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5 Questions to Supercharge Your Ideation and Co-Creation

Don't settle for open-ends in your research designs. Adding closed-ends can improve data quality and promote the ease and efficiency of your co-creation and ideation research.

Words by Colleen Martinez and Emma Davis Pakrasi, Visuals by Addie Burgess

Taking part in the design and brainstorming phase of any new product or process is an exciting time full of new possibilities.

Instead of keeping the initial phase of building a new product closed off, sometimes it helps to bring in other voices—especially consumers' voices—to the process.

Co-creation and ideation enable you to bring in other perspectives.

There is arguably no voice more important than that of the users of your potential new products or services. Co-creation and ideation research can give you insight into what worked well for users in the past. It can also spotlight features they hope to see in products or services they’ll use in the future.

This type of research is important to developing successful products. It puts the users’ wants, needs, and ideas at the forefront of our design thinking. Including co-creation and ideation practices in product research can broaden the perspectives you’re considering—and invite more voices to be heard.

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Expanding the question types for co-creation and ideation

Interviews and open-ended questions are the most commonly used methods of doing co-creation and ideation research (and for obvious reasons). Namely, they offer the participant an opportunity to create and play with design opportunities. Open-ended questions also prevent participants from being confined by a pre-set question structure.

However, these formats often lead to participant fatigue and drop-off in surveys and questionnaires. Imagine providing a written response to 10-15 open-ended questions in one survey! Additionally, although interviews can produce rich co-creation or ideation data, the time and resourcing to support these at scale may preclude their use.

Scales give us a quick pulse check on how important, desirable or usable a specific feature or part of a process is for participants.

Below, we explore ways to leverage closed-ended questions that—when used in combination with open-ended or media questions like video—can generate rich results that scale.

By diversifying the questions used in any one co-creation or ideation study…

  • Participants' experiences are more fully captured
  • Their time is respected
  • The data is of higher quality

Our examples reference research building in dscout.

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✔ Scale

A scale question assesses and quantitatively measures users' reactions to certain concepts, features, or ideas. Scales give us a quick pulse check on how important, desirable or usable a specific feature or part of a process is for participants. A scale question can be a great accompaniment to other question types, resulting in data that’s easy to analyze.

dscout’s scale question allows you to write your own prompt and set the numerical scale anywhere from 0-10. This gives you flexibility in how vast you want to scale to be and freedom to put meaning behind each number.

How to use a scale question for co-creation or ideation

Assess the importance of different features or capabilities a product has in the eyes of those who use this product most.

  • "On a scale of 1-7, where 1 is not at all important and 7 is extremely important, how would you rate ___?"

Determine whether there is consensus on consumers’ perceptions and usefulness rating of certain features

  • "On a scale of 1-7, where 1 is not at all useful and 7 is extremely useful, how would you rate ___?"

Capturing how a participant is feeling

  • "On a scale of 1-7, where 1 is dreading it and 7 is very excited, what is your typical attitude towards ___?"
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✔ Ranking

Ranking questions offer insight into what a participant prioritizes. They are similar to scale questions in that people are reporting on their satisfaction level. But in ranking-style questions, you can ask participants to directly compare various parts of the process or product they’re reporting on.

This prioritization is valuable in co-creation when you want to identify and highlight participants’ differing wants and needs. In dscout, participants will assign some or all of the answer options a number, depending on whether you've asked them to rank all choices or defined a custom rank limit.

How to use a ranking question for co-creation or ideation

Validate the desire of your product or service

  • "Rank these new product options for which sounds most desirable. With 1 being the most desirable and 5 being the least desirable."

Have participants weigh in on ideas or features that stakeholders already have eyes on. The type of quantitative data that comes from this question can help make decisions about where to focus when improving a product or in the ideation phase of something new.

  • "Rank the top 3 most important factors you consider when purchasing X?"

Discover what appeals to participants from a set of features

  • ​​"Of the following features below, which are most appealing to you? Rank up to 4 that you find most appealing, beginning with 1 = most appealing."

Let the participants make the final call on which direction to pursue

  • "Rank the features you believe should be updated first in the creation of the next X product. Rank 1 as the feature that should be updated first and so on…"

Gauge frequency of usage or occurrence to understand relevance to a participant

  • "Rank the following X features in order of how frequently you use them. Rank the feature you use most often as 1 and so on."
  • "Rank the following situations based on how frequently you experience them, with 1 being the situation that you experience the most and so on. (If there is a situation you are never in, mark this as N/A)."

Here are a few pro tips when using a ranking question:

1. Leverage an “Other (tap to type)” selection to catch your blind spots

For any ranking question, add the “Other (tap to type)” selection so that your participants can add something to the list that you may have forgotten about, or didn’t think held as much value as it does.

