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Designing a brief page with clearer navigation and user stories so challengers can "cross-pollinate" with more efficiency and empathy.

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To help generate lots of user cross-pollination, I redesigned the menus, navigation and visual look of the brief page in order to generate a "Superbloom" where challengers used all of the openIDEO site- past and present. I designed a brief page as a reference with easy to view guides and menus. Below the brief outline are interviews with end users, giving the challenger the opportunity to "meet" who they are designing for.

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Why do you want to be OpenIDEO's Visual and User Experience Designer?

I’m hooked on challenge innovation- I love being able to help lots of people get their ideas off the ground as well as do my own research and projects. Participating in challenges has added a new dimension to my career that keeps on giving; I now volunteer a few days a week as a designer on UX consulting and branding. It would be an honor to continue design UX that helps others to share the formative stages of ideas and research so that they become reality. I would love to do that with openIDEO.

How many years of experience do you have?

  • More than 5 years of experience

How did you hear about this challenge?

Kate Rushton.

What did you learn when developing the deliverables in response to the design brief?

I switched deliverables from poster to wireframe, and went through six iterations of my final design. At first, my scope was too big, but I learned to let that concept drive the my design principles. There is no domain like openIDEO; so I worked to bridge current trends and methods with the brief. My goal was that the brief could be scanned but also functioned as a tool. My wireframes compared at least three examples of the following: navigation, searching, labeling, menus, and imagery.

I have to admit, I was a bit confused when I read the brief.

Make up a challenge? I thought. Dang.

Because I got it completely wrong at first I created something that was more akin to a design challenge. But it's what went wrong that ultimately helped me shape my to my final design. Here's the story of the Superbloom.

I first did a big dream lap with this challenge where I came up with a concept that centered around the existing openIDEO themes and forces that work together. Specifically I was focused on the great ideas that aren’t worked out to their fullest and how they could help the current challenge.

I thought about all of the best things that happened while I was working on the Financial Longevity challenge and realized that my leaps in inspiration and faith were related to seasoned members sharing information with me about past challenges and my in-depth research of existing ideas with similar threads to mine.

Here are some of my main influences:

  • When I looked back through my notes, I realized I had copied several full research pages and taken notes on them while searching through the openIDEO site. The similar concepts helped me reinforce my idea and guided me. It was difficult to find what I was looking for in these pages however, and I myself labeled the pieces of the entries to organize them with titles like: Solution, Concept 1, Concept 2 etc.
  • In challenges afterwards, I kept seeing a plethora of great ideas pitched with no real practical follow-up or model made. I commented to help, but part of me wondered if these people (whom may have been in different generations or didn’t understand research and searching through archives as well) could have been helped by similarly suggested entries, or examples of how to achieve what they were looking to accomplish.
  • openIDEO is coming up on it’s 50th challenge. There is so much wonderous information, research, ideas, and conversations that were had. How could the inclusion challenge make use of this information as well?
  • The impact phases can get lost in the shuffle. Is there a way to highlight the especially interesting and potent impact phases? What about having a challenge that relied on the impact ideas and comments to contribute?

 To layout what I was thinking about, I created an affinity map that compared my experiences with openIDEO to some UX and UI themes that I wanted to see happen.



  • Could more forceful organization help openIDEO participants create stronger ideas?
  • What would it look like for challengers to become the cross-pollinators?
  • How can we make it easier for participants to skim long texts and find what is important?
  • How can we make navigation easier?
  • How can we improve the design without adding to the workload of existing openIDEO team?
  • Are there existing examples of great amounts of information being translated in a way that is easier to skim, make sense of, browse through etc. What domains already have easy navigation for several different topics?   

 To help me understand whom this idea would touch, I created a sketch of the users.

