Best Practices for How Might We and Crazy Eights

How Might We? is a design thinking activity used to translate problems into opportunities for design.

  • The word “how” encourages us to explore a bunch of ideas instead of moving forward with only one idea for the solution and suggests that we don’t have an answer yet.
  • The word “might” emphasizes that our ideas are possible solutions, not the only solution.
  • The word “we” suggests a collaborative effort. Coming up with ideas requires teamwork.
  • The question should be specific in describing the needs of the user, but still have room for innovation in the final product. This means the question is broad enough to leave space for solutions that might not be evident yet.
  • It provides the must-have features of a product that will guide a designer in the right direction. It’s not too general or too specific.
  • We want to come up with a lot of How Might We questions, not just one.
  • Reframing the user’s need as a question can help you think of your users and their needs in a new way.
  • You can reframe the problem statement into questions that will help you come up with ideas to solve the problem.

Ways to create How Might We phrases

  • Amp up the good. Think of how you might use any positives in the problem as a solution.
  • Explore the opposite. Think of how you’d solve the opposite of the problem you’ve outlined.
  • Change the status quo. Think of ways to completely change the process.
  • Break the point of view into pieces. This is especially helpful for long, complex problems.
  • Remove the bad: Think of how to remove the negative part of the problem entirely.
  • Go after adjectives: Take any negative adjectives and try to turn them into positives.
  • Question an assumption: Remove or change any processes that you assume have to be in place.
  • Create an analogy using the established need or context: Think of ways to compare this user experience to another experience.
  • Identify unexpected resources that can provide assistance: Think of how the problem might be solved by a resource that isn’t mentioned in the problem statement.

Best practices for thinking of HMWs

  • Be broad. A good HMW should allow for multiple solutions. Can be answered in countless ways.
  • But don’t be too broad. You want your HMWs to be comprehensive, but narrow enough to keep your solutions focused.
  • Make multiple drafts. It’s okay to change your HMW questions after you’ve written them. If you find that your HMW doesn’t help you think of any useful solutions, change it up!
  • Be creative. HMWs are meant to be imaginative and even fun.
  • Write as many HMWs as you can. The more HMWs you have, the more solutions you can come up with.

The point of sketching is to move as quickly as possible to record lots of ideas.

Sketching by hand allows designers to record a variety of ideas in a shorter span of time. For those who sketch by hand, technology can sometimes be inefficient when a designer’s hands want to move faster than their brains.

Even though digital sketching is possible, sketching by hand allows designers to move through ideas quickly.

In the ideate phase of a design sprint, the whole team might come together and do the Crazy Eights exercise. Crazy Eights lets you compare ideas, see everyone’s different ideas, and narrow down the list of ideas before moving on with the best solutions.

The best solution is always what your users think is best and not what you or your team thinks is best.

Fold the paper in half, then fold it in half again, then in half, one more time. Now you have eight rectangles that are about the same size. Each of the eight spaces will be for a different idea.

The Crazy Eights exercise will take eight minutes, one minute for each idea.

  1. Start with a large sheet of paper. Fold the paper in half, then fold it in half again, then in half one more time. When you unfold the paper, you’ll have eight squares to sketch in. Each of the 8 spaces will be for a different idea.
  2. Grab something to draw with. A lot of designers prefer to draw using sharpies, but a pencil or pen will work too.
  3. Set your timer to eight minutes. You’ll have one minute to sketch each design idea.
  4. Let the ideas flow. Draw any and every solution that comes to your mind. If you have more than eight ideas, feel free to repeat the exercise.
  5. Identify a gap or opportunity to address: by reading the competitive audit spreadsheet and report. Make a note on the paper of what gap or opportunity you are addressing. Your goal for this exercise is to brainstorm potential solutions or opportunities you’ve identified.
  6. Complete the Crazy Eights exercise. Using the gap or opportunity you identified, sketch eight different ideas that propose solutions to the gap or opportunity.
  7. Describe at least three of the ideas you proposed. On a separate piece of paper or in a digital document, write a short explanation for at least three of your proposed solutions. This is a place to provide a justification for your ideas, and give them more context for stakeholders so they can understand your thought process. Write 2–3 sentences or bullet points for each idea that you describe.

In order to inspire sketch ideas that address a design problem, designers need to refer to a problem statement. In order to successfully complete the Crazy Eights exercise, a designer should have paper handy, such as printer paper. It’s called the Crazy Eights exercise for a reason! You have to create eight ideas in eight minutes. Drawing or writing tools such as a pen or pencil works well for the Crazy Eights exercise. However, Sharpies are a popular option among designers!

Each person shares their top two or three ideas with the whole group, or each person may vote on their favorite sketches from across the team. The best ideas chosen will usually be elaborated on through more detailed sketches.

Best practices for Crazy Eights

  1. Do a creative warm-up exercise. Complete an activity where you draw the person next to you without looking at your paper, or have everyone draw their own interpretation of a word or phrase. Starting to put pen to paper like this will get you in the mindset to sketch.
  2. Make sure your problem is well defined. Develop a set of Crazy Eights for one How might we question or one problem statement at a time.
  3. Don’t judge your ideas. Ideating is all about creating lots of ideas, not creating perfect ones! Sketch any and every idea you have until your paper is full, no matter how crazy it might seem.
  4. Don’t judge other people’s ideas. Keep an open mind when other people are presenting their sketches.
  5. Include a diverse group. Since Crazy Eights are often done in a group setting, it’s best that your group represents a variety of work roles, experiences, abilities, genders, and backgrounds. This will help your team have a wide range of ideas to choose from.
  6. Ideate in a comfortable environment. Do this exercise in a location that’s relaxed and encourages creative thinking. It’s always great to get out of your normal work space for creative exercises.
  7. Don’t be afraid of sketching. You don’t have to be an artist to be a UX designer, and your sketches during Crazy Eights don’t have to be perfect. You just need to clearly communicate your ideas.

Benefits of Crazy Eights

  • Generates a lot of ideas in a small amount of time.
  • Forces you to think outside the box because you have to come up with many ideas in a short timeframe, without judging them. This means that you will have lots of unique, nontraditional solutions to consider.
  • This exercise is meant to be fun and fast paced, so enjoy yourself. Let your creativity flow without judgment, and come up with some awesome ideas!

With the How Might We exercise, you carefully considered a very specific user problem to create a list of questions, and with the Crazy Eights exercise, you sketched solutions to that problem with no limitations and no thoughts to practicality.

A user journey is the series of experiences a user has while interacting with a product.

New blockers may come up during the ideation phase. If they do, designers should consider if further research and data collection is needed. In order to create a product that addresses user needs and wants, designers may need more information in order to resolve them.

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Mohammad Rahighi

Mohammad Rahighi

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T-Shaped Designer. More than 8 years of extensive experience in UI/UX Design, Web Design and Search Engine Optimisation. (https://rahighi.ir/)