I was following a #bufferchat on Twitter earlier this month about idea generation and it got me thinking about my own idea generation process, where we go for creative inspiration, and why it’s important to free ourselves from the mundane thoughts that hog our brain space the majority of the time.

Side note: If you’re not familiar with #bufferchat you really should get involved. Buffer hosts weekly “chats” on Twitter that center around specific topics and anybody can participate in the discussion. It’s pretty cool.  

As creative entrepreneur’s, we’re always on the lookout for inspiration. Ideas themselves come and go pretty frequently but you can’t ever predict when something will inspire a great idea.

We read books and blogs, watch movies, listen to podcasts, and follow YouTube playlists hoping something will spark the flame of creativity when we’re stuck because generating ideas on demand isn’t always easy. And that’s why I loved the idea generation topic on #bufferchat a couple of weeks ago.

The whole point of the chat was to share ideas, inspirational resources and encourage fellow creatives on their innovative idea journey. The whole chat inspired this post and gave us the idea to share the 14 most amazing idea generation techniques and resources we could put together. Thanks, Buffer!



Use These 7 Techniques to Jumpstart Your Creativity

We hope these tips spark some innovative ideas for you no matter what you’re working on today.

  • Brainstorming. I know, I know, this isn’t anything you haven’t heard before but it’s a tried and true method for inspiring new ideas. The point of brainstorming is so people can speak freely about their ideas. There’s no assessing anything so there’s no fear of criticism when sharing thoughts. Even the weird ones. Taming your thoughts is a lot easier than expanding your mind.

    Next time you’re stuck, get together with at least one other person and bounce ideas off of each other. When you’re brainstorming, 1+1=3 so you’re allowed to think outside of the box.
  • SCAMPER. This one is a personal favorite because SCAMPER is an idea generation technique that uses action verbs to stimulate your imagination. It’s a technique that was developed by Bob Eberie.

    SCAMPER is also an acronym. Each letter stands for an action verb which in turn serves as a prompt for creative ideas:

    S – Substitute
    C – Combine
    A – Adapt
    M -Modify
    P – Put to another use
    E – Eliminate
    R – Reverse
  • Storyboarding. Storyboarding is fun! If you’ve never created a storyboard before you should try it. When you storyboard, you develop a visual story to explain and explore ideas. Storyboards are especially helpful when you need to represent information you gathered while researching a topic.

    To create a storyboard all you need is a whiteboard or corkboard, whichever you prefer. Pictures, quotes, and other pertinent information is useful as well because that’s what you use to stand for scenarios and assist with comprehending the relationships between all of your ideas.
  • Attribute Listing. Attribute listing is more of an analytical approach used to recognize new forms of a product or system and identify areas that need improvement. Basically, you break something completely down, like a blog post, for example, note all of the different directions it could take, and see whether any change or combination to the topic idea would improve it or make it a complete flop.
  • Visualization. Visualization is an idea generation technique that gets you to think about challenges visually in an effort to better comprehend them. Nick does this all the time so we promise that it works.

    Picture prompts are particularly helpful when you’re using the visualization technique to solve a problem. Drawing things out or looking up literal pictures help your brain establish connections as well as surface emotions, feelings, and intuitions.

    Bryan Mattimore suggests that you use images that are visually interesting, portray a multiplicity of subject matter, and depict people in varied kinds of relationships and interactions. It also helps to tailor the photos to the character of the problem you’re trying to solve.
  • Daydreaming. Seriously. Let your mind wander from time to time. Daydreaming is a great way to trigger innovative ideas. Just keep a notebook nearby or download an app like Keep or Evernote so you can quickly jot down ideas when they come to you.
  • Brainwriting. Similar to brainstorming, brainwriting is an idea generation technique that has you set a timer (like 5 minutes) and jot down as many ideas, thoughts, or questions relative to your perplexing topic. This particular technique works best with a group of 3+ people.

    After time’s up, everybody passes their paper to the person on their right (or however you choose to do it) and then you add more ideas to the list you received. Once everybody in your group has added on to everyone else’s ideas, collect the sheets and open up discussion in the group.

    It’s almost impossible not to generate some creative ideas to act on when using this technique.



7 Websites for Creative Inspiration

The techniques above are great for generating ideas with a team but sometimes you  just need some personal creative inspiration. We don’t want to make this list obnoxiously long so we’ll just share 7 of our go to places when we need some creative inspiration:  

  1. Creative Bloq. Creative Bloq is full of fresh thinking, expert tips, and tutorials guaranteed to help flex your creative muscles. They’re great at providing creative inspiration for creative people.
  2. SitePoint. Well-known among web designers and developers, SitePoint is the perfect place to learn things like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and more. The community is rich and engaging too, so you’re bound to stumble upon some words of inspiration every time you visit.
  3. JUST Creative. Technically, JUST Creative is the design portfolio of Jacob Cass but it’s also a pretty inspiring blog to keep up with. Cass specializes in logo design and brand identity so his posts are always full of inspiring info about topics like typography, SEO and web design, and storytelling techniques to name a few.
  4. Red Lemon Club. Red Lemon Club was founded in 2009 by Alex Mathers. It’s a great website that regularly showcases tips about branding, productivity, and business and it’s a great resource when you’re stuck on a project.
  5. Awwwards. If you’re ever in need of a little design inspiration, go to Awwwards. Awwwards is an organization that recognizes and promotes the talents of the best web designers, web developers, and web design agencies around the world.
  6. Speckyboy. Speckyboy is an online magazine for web designers. The mag focuses on exploring new techniques for inspiration and highlights a lot of cool and interesting resources for you to use.
  7. Ultralinx. They’re one of the best online magazines out there. Ultralinx covers high-quality tech, art, design, gadgets, and photography. At the time of this post, Ultralinx is my favorite go-to inspirational resource and they’ll probably stay that way for a long time. Highly recommended.

What are some of your favorite idea generation techniques or go-to resources? Let’s inspire each other and talk about them in the comments!


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