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Concept Selection


Ideas and concepts mean little if they are not translated from abstract thoughts into concrete objects or actions to test. Choosing which concepts to build and test require assessing those that are worth your team’s time and energy and will create the desired impact.

Effective ways to do this include:

  1. Download this 1-pager to review how Measures of Success and design goals should relate to the ideas with which you choose to move forward.
  2. Bring 2+ visuals and 1 sentence of each idea being considered to quickly express your ideas.
    • Quick sketches and storyboards work great for early ideas.
    • Be ready with a 1 sentence explanation of each idea!
  3. Review main points of each idea to get on the same page as a team.
    • Build on the ideas as a team to make sure you are exploring the idea to the fullest before you start converging on couple ideas.
  4. Compare ideas with measures of success and design goals to help you make informed decisions that relate to your previous work.
    • How does each idea help reach the measures of success that define the impact you want to make?
    • How does each idea address design goals you made based off your team's insights?
    • What are other pros and cons of each idea?
      • How feasible is the idea to make by your team?
      • Is the idea new or novel in some way? 
  5. Select 2-3 themes to build and test with users.
    • Ideas should be in a few very distinct buckets.
    • If each idea is a variation on one them, like ‘different kinds of games’ or ‘different locations to provide a medical service’ then your ideas are probably too similar and you should speaking with a mentor and taking a step back to either brainstorm new ideas or synthesize new insights.

Network Best Practices

Keep sketch books of your ideas to bring to team meetings like RISD|Brown

DFA RISD/Brown’s FCA team in Fall 2014 visualized their ideas through some quick sketches. This allowed them to think through their concepts, communicate them, and also work out some details visually to prepare for prototyping their design.

Cluster your ideas into themes that you can build and test like U of Illinois

DFA UofI’s FCA team, also in Fall 2014, clearly outlined their ideas after clustering the initial post-it’s from their brainstorming session. By quickly assigning their ideas a name, like “Spatial Awareness Mirror”, they were able to stay on the same page as a team and hone in on commonalities throughout all their ideas.

Use a Pugh Chart to compare different Ideas you have like UC Berkeley

DFA UC Berkeley's team looking at improving the college experience for students with disabilities team used a Pugh Chart to compare the different ideas they had based on criteria such as the time it would take to prototype each idea and the potential impact the idea could have based on their goals and measures. After comparing all their ideas the team had 3 top choices that they were excited to build prototypes for to bring to users for initial feedback on their ideas.