Ideation in Product Development

Ideation is simply the process of forming or generating ideas but it is also beyond this. Ideation is a mental activity. New ideas that are formed stay in the mind and will remain there unless they are expressed.

A broader definition is this: ideation is the generation and the expression/communication of ideas.

In product development, ideation is a powerful way of projecting thoughts, concepts, images, words, and ideas on products (either a new or an existing product).

Old products benefit from ideation as much as non-existing products that are about to come alive. Ideation is what produces new features for old products as it does for innovative disruptive products.

Those Involved in Ideation in Product Development 

Small companies and large companies can generate ideas through these 2 ways: 

  • Internally
  • Externally

Internally, teams can generate ideas from other departments of a business. The product team can collaborate with sales, marketing, finance, design, and technical teams.

The list is not exhaustive because larger companies have numerous departments and everyone can be involved in the process of idea generation.

Externally, persons or sources that are outside a company generate ideas. These could be competitors, customers, clients, the public, social media, and even the places you would not think of.

Places like parties, conferences, workshops, seminars, on a queue, and networking events.

Ideas are everywhere and you should also look out for them everywhere, whether in your company, outside or unimaginable places.

Preparing for Ideation in Product Development 

Ideas are not generated in a vacuum but you create and direct them at a problem that needs a solution.

For product development, ideation recognizes that a product is the solution to a problem before proceeding to generate ideas for a perfect product.

Before creating ideas, you should make the following preparations:

1. Ensure that you know your target audience, their needs, frustrations and every other thing that goes into the creation of a persona.

You can know your target audience by conducting research, either primary or secondary, qualitative or quantitative.

If you have more than one persona, your ideation process should consider all of them. Your personas are unique in their behaviors, and the ideas you generate for each of them will also be unique to them.

2. Empathize with your persona.

TalkingTreeBooks defined empathy in simple words for kids, which is also useful for you: Empathy is being able to understand how someone else feels. But empathy is more than feelings. An empathy map will help you understand empathy better.

An empathy map is divided into 4 segments: Says, Thinks, Does, Feels. An empathy map exercise with a team will help you uncover most of what you need to know about your persona.

Fill up the 4 segments with as much information as you have about your persona. 

Also gather information from your research to fill up the segments.

Look for commonalities in the segments and find out what the real problem of your persona is through the things they say, how they feel, what they do, and how they think.

When this is complete, you can continue with the ideation process.

Light bulb for ideas. Photos by Pixabay

The SCAMPER Method of Generating Ideas

SCAMPER is an acronym for methods that can enhance your idea generation process and how you ask questions to arrive at answers.

Interaction Design Foundation spells out the acronym this way:

S – Substitute

C – Combine

A – Adapt

M – Modify (could also be Minify or Magnify

P – Put to another use

E– Eliminate

R – Rearrange 

Use this to generate ideas for new products and existing products alike. 

To effectively use the SCAMPER Method for new products, performing competitor analysis and understanding how existing solutions work will help you generate ideas for better solutions.

For existing products, use the acronym to evaluate and ask questions such as:

  • Are there other substitutes for the product?
  • Can it be combined with another solution to create something new and innovative?
  • How can it be adapted for other uses?
  • Is there a way it can be modified, minified or magnified to capture a complete solution? 
  • Is there a transformation that can take place in the product so that it can be put to another use?
  • Are there frivolities that can be eliminated?
  • How else can the product be rearranged to produce something better?

These questions are high-level and based off of the acronym but you can ask more questions around the acronym to help you generate as many ideas as possible.

What to Do After Generating Ideas

Ideas that are taken through research have the possibility of becoming healthier, strong and rich when executed. — Exquis Apps

1. Conduct more research on your ideas. Do these ideas exist already? If they do, what can you do differently to present a better product different from that of existing products or solutions?

If these ideas have failed in the past, what has changed and what can you do differently now to make yours a success? 

2. Test the feasibility of your ideas. This will help you determine the ideas you need to keep and those you need to trash.

Test for market feasibility, market feasibility, financial constraints that could hinder the development and execution of your ideas and any other factor that could make your ideas a success or a failure.

3. Test selected ideas with users. Here, you might need to create a prototype, an MVP or anything that can help you communicate your ideas to the world.

Use this test to confirm your assumptions of the market and the reactions of people to your ideas.

4. Refine your ideas. Based on the results of your idea tests, take valuable feedback to rework your idea. You can refer to the SCAMPER method here again to see what more you can do to your idea.

The world is ever changing. Relevant ideas today may be outdated the next minute. Refining your ideas can help generate new and better ones.


Generating ideas is an exciting, interesting, interactive and fulfilling process. It is the backbone of all usable products that have stood the test of time. 

You know these products. Do you have an idea of the products we are referring to? Share your ideas in the comments.

At Exquis Apps, we convert app ideas to scalable, resilient, and reliable products. If you’ve got ideas you would like to develop into products, contact us.

If you’re also in the process of idea generation and you’re not sure if you’re taking the right steps in your ideation process, you can contact our team and we would love to brainstorm ideas with you. 

We love ideas so contact us today.

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