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Brainstorm Box

Client

My Design Class

Location

NY, USA

Year

2017

Services

Product Design, User Testing, Prototyping

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The Brainstorm Box is a product that was developed to help keep brainstorming sessions creative without teetering out too quickly. This product was designed for my design class allowing me to carry out user testing with my clients.

The Problem

Using the same method of brainstorming for every project causes the task to become redundant and leaves students feeling stuck and uninspired.

Exploratory Research

Related Products

To understand solutions already on the market, I carried out some exploratory research. I found a variety of existing solutions including MockUps, a card game by Design For America, that encourages rapid prototyping and thinking outside the box. I also found techniques that people have published online meant to challenge your perspective.

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Image of MockUps card game by Design for America.

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Consumer Trends

I also researched what the top trends were regarding consumer products, keeping in mind that my clients are design students. I chose to go the route of elegant, natural, and minimal.

Concept Validation

To validate that I was working on a problem that was indeed a problem, I spoke to my clients for feedback. They liked the idea of livening up brainstorming sessions but didn't like the tools that were already available.

Concept Generation and User Testing

Approach and Rationale

Throughout this project, I was in continuous communication with the user. To use my time with them most effectively, I chose to use rapid prototyping to allow for user testing to inform my design over many iterations.

Initial Concept

My initial solution was to use magnets with prompts based on some techniques I found during my research, to frame the brainstorming around. Since the classroom where the product would be housed, was covered in whiteboards, I thought magnets would be ideal.

The feedback said otherwise. When taking the magnets out of the box, they would all be stuck together, impeding the user experience.

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Second Iteration

After receiving feedback about the need for a different physical mechanism, I pivoted to a design based on a playing card box. When presenting this iteration to users, they were more excited and wanted to see more. I decided to make a rough physical prototype to get more specific feedback, especially on the process of using the product.

User Testing

I wanted to focus on creating an intuitive design that disappears as the users use it so it does not take away from the brainstorming session. In my first round of user testing, I handed the user a mockup and asked them to see if they could figure out how to use it. Afterward, I explained the product and asked for feedback.

Their feedback allowed me to realize that the lid opens more easily than the slot where the cards come out, so what is to stop the user from just opening the box and taking a card out?

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Third Iteration

I used the feedback I got, to iterate and improve the previous design. I added a slanted front to make it easier to take cards out. A knob was added for opening and closing the lid, and the latch blocking the cards was taken away. I used this design to create a 3D model in Rhino to better communicate my idea shown below.

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High Resolution Prototype

After receiving positive feedback on my last prototype, I moved forward, fabricating a high-resolution prototype, shown below. The card box is made from wood and filled with cards made from cardstock. A block inside the box is used to push the cards towards the slot for the user to take. The knob on the back of the box is how the user controls the block. The cards are color-coded based on what type of brainstorming exercise they are part of. They also feature a tented design so they can stand on the table for all to see. The cards can easily be loaded through the top of the box, however, the block inside makes it easier to remove from the slot than from the top. 

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Brainstorm Box Final Prototype
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