Divergent Thinking & Storyboarding

Previously within our Rapid Ideation class we worked on creating a concept map for the AT&T mobile app. This illustrates how the app functions and how various pieces of the app are connected together. When I was going through each screen to pick up these sections and their connection, I noticed a lot of overlap. From any screen you could practically do all the same things. There was no distinctions of actions when going to the “Plan” page from the “Usage” page. This thought stuck with me as we continued to develop our flows.

After we created our concept map we narrowed our scope of work based on user research. Instead of working on the full app’s abilities we were just going to focus on the top six activities our user research highlighted:

  • Viewing the Plan/usage
  • Changing the Plan
  • Suspending service
  • Paying a Bill
  • Setting up Autopay
  • Changing the password

After establishing these activities, we practice divergent thinking and applying this to the AT&T app to create a new experience. I used the “random word” method as a jumping off point. I developed a list of around 50 words then started pulling in various ones to begin generating ideas. I also started imagining how I wanted the app to feel like, to imagine the experience I wanted it to design. From this point I knew I wanted less pieces on the screen to declutter it and I knew I wanted to create something with specific direction for each page. With this filter, I began to envision a whole new experience for phone service providers. What if, a customer set their own plan amounts, rather than selecting preconceived amounts. What if the app created a recommended plan based off your usage, so the customer never has to go over. What if when you cancel your service you were allowed 24 hours of free service, incase you need your phone again. What would happen if you could just use your fingerprint instead of a passcode, or if you didn’t have to have the passcode at all? Each of these ideas were filtered through the notion of creating an app that would generate a more usable experience and lessen the burden of options. Some of these ideas were worked into my flows, but some were cut. 

When practicing divergent thinking methods, I realized my brain, like most others, will rapidly disregard more outlandish and inconceivable ideas. It is more likely to perceive a divergent idea as not possible more so than possible. When practicing divergent thinking it was hard to get away from ‘normal’ methods of thinking, but it wasn’t impossible. In the future I’ll have to be more cognizant of when I prematurely disregarding ideas.

After developing these ideas of how the app should work, we began storyboarding. The challenge here was to create stories that weren’t too complicated, but still illustrated the screens and flow of the new app. The stories were fun and simple and they made me focus on what I wanted on each screen. I had to go back to my original ideas and rework how and where I wanted to implement them into this new app. This was the first time the app making felt more solidified for me. Ultimately when creating flows, the narrative took a backseat to illustrating my ideas of how the app should look and how a user would interact with it. Illustrating these ideas made my concepts more permanent and helped me easily identify holes. 

When looking at the skills in this class I’ve already started applying them in the Studio class, where Garrett and I are diving into Affordable Housing in Austin. We’ve created concept maps to better understand the systems and players of the space. It felt productive to draw out all the players and their connections to different aspect. To finally see all the pieces and relationship I was holding in my head was profound. It also greatly helps our audience understand the relationships and players of the space when we are presenting our findings. 

I’m excited to pull both the divergent thinking and storyboards into the Affordable Housing space too. I know divergent thinking will come in handy when ideating about the possible solutions for Affordable Housing. The systems in place in the Affordable Housing sector are broken, divergent thinking will help to bring in new life and hopefully solve a few of the issues. Storyboarding will also help myself and the audience communicate better. Once we have an idea, when I illustrate it, then my audience can better understand it. I’m excited to pull in these new skills into a space like Affordable Housing, to see what new systems or process can be applied to it.