  • openIDEO team: Group of researchers that come together to write a brief and prompt that is thoughtful, directive, inclusive for many people. The openIDEO team is not necessarily composed of designers, but they can write and pull imagery together to make a compelling story. The team may have the best idea of whom the challenge products end users are.
  • openIDEO challengers: Ever evolving groups of users that take in the brief page, take notes or copy it to break down. Challengers need to understand what the brief is asking and translate it into individual inspiration for the challenge. Users may be from all over the world, with English not as their first language. Various types of connectivity are also to be expected- and challengers may have a different idea of whom their end product is for than the openIDEO team does.
  • Sponsors: A changing group of businesses or collectives that hope to further their mission generate ideas from openIDEO challenges. The brief page is part of their work as well, and should reflect their end users. 

To frame my thinking, I wrote a big concept problem statement: 

While I was writing my problem statement, I came up with the idea of the openIDEO Superbloom Challenge. A Superbloom is when there is a massive bloom of flowers in the spring due to the right conditions. openIDEO often uses the term cross-pollination to describe it's community guides sharing ideas, and I thought hey- what if the users were able to navigate challenges like cross-pollinators- what would they create? Hopefully, it would be a bumper crop of ideas, a Superbloom! I used this principle to guide my thought process (as well as for fun!) around redesigning the brief page. 

At first though, I was still under the impression I was designing my own challenge. So I made the Superbloom Challenge

"To introduce new UX, searchability and archiving ideas to the openIDEO platform, users could participate in a Superbloom for the fiftieth challenge. Challengers are asked to act as a swarm of cross-pollinators and use briefs, research, ideas, comments, and impacts to mine for openIDEO gold within the past archives and produce new work inspired by old ideas and new."

After re-reading the brief, I realized this wasn't the goal. 

            I knew that my idea was very big- so big it didn’t fit the challenge guidelines. But I had to get it out so that I could focus on narrowing my scope to the Brief Page redesign. The research and ideation behind the fictional Superbloom challenge helped me break out of the existing patterns I knew from openIDEO, and explore new designs as if every brief could potentially facilitate a SuperBloom of ideas.

The ill-fated SuperBloom Poster

Once that whopper of a misunderstanding about the challenge was out of the way, I decided to take a break and get a grip on what I was ideating. I went back and explored my design goals again and rewrote them to be more concise.

No Extra Work: a staff role should remain relatively like what they are already doing. Design should enhance without creating extra graphic work.

All information available: Timeline for challenge, section of challenge, basic overview should all be visible and differentiated.

Visuals as a complement: Displaying visuals that work with the typography and overall design of the information layout not just the subject matter.

What’s next?: Show adjacent information or prompts to move forward in the timeline through a variety of cues.

Searchable: It is imperative to be able to move through the challenge brief through sections and can find things in it easily. This can be done through titles, chapters, etc.

After deciding the principles- I made quick drawn sketches and determined their viability.

I was very focused on keeping things just like the current format though, with navigation. I decided that wasn't quite satisfactory- and decided to turn the brief page into something much more distinguishable from the rest of the sections. 

Before and after. 

I ended up going with a brief page that a challenger could click through to different sections without scrolling down. The brief is written as a slide show to be read through for ease and visual continuity. Reading a long page of text is difficult to orient oneself within. 

I decided to put the "end users" in the brief as well. While many challengers are aware of whom they are designing for, actual submissions by challengers or stories could help anchor the cause. While these stories are part of the brief, they are also in a separate direction. They are just as powerful, but don't need to be part of the text details. 

Lastly, I also decided to create a matching research section page to my brief UI to work out how the menus, tags, and navigation would work within a large group of entries. I tried to make the brief page and research page to have the same navigation patterns but feel completely different. Therefore, the Research page is set up like one by scroll- instead of the slideshow like the brief, but they both have the same menu location and language. Consistency in navigation, menus, etc, would better lend themselves to a "Superbloom" of ideas.

Here is my final prototype:

Final thoughts:

I would like to have worked out more animation sequences in the brief and done some additional testing. 

Not sure whom would be submitting content for the end users- but I would have liked to have worked out if it was the challengers, researchers, sponsors, or team.

I'm really happy with the way that the Superbloom carried over into my design principles. Conceptually it was important when designing for a choreography of thought. Excited to hear what's next! 


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