1] Metaphors.

Great ideas can stem from using themes and metaphors. Basing a site design around the idea of a school, for example, can open up a whole avenue of ideas. A great design works because the theme houses and conveys the content seamlessly.

2] Don’t take all day to brainstorm.

It always helps to throw ideas around with a colleague or friend (as long as he knows what he’s doing). Try to have a couple of short sessions of brainstorming rather than one massive one as ideas can quickly go cold.

3] Get off that computer!

Sometimes it’s best to just have a break. Leaving the computer can seem like going on holiday in rush hour, but it usually helps if you just take a 10 minute break and get some fresh air. If you can’t do that, try listening to some music, or taking your jumper off.

4] Join a forum.

A lot of creatives work from home, but that doesn’t mean they can’t talk to anyone. There are a lot of really helpful and talented people out there willing to have a chat about design, you just need to find them

5] Think Brand

Try going to a few courses on branding, as brand thinking is vital to developing the way you think. Keep your ideas squeaky simple, and 9 times out 0f 10 they will work. Thinking in terms of branding means you can develop key words to stem your ideas from. Complexity just doesn’t work.

6] Use a sketchbook.

I almost always start with ideas that I have scribbled down in my trusty sketchbook. Whenever I get an idea I just make sure I get it down on paper. This always helps as whenever you’re stuck at a later date, you don’t have to go out and buy another book, just refer to your own! Don’t just keep it to ideas though, put URLs, book titles, words, and all the sketches down that you can. It will develop into your creative mind, on paper.

7] Get your specs straight.

Always ensure you know the media you’re going to be using at the start of working on a project. Knowing that there’s going to be photography involved means you may need to think about locating a shoot. 3D may mean getting some help to make it look that little bit better. Taking it to print in the last minute is also not advised: things never go to plan! Ensure you know the scale of production you’re going to be dealing with, and research the printing processes you’re going to use.

8] Draw a map.

I find it helps to visualise the brief. Highlight key words and phrases, and jot them down in your trusty sketchbook. Then see how these ideas could link up by drawing lines between them and branching out from those core ideas. Pretty soon you’ll have enough on the page to sketch out some decent ideas.

9] Rough it out.

Once you have THE idea, and it’s on paper, try putting it together at low res on the computer. This way you can see what you might need to rethink or improve to get the job done well. At this stage you don’t need to worry about perfect dimensions or colours, just see how it goes.

10] Take a shower.

No, not because your odor is putting your colleagues off, but because (apparently) running water increases brain productivity. Try not bring the brief in with you, but spending time in a place that you feel really comfortable in can greatly help those ideas flow.