Creative Thinking & Writing
A skilled Digital / Web Designer needs a wide range of understanding in things such as Design Fundamentals, Photoshop, animation and coding websites.
These are all valuable skills but without an understanding of skills related to Writing and Creative Thinking to drive projects, solve problems, tell stories, create desire, communicate with stakeholders and engage users, they amount to little.
Knowing how to get the best out of your Creative Thinking abilities and then communicating them effectively with writing is what this module offers. You'll also get to work with scenarios that are typical for an emerging digital designer.
The Creative Thinking resources come first in order to build an understanding of the tools to generate effective solutions.
How will I be assessed?
You will be assessed against two units and the module should take approx. 3-4 weeks (40 to 50 hrs). The learning.gov.au resource has the latest versions of these units:
- BSBCRT301 Develop and extend critical and creative thinking skills
- CUFWRT301 Write content for a range of media
There are several Learning Tasks that you need to work through to build your skills up to the point where you feel comfortable enough to sit the Assessment Tasks.
If you feel you already have the necessary skills and knowledge to be assessed comptetent, then simply do the Assessment Tasks or apply for Recognition.
Before you opt for this, check the Elements and Performance Criteria from the unit outlines to see if you do have the skills and knowledge necessary for assessment (look for the "Evidence Guide" section in the unit outline) then see your teacher to negotiate a process to recognise your skills and/or experience.
Introduction to Creative Thinking
What is Creative Thinking?
Thinking can be categorised into many different types. We're concerned here with Creative Thinking. It's the kind of thinking that is most likely to produce new ideas. Famous "thinkers" through the ages have this to say about Creative Thinking and its result; Creativity:
- Edward de Bono : “There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns."
- Henri Matisse: “Creativity takes courage."
- Albert Einstein: “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on."
- Steve Jobs: “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Note: Search for "greatest creative thinkers" if you're after more examples of people who have been recognised for their achievements in this area.
An extended definition for Creative Thinking is provided by brainstorming.co.uk as shown below:
Creative Thinking is:
"...The ability to think of original, diverse and elaborate ideas... The process of exploring multiple avenues of actions or thoughts..."
How do I "do" Creative Thinking?
You do it all the time but to maximise your chances of doing effective Creative Thinking generally you need to be in a specific "space" or "frame of mind" and this varies for each individual.
In certain circumstances, human beings can often be at their most creative when under extreme pressure. When your survival depends on solving a problem there can be no greater incentive.
An example of this is the Apollo 13 mission that could have gone horribly wrong had it not been for the creative minds at NASA in fixing the carbon dioxide removal system.
Other less stressful circumstances such as taking a long hot bath, being at rest and in a comfortable uninterrupted situation also have been found to encourage Creative Thinking.
The worst environment for Creative Thinking
Given the above, ask yourself what the most unlikely environment might be for Creative Thinking to occur. While operating a hammer drill? At the checkout of a busy supermarket with three screaming children?
What else needs to happen to maximise your chances of effective Creative Thinking?
Firstly, the environment has to be "right" , and secondly, there needs to be a clearly defined problem or reason to be thinking creatively. