Conjuring Creativity: How Your Creative Process Can Inspire Design Breakthroughs
You are an instructional designer and you just started working on a new project. Your goal is to come up with a design that not only meets your learners’ needs but is so incredibly engaging, appealing, and intuitive that learners won’t want to stop until they complete the entire course. Sounds like a dream for every designer, right? Now you wish you had a magic wand to make this happen in no time. But instead, you’re at your wits’ end and can’t seem to come up with the right ideas. It happens. You have to wait until your muses visit again. But you can’t wait. What do you do?
Let me tell you a quick story.
A few months ago our instructional designers were working on a complex, multi-layered training program solution with extremely tight deadlines and budgetary constraints. One of the requirements was to create a highly visual, dynamic, and intuitive UI/UX for both desktop and mobile platforms. After our team collaboratively narrowed down and selected the best course of action, we showcased and rationalized our solution to the client who had minimal feedback for us. In this case, it was extremely important for our team’s focus to be aligned with the clients’ objectives—we didn’t have any room for error—and we had to both collaborate and act swiftly without compromising quality or creativity. The project was a success. We showed that the Allen team has the expertise necessary to successfully plan for and complete complex and creative projects.
How do we do it?
There are three creative areas that help us succeed in what we do:
- Instructional design creates effective learner experience. It includes relevant and engaging activities that teach learners how to think critically and solve real-life problems.
- Visual design complements the instruction by creating an artistic environment that makes learning more appealing, persuasive, and memorable.
- Technical design provides access to training anywhere, anytime, using multiple devices. It helps track learner progress and prescribes additional training and performance support.
To ensure that these three types of design meet learner and business needs in the most innovative way, we use a process and an environment that promote creativity.
Our creative process is the engine that keeps our creative juices flowing.
- The first step involves engaging the entire team—lead representatives from the instructional design, visual design, and technical teams. We define the client’s training goals, dive deep into any existing training content, and find out all we can about the organization’s culture and learner needs. We do all we can to spark inspiration for the best design ideas for each individual client.
- After we’ve immersed ourselves in the client’s world, we brainstorm ideas as a team. Ideation is the fun part. Our instructional design leads facilitate the brainstorming process and help us consider an array of options.
- In order to visualize our best ideas and effectively communicate them to the stakeholders, our visual designers and programmers help us create sketches and prototypes.
- Finally, we need to verify that our proposed solution works and that it is aligned with the client’s objectives. The team pitches the design solution to the stakeholders.
This iterative process may need to be cycled through several times before we achieve the expected results.
At Allen, our creative environment provides the ideal conditions for innovative design. Our drive to exceed clients’ expectations, our collective experience, and our talent all come together to inspire unparalleled creativity and excellence in creative design.
What’s your magic wand? How do you keep your creativity flowing? Let us know in the comments below.
Interested in more on our creative process? Contact one of our learning directors to see how we can apply our creative process to your projects.
I’ll admit that careful processes around creativity once seemed wrong to me. I was tied to outdated, romanticized versions of creativity. Now I firmly believe that these expertly designed processes really do seed better ideas, more often and with more reliable results. Love the blog and what you’re doing with creativity in instructional design.
I really enjoyed the process that you demonstrated. It seems like teams often move through the “engage” stage (identify needs, set priorities) quickly and focus more on the “brainstorm” and “visualize” stages. I think your tip about doing as much research as possible in the first stage is very important. Being creative with a purpose is what can lead to the right breakthroughs! Thanks Anna.
Love this process. The brainstorming process reminds me of IDEO’s mantra of “Encourage Wild Ideas.” It’s been my experience that genius ideas are often the conservative little brother to the wild ones. And the only way to get there is by starting with the wild ideas, not working your way there.
Coming from a graphic design background myself, it’s always interesting to see how others work through the creative process.