Chapter 6Boosting Creativity in Idea Generation Using Design Heuristics

Colleen M. Seifert

University of Michigan

Richard Gonzalez

University of Michigan

Seda Yilmaz

Iowa State University

Shanna Daly

University of Michigan


When facing a design problem, designers across disciplines often fall into familiar patterns, and have difficulty producing creative designs. Where do new design ideas come from? This chapter presents a new tool to help with idea generation called Design Heuristics. These heuristics capture the cognitive “shortcuts” that designers know to help them produce many candidate designs with interesting variations to choose among. Through empirical studies of industrial and engineering designers working on a variety of consumer products, a total of 77 Design Heuristics for use in new product development were identified. This empirical evidence supports the value of the Design Heuristics tool in generating new designs across disciplines.

Next, we describe how to use Design Heuristics for idea generation in design contexts. Design Heuristics help designers by suggesting specific ways to develop new concepts, and to modify and extend existing concepts. Each heuristic offers new possibilities for introducing variation. These easy-to-use guidelines are described through examples of designers generating new concept ideas. Design Heuristics can be applied to any type of product design, and examples of their use in award-winning consumer products are provided. ...

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