Problem Solving Cheat Sheet (Critical Thinking)

Sticky Notes & Thinking | Ben Graham: UI/UX Designer Archive -

Problem Solving Cheat Sheet (Critical Thinking)

The Problem: Someone (we won’t mention) goes straight into solution mode from the problem/s we need to solve.

The Solution: Download this Critical Thinking Cheat Sheet (multiple formats: pdf, docx, rtf & pages) and tinker away…. ūüôā It’s brief snapshot of some critical thinking training….feel free to update it.

Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment



Sticky Notes & Thinking | Ben Graham: UI/UX Designer Archive -

Studies are the source of all truth

The Problem: Sometimes we can believe (as truth) what is written, particularly if it’s academic or published from what is presumed an authoritative source.

The Solution:¬†Subjects are based on what we currently know about them and¬†research is used to ask questions to find the improved answers, to better what we know about the particular field. Peoples understanding and academic knowledge can change based on research. Chances are we don’t need to re-invent the wheel every time, so we can look it up and be resourceful. There are questions to ask if validating research, as sometimes studies get it wrong.

How often have you heard in the media, a new study claims this? Particularly involving medical science.

“Publish or perish” is the mantra,¬†but sometimes research gets it wrong (The Economist article).

Studies are not the source of all truth and can be misleading or inaccurate.

Some studies however have been verified to be the most current and accurate source of information in a particular field.

Sticky Notes & Thinking | Ben Graham: UI/UX Designer Archive -

Good designers make good design decisions

The Problem: When non-designers make design decisions, when non-physicians play “Doctor Google”, when a “non-financial” advisor gives you financial advice….

The Solution:¬†A common problem for capable people is from time to time they like to think, “I can figure this out”, then some how (crazily enough) they think “I can do this, then (extraordinarily crazily enough) they can get to the train of thought “I know better”…Hmmm see where I’m going with this!

Physicians study medicine for at least 7 years  (in Australia) or more to specialise in a particular field.

I’m also sure a financial advisor knows more about finance and getting a better return than I do.

Designers can commonly study design for three-four years at university in Australia along with continued ongoing training and development throughout their careers.


I have seen this train-of-thought often in life. I see wealthy people on Grand Designs sacking people, not taking advice and thinking “we know best!”, I chuckle every time…


Invariably because of this thinking the project goes downhill, the budget blows out (by a small fortune) and everyone is all of a sudden “upset” and “concerned”. How could this be so?


Designers from time to time get things wrong and need to iterate better solutions…

But often:


¬† “Good designers make good design decisions”



Sticky Notes & Thinking | Ben Graham: UI/UX Designer Archive -

Self Serving Bias

The Problem: We all from time to time like to think we’re pretty good, irrespective¬†of what may be true from an objective view. This can lead to a “Legend in your own lunch box” mentality or in terms of psychology can also lead to a¬†self serving bias.

The Solution: Be honest with yourself and realise no matter what accolades you have, if you have any “there’s always going to be someone better at it”. Try to think about and appreciate others more often. I’m pretty sure if I’ve completed a good design, created an¬†app, someone else has too, before I did.

Let’s face it, having a built up ego is bound to fail anyone.

Refrain from illusions and thinking with a self serving bias, it’s a career limiter. Limit expectations and be a team player.

We all can be guilty of this thinking from time to time as it’s a human process of thought. Refrain from this and let others recommend you, if they choose to do so.

Chances are people will know just how small the lunchbox really is.



Sticky Notes & Thinking | Ben Graham: UI/UX Designer Archive -

Quick to respond, wrong answer…

The Problem: People can sometimes respond too quickly and the answer is incorrect or only part of the solution.

The Solution: Think longer before answering and listen to everyones responses. “Savour the words” when speaking. Introverts naturally don’t like to be outspoken and can have good answers, possibly because they have more time to think. Ask “the quiet one in the room” and others what their thoughts are. The more time put into thinking about questions and listening to peoples answers, usually correlates to a better solution. Often the last to speak is the first with the correct or improved answer, so practice being the last person in the room to respond when given the chance.

Sticky Notes & Thinking | Ben Graham: UI/UX Designer Archive -

I’m a designer, let me design!

The Problem:¬†Designers tend to get into the habit of practicing design and reading material only on design. I’m a designer, let me design!

The Solution: Read and learn about web development or even become the “developers best friend” when designing applications or websites. Speak to many people on the job and find out as much as you can. Know as much as possible about the solution you’re designing for. This means speaking to all kinds of people, knowing different processes, reading documents, searching online and learning sometimes difficult technologies and techniques. This improves design outcomes, the solution and your career. Know how thing’s work (at every level possible). Some of the best designers I’ve worked with get into the good habit of knowing as much as possible about the what they are designing, the teams and clients perspectives. Clients offering perspectives and ideas from personal experiences or skills (outside of design) is a valuable thing.

Build relationships and try (as much as possible) to learn about different areas in relation to design.

Sticky Notes & Thinking | Ben Graham: UI/UX Designer Archive -

Create an “Edgy” Design!

The Problem:¬†Sometimes we say or think “I like this design” or “I love this design” and the client asks “create an edgy design”.

The Solution: Justify the design decisions rationally and logically. Try never to take things personally when receiving feedback. If talking about a designers work with them, let them know it’s not personal.

Ask: Is it the best solution for the problem at hand?

Try to understand the design and ideas behind it. Be contextual and provide feedback from what you have learnt about design.

Think and speak about a design technically & then creatively.

Designing can be considered part science and part art…But it’s not art, nor science.

I may “like this design” but this design may have flaws.

Try to be as objective as possible when thinking about and discussing a design (it’s hard!).

  1. Gestalt
  2. Design Principals
  3. Visual Hierarchy