A Primer on Conceiving New Ideas


When asked why conceptual thinking is so crucial in today’s environment, I often say it is because it is the driving force behind the most commercially successful items, whether they are sold online or off. Developing a method is more than just making pretty pictures or writing fancy language. It’s knowing who you’re making the product for and the features they must have. The key is providing the appropriate data at the right moment. Websites used to be online brochures with a few paragraphs of fluff and some clip art, but times have changed. They are the most accessible, unified mass media instrument of the present day, serving as information hubs, virtual sales tools, social playgrounds, and more. The best solution is one that combines the correct elements.

After deciding what you want to accomplish and gathering the materials you’ll need, the next step is to figure out how to implement that plan. The conceptual design stage involves balancing requirements and available resources to create a thorough strategy that can be directly converted into designing and implementing aesthetically pleasing web pages. To create a tangible representation of the ideas that will ultimately drive the invention, a process known as “conceptual design” must be undertaken.

This isn’t the most accurate description, but considering that conceptual design is essentially a process, it cannot be easy to express the whole without first breaking it down into individual elements. The professionals who work for vehicle manufacturers on “cars of the future” (most of which never make it to production) are responsible for conceptual design. This is also the course of action when it appears that one of the concepts for the future car should be developed into a commercially viable item. One imagines new kinds of vehicles. The second part takes those ideas and attempts to implement them practically.

How do we conceptualize designs for the web, then?


Brainstorming is an effective method for conceptual design. A brainstorming session aims to generate as many wild and wacky ideas as possible from a group of people. Brainstorming on the web often involves a group of critical actors (uh, aka the financiers), technical experts (makers & doers), and some user reps (the essential individuals). Toy company brainstorming sessions would probably involve engineers in a fully stocked workshop creating and testing out prototypes of new toys before presenting their best ideas to upper management.

When brainstorming, it’s essential to let wild thoughts flow freely. People may give you odd looks if your ideas are too out there, yet occasionally the most outlandish ones are the most successful. A brainstorming session aims to generate as many ideas as possible and encourage participants to think creatively. To “think outside the box” is to step back and attempt to see a problem from a new angle. Those who cannot think creatively often look to other sources for help.

Participants spout random ideas in a typical brainstorming session, which are then recorded and sorted. Ephemeral media like chalkboards and whiteboards are ideal for short-term use. Things that can be written over and crossed out. If you want to show off your technological prowess, you may purchase a whiteboard that snaps a picture of itself whenever you develop a new plan.

Playing games and taking on roles might also help. See, there is a point to attending those management conventions.

After the ideas have been generated, they must be sorted through to identify the most promising and interconnected ones. You’re on the lookout for templates that will help you structure the data of your proposed design into something actionable and practical.

The end goal of any brainstorming session should be to settle on a direction for the product as a whole. People must be rallied around the product’s mission, vision, and goals to be willing to collaborate on its development. Before internal disagreements get ingrained in the final design, now is the opportunity to identify difficulties and address discrepancies. It’s also where you’ll begin working out the site’s architecture, sketching out different layouts to see which works best with your target demographic and content.

Analyzing Metaphors

As part of the creative process, thinking about the design in terms of more prominent metaphors can be helpful. These metaphors can inform the design process and even be in the built environment.

Metaphors help us grasp novel concepts by drawing parallels to those we already know, providing us with a framework to place new information. They can be used to spark interest or convince and give an explanation by analogy. Examples of the latter two include holiday sales. It’s President’s Day, so you can honor the holiday and your country by supporting local businesses.

There are many different kinds of metaphors. They can be conveniently divided into three categories for our needs.

When trying to make sense of a complex organizational structure, thinking about it as a metaphor can be helpful. To keep things familiar, a company’s intranet might be structured like the company’s organizational hierarchy. It’s also possible for a digital library to be modeled after a physical one.

By drawing parallels between the two, functional metaphors help us learn how to do something new. Paper-based forms can be replicated online while maintaining the same basic layout. While this may not be the best way to organize the documents on the website, it is the most intuitive.

To build connections between seemingly different concepts, visual metaphors often employ the usage of stock imagery. As a result of the near exclusivity of visual metaphors in achieving effective graphic design, much of the analogy that manifests in the physical site is visual. In the conceptual design stage, you start to explore these possibilities.
One must use restraint while employing metaphors. A website can get lost in a sea of metaphors, especially in the hyper-metaphorical world of modern social media. People also tend to become attached to their preferred metaphors, which may make complete sense but baffle the intended audience.

That’s why the remaining test is so daunting for some. Endlessly. Forever.

A Redwood Agile representative, Joel Serino.

Redwood Agile is a consulting firm that helps startups and small businesses. See us at

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