6 Ups (Quick ideation)

Prasad Kantamneni
4 min readSep 23, 2022

Give multiple solutions to a problem in a quick time.

6 Ups helps you to focus more on ideating on different design solutions to a problem and identify the best solution to go with. It is all about getting concepts and ideas down on paper without aiming for perfection. This is one of the cheapest ways to generate more solutions in a very short time.

6 Ups is the ideation and sketching technique where an individual or a group of people come up with six (6) different solutions to a single problem within the time frame.

Refer to the Ideation Fundamentals for different techniques of ideation.
What follows is the procedure on how to do 6 Ups.

Procedure:

6 Ups is a quick 3-step process that requires about 15 minutes (10 minutes ideation + 5 minutes discussion & finalization) for solving a problem.

Step 1:

Divide a paper into six (6) equal blocks as shown in the picture below:

Source: Medium

Step 2

Write down the problem you want to solve at the top of the paper and set a timer for 10 minutes.

Here is an example problem is taken from a clinic management application: How might we analyze the patient’s condition accurately?

Use the 10 minutes to fill the blocks with 6 unique solutions {You can refer to the information in the workflow descriptions while doing the sketches}.

Step 3

Once the 10 minutes are up, come back to each variation and identify what works and doesn’t work in that variation by writing the pros and cons. Identify the best and most effective solution out of the six after comparing the pros and cons of each variation. Sometimes, you might have to combine some/all of the six variations to get an effective solution. If that happens, go back and ideate to combine the best variations and come up with a single solution.

Note: If you are doing this in a group, share your ideas with others. Thereafter, put all the variations together and start voting. You can ask everyone in the group to choose the top 1 or 2 most-liked variation(s). Identify the top 2 variations which got the highest votes and try to combine both of them to come up with a final design solution.

Here are the 6 Ups for the problem — How might we analyze the patient’s condition accurately?:

Source: UXReactor

By the end of the 6 Ups session, you will have an effective solution that can solve your problem. After the session, draw the solution neatly on paper and try to address all the edge cases with the solution. Thereafter, the solution is ready for review and feedback.

Tips / Best Practices

  • Always use pen and paper for sketching, as digital tools divert your attention towards neatness.
  • Make rough sketches using rectangles, lines, etc. There is no need to be perfect or artistic.
  • Use proper UI conventions such that the people in the design field will understand quickly. Refer to the example shown below:
Source: UX design.cc
  • Always name and number each sketch variation so that it will be easy to identify and track.
  • Write the pros and cons of each variation to understand the feasibility of the solution.
  • Set a time limit yourself for every ideation.
  • Conduct a group ideation session for complex problems.
  • Create an outline structure of the screen with a fixed layout and get multiple xeroxes so that you can use those as templates while sketching. Refer to the example below.
Source: smashingmagazine.com
  • Test your designs with a group of users and improve accordingly.

Checklist

  1. Define a goal for the screen.
  2. Identify the right problem to solve.
  3. Set a time limit for the ideation for effective outcomes.
  4. Identify the pros and cons of every solution and decide the final solution, then make a neat sketch of it.

Quick Question

Select the best phases of design where 6 Ups will be more effective.

  1. During Kickoff/Project Ideations.
  2. Workflows.
  3. Wireframes.
  4. Visual Mockups.

Leave your answer in the comments section below and join our community for more interesting discussions on UX design

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Prasad Kantamneni

I am a Designer, Problem Solver, Co-Founder of an Inc 5000 Studio, and an Educator by Passion. My goal is to Demystify Design & teach Pragmatic strategies.