2. Allow participants to mark a selection as “N/A”

If you’re requiring participants to rank all choices, allow them to mark a selection as “N/A” to discover what isn’t applicable to them. Indifference can be just as valuable as importance. If something in your ranking list doesn’t apply to someone, you don’t want to force an answer out of them that may be false!

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✔ Multiple-choice

Multiple select questions are probably the most straightforward for research participants, and using these liberally in surveys compared to other question types can help reduce drop off and response exhaustion.

Multiple choice questions can be used to narrow down a larger list of what participants actually notice or enjoy about a product or service. Play around with single and multiple-select, too, which might offer more flexibility depending on your use case.

How to use a multiple-choice question for co-creation or ideation

Gather information about a participant's surroundings in the moment when they use this product with a multi-select question. Contextual information can be helpful in an ideation phase when putting together the pieces of a customer's story with your product or service.

Collect contextual information

  • In which of the following places do you regularly use X? [Pick list of places]

“Design a product” from a series of multiple choice questions

  • "Create with us: The next few questions will present you with a list of options/ways we might change a specific feature and you will be asked to choose one for each. Then at the end you will have created a product!"
    • 4-5 multiple choice questions: For example, “Select the material you would want this running shirt to be made out of”, “Select the length you want it from these pictures”, “Select the color”, “Now select the graphic”
  • "Are there any places in this list you have not used your speaker before but where you would be likely to use it or very interested in using it in the future?" [Pick list of different locations]

Limit a participants’ options to discover priorities

  • "Imagine you could only have three of the following features on your photo editing app. Which would you choose to keep? " [Pick list of editing features on a photo app]

Fill in the blank: Let participants finish your sentence.

  • "I would need ___ in order to purchase this speaker." [Pick list of what someone might need, e.g. more money, space, better music taste, etc.]

Use emojis as response options to understand someone’s emotional response or attitude towards an experience

  • "Which of the following emojis best captures how you feel when you X?" [Pick list of different emojis]

Here's another pro tip: Add an open-ended question after any multiple-choice question to prompt participants for elaboration on their response choice(s).

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✔ Photo

Photo questions are an excellent way for participants to engage in co-creation or ideation activities in a way that inspires and fosters creativity. These questions offer Scouts a visual means to express their thoughts, feelings, and ways they use or imagine products and services.

How to use a photo question for co-creation or ideation

Put yourself in their shoes:

  • How can a Scout’s surroundings help inform the direction your product or service should take?
    • "Take a photo that best represents “where you are” in this moment. What around you right now is influencing your experience. We want to see!"
  • What would a participant do?
    • "If you were to receive ___ product, where would you put it in your home? Take a photo of the location where you would put ___. Please point to the exact location in your photo."

We love to use drawing activities in our ideation studies. Letting participants put pen to paper can offer them a different way to think. You’ll be surprised how fun this can be! If you choose to add this question type, be sure to mention in the instructions of your activity, that the Scout will be completing a drawing as a part of the activity.

You can also mention this a second time in a checkpoint right before the drawing question.

  • "In the next question you will need a piece of paper and a pen to complete the question and submit a photo of your creation. Please retrieve these materials so you can be ready."

Give participants full power to create. This type of question can be hugely impactful because it can illuminate details of what they are imagining that may not come up in an open-ended response.

  • "Grab your pen and piece of paper! Please draw or map out your ideal grocery store experience. What does this look like to you?"

Get a lay of the land. To know how your product or service fits into a Scout’s world, you first need to know what their world is composed of.

  • "Grab your pen and piece of paper! We want to better understand how technology fits into your home. Please draw a map of your home and show us where you keep your technology devices. (Be sure to include the names of rooms and devices in your drawing.)"

One final pro tip: If you can add a video prompt after a photo, it offers a chance for your participants to elaborate on the image they shared, creating a powerful combo.

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The insightful nature of both co-creation and ideation research make it easy to lean on in-depth interviews and open-ended responses to extract this information from users. While we agree these are valuable tools, we encourage you to try out something new and faster by utilizing closed ended questions for this same purpose!

Bringing to light your users’ preferences or opinions on a product roadmap or potential new service can be as simple as a quick ranking question or multiple choice selection. These question types remove the heavy lifting and time investment that comes with in-depth interviews. When used in the dscout platform, question types produce easily downloadable charts which can be presented to stakeholders while still making space for creativity in your research.

How will you use closed ended questions to open the door to co-creation and ideation from your users?

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Interested in seeing how dscout can help you co-create with participants?

Connect with a member of our team to see the platform in action.

Colleen Martinez is a Research Advisor on our Customer Experience and Research (CXR) team at dscout. 

Emma Davis Pakrasi is a Senior Research Advisor on our Customer Experience and Research (CXR) team at dscout.

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