Pair Design & Effective Ideation.

I have been thinking a lot about collaboration. What makes it so easy to brainstorm with some people and how can we apply that to every working session?


I recently came across the concept of pair design by a company called cooper ( there are two roles in pair design - a generator that leads concept creation, drawing a design idea and talking through the thought process of what they are proposing and a synthesizer that leads concept evolution, asking questions, raising concerns, connecting existing concepts, regrounding discussions in the project givens, and helping to solve problems that come up. It doesn’t always have to be the same person in each role but establishing these roles can help with running an effective working session and reduce fights at the whiteboard. 


How can you apply this in your day-to-day?

  • Setup a smaller meeting with just you and a Strategist/UXer/Designer to work through an idea or page.
  • Be prepared by having a goal for what you want to accomplish in the meeting – what do you need the most help with?
  • Decide on roles – who will be the Generator or Synthesizer?


Breakdown of the Generator and Synthesizer roles (From the Cooper Articles)




Focuses on

Establishing the interactive structure and flow between a human and a product, service or environment.

Articulating and synthesizing the overall experience users have with the product, service, or environment.

Takes responsibility for

Driving the concept direction

Ensuring that the concept is coherent and satisfies user needs and goals


during design 


Generating ideas toward a solution

Synthesis of ideas, defining the problem, clarifying the solution, explicating rationale


Concept, visualization

Analysis, communication

Disposition toward creativity


Methodical, synthetic

Comfort zone


Evaluation, clarification

Approach to problems

Draw a picture, top-down

Tell a story, top-down


Structure, flow (interface)

Cohesiveness, context

Thinks in terms of

Concepts, models, experience (screen flow)

Anatomy, relationships, experience (scenario)


Additional articles for reference

Lauren Werner

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