Refinement Tips

So you've fleshed out your early idea, and now keen to develop it further? There's plenty of ways to do that. We've gathered five of our favourite refinement tips - and thrown in a bunch of links at the bottom if you want to become a prototyping-pro. And remember, even if your idea wasn't chosen for Refinement, you can lend your skills and feedback to one of the ideas that was.

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Visualising is fun - and doesn't have to be complicated. There are lots of apps like Adobe Shape which allows you to take a snapshot of your scribbles with your phone and it creates clean black and white images.  Intimidated by graphics? has a ton of nice templates which allows you to put together a visual in no time. 

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Tired of writing updates and is your contribution getting longer and longer? Consider recording yourself and give folks an update by uploading a video. It's always nice to put a face on the ideas submitter, and short videos are a great way to get more personal with your collaborators.

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Quick and dirty prototypes make your thinking tangible and gives it shape. Even if your model is super rough, giving people something real to react to is great. So get out your papers, scissors and rocks, and glue together a masterpiece your 5-year-old self would have been proud of.  

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Drawing a storyboard is a really useful way of breaking down a users journey, and may help you identify key moments of interaction you might want to develop further. How will people hear about your idea, and how might it be adopted across your organisation? What players are involved and how do they interact?

Your user experience map doesn't need to be perfectly drawn - it's just a tool to move conversations further. has created an awesome activity sheet which allows you to map out your users jouney in just 20 minutes.

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Speaking to real people - especially end-users is one of the best way of testing our assumptions. Why not hold a focus group over lunch? Get a couple of people together - ideally folks from different parts of your organisation, and have them react to your prototype. Try not to lead the conversation too much, and ask lots of 'why's. A good trick is to respond to questions with another question, so if a participant asks you "What does this button do?" reply with "What do you want it to do?". Make sure to take notes, or record the session if possible.

MORE TOOLS?'s guide to prototyping - a tool for mocking up apps. 

Rapid Protoyping  and a ton of other tools in IDEO.orgs' Design Kit