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Conference insights from Vancouver and Boston to Paris and Beijing.

Better Ideas Faster

I had a chance to attend HOW Design Conference in Denver, Colorado, where over 2,500 designers gathered to be inspired by their peers, play with new tools and techniques, and network in some unusual ways—such as Neenah Paper's closing party, where everyone wore white. (Have you ever seen a room with a thousand people all wearing white?) My contribution to the event was a session on how graphic designers can brainstorm more effectively.

Over the course of my talk, I described the four parts of every designer's process that can be optimized to come up with better ideas faster:

  • Strategy: Relating what you've been tasked to design back to a client's stated business problem
  • Articulation: Knowing what questions need to be answered through ideation
  • Ideation: Answering those questions via brainstorming activities such as timeboxing—the use of short, structured sprints to reach stated ideation goals
  • Synthesis: Mixing and matching the ideas created during your brainstorm to create even better ones

The design illustrations included in the talk are by students and professional designers whom I'd tasked with creative challenges featured in my forthcoming book from HOW Design Press, Creative Workshop.