAMPER is a technique for guiding questions that spark creative thinking. The Six Thinking Hats method promotes parallel thinking.

What are the three stages of ideation?

Ideation generally involves three critical stages: Initial Idea Generation, Idea Development, Idea Selection, During the Initial Idea Generation, you produce many ideas, prioritizing quantity over quality. In the Idea Development stage, you expand, combine, and refine these ideas. In the final step, Idea Selection, you evaluate all ideas and select the most promising ones for further development and testing.

Subscribe to our blog

Sign up to our newsletter to get weekly updates on the newest design stories, case studies and tips.

Your email's all set! Thanks!
Oops! Something went wrong. Please try again