Designed by first year Products of Design student Louis Elwood-Leach, Crowdstorm is a brainstorming platform designed to foster fresh ideas, encourage global perspectives, and provide a unique space for collaborative ideation. Crowdstorm addresses the issue of solitary solution making by empowering ideas with varied perspectives. According to Louis, "Crowdstorm takes ideas out of our heads and grows them within a diverse community."
Louis developed Crowdstorm after he experienced the power of collaborative ideation firsthand while brainstorming with classmates. Students were tasked to imagine several ideas for future projects. Louis had difficulty, but after concentrating on the ideas of those around him, he refocused. “I saw how helpful it was to take a break from my work to contribute to someone else’s. If you share your ideas with other people, they can offer fresh solutions," Louis submitted.
Using the Crowdstorm app, people can share ideas with friends, contribute to ideas posted by strangers, or collaborate globally with individuals and corporations.
Inspired by weather, Crowdstorm uses a storm metaphor to visualise how concepts grow during the ideation phase. A partly-cloudy icon alerts the Crowdstorm community to an emerging idea, for example. Louis created a simple taxonomy that reflects the amount of participation that an idea receives: "The darker and deeper the weather gets, the heftier the storm. A cloud with one raindrop reveals that an idea has at least five contributors. The two-drop cloud icon represents an idea with over one hundred contributors, and the lighting bolt cloud shows an idea that's been pondered by over one thousand users!"
One unique Crowdstorm feature is what Louis calls the “karma concept.” Here, the app prioritizes the ideas of consistent contributors by pushing their ideas to the top of the screen. Louis offers, "we were all on a train contributing to Kevin's idea one day. I felt like the brainstorm was productive but we ran out of time so the rest of the group was neglected. I realised the need for all of us to benefit. That's where the karma concept came from. Everyone is encouraged to pay it forward."
“I want to build on the karma concept. If you add to someone else’s idea, your idea becomes a priority.”
Crowdstorm can help companies and individuals rally around good ideas, but Louis is open to other possibilities. "Pinterest started out as an app for weddings," for example. "Now, it's used for everything. The same could be possible for Crowdstorm." He envisions Sponsored Storms—a new way for companies to engage with customers by including them as a part of the ideation and decision-making process.
Going forward, Louis will test Crowdstorm with a variety of user groups to determine how the platform can best utilise the power of shared ideas. "There are no limits to what a platform like this could improve...it's really up to the users to be as inventive as possible."