Heat Map

Heat map is an exercise to get a general feel for which of the ideas that have been sketched are the most interesting or popular, while avoiding bias and too much discussion.


  • Estimated time needed: around 20 minutes
  • Team: Facilitator, Note-taker, Stakeholders

Why should we do this exercise?

Normally in this type of situation we would have everyone present thier ideas, and explain them. Not only does this take a long time but it also introduces bias to our decision making, after all a mediocre idea with a great sales pitch is still a mediocre idea.


At the start of the session take about 20 minutes to look at all the concepts silently. Add little green dots on ideas that you like including your own. There's no limit to the number of green dots you can use. The idea is that this will create a heat map of interesting ideas.

Ask the team to do the following, while you set a timer for 20 minutes.

  1. Don't talk
  2. Review each solution sketch.
  3. Put votes on the most interesting, and exciting ideas.
  • This can be a whole sketch, a small part of a sketch or a word.
  • They can use as many dots as they want.
  • They can vote on thier own ideas.
  1. Put more votes next to things that are particularly interesting.
  2. If they have a question they should add a note next to the sketch.


  • Set more time if people feel they need it.
  • Don't feel like you need to vote a certain way because others have placed dots there. If you feel strongly about an idea vote for it. Others may think the same way as you.
  • If you can, try to vote for some riskier ideas or elements. It is often the high-risk high-reward features or ideas that help a product standout from competitors. If the gamble does not pay off we will know it in the prototype stage. It will be caught so early that there is no real risk involved.


Two artboards with 3 sticky-notes on each board with a heat map of dot votes indicating things to focus on.