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Building a
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Web project
Further reading
1. Brainstorming at a Distance
2. Brainstorming techniques
3. When to get to work

2. Brainstorming techniques

The following includes a list of various brainstorming techniques used by different Web developers in the creation of their projects:

Word association

The designers at Metadesign use a technique called word association to develop the feel for their site. The process begins with the question "What do we want this project to be?", and then designers throw out as many ideas that come to mind.

But, the goal is not to find complete sentences or definitions, they're "looking for thoughts, for certain colors, for people. By agreeing on these descriptive ideas, your team will approach the project from the same perspective."

This technique translates very well to online chat sessions where team members can quickly type associated words that come to mind.

Mind mapping

Mind mapping can be tricky online if you don't have a whiteboard to share sketches. A possible workaround is a text-based mind-mapping session. Start with a  trigger word that lies at the heart of your idea or goal. Then start writing words that relate to that trigger word.

Each person should contribute their thoughts. Don't worry if at first these words don't seem to be a perfect fit. You don't need to follow any predetermined path or outline. The goal is to explore as many options as possible. For an example of a mind-mapping session, you can visit TQ Guide Live Internet Connection Required on the ThinkQuest Web site.

Take a virtual field trip

One of the most effective ways to get ideas is to see what other people have already done. The section of this guide called "Web Project Examples" lists a number of examples to review before beginning your own project.

Each member of the team should take some time exploring the different sites and choose several of their favorites. Once you've compiled a list of favorites, share these with your teammates. Describe what you liked about the site, what you found to be effective, and what you might change.

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Make variations

If your team is having a difficult time getting their imagination going, try taking an existing Web site and see how you could make it better. The goal is to find a starting point as an inspiration. Don't just copy ideas, you want to take ideas and make them your own.

The jazz musician Kristen Korb, in a recent interview, described the process as "taking what's around you and looking at it from a new perspective." Many jazz musicians will hear a riff they like and begin to work with it. That riff than triggers new ideas. The key is not to just copy ideas, but to take these ideas and create music of your own.

In the following section we'll look at some techniques for organizing these new ideas as well as what to do when we put these ideas into action.

Section: Brainstorming introduction
Page 1: Brainstorming at a Distance
Page 2: Brainstorming techniques
Page 3: When to get to work

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