There are two general ways to creating a new idea. Often, we think of one as being more corporate and the other more personal. Both are valid and great ways to think of new products. Developers and designers use both to create the amazing solutions they do.
The first way we’ll discuss is problem-based solutions. This is how most “average” people come up with most ideas. It’s not because the other way is harder, but this one is more natural. Personal experience is often the driving force behind this type of solution.
Sitting with the problem or experiencing it personally. You have a consistent issue and you then come up with a product or service that can take care of that issue. This can also apply when seeing a problem someone else is having. This looks at the human element first, there is a need, based on a problem. More than just a one-time issue, it’s one that has been experienced enough that a solution presents itself to you, the thinker.
This way of inspiration and discovery is somewhat mysterious to most people. Even people who live and breathe creativity and work every day don’t always know how to tap into it. There are tons of books out there on creativity and things like getting into a flow state. That’s all beyond this, but worth looking into. Examples of this type of idea creation would be most common items we take for granted. We often don’t think of these as “being invented” like blankets, the wheel, and cups.
Data based invention come from looking at, well, data. This data is the markets, openings in current product lines, competitor research, and similar things. Often, the goal is to find a gap in the market and fill it with a new product. This is heavily research based, which is why most people don’t create their product ideas this way.
Many larger companies’ internal development and “idea generators” look at things this way. This would be the research part of R&D in companies. This type of development creates a more determined and measurable level of development that companies need.
These are two broad stroke ways of coming up with a new product idea. For designers and developers, the best of us use both. Sometimes one will work in one situation better than the other. In more rare cases, we might even end up using both methods. We expect to be, and always aspire to be, creative on demand. Next time you have a great idea, find a good developer, and bring it to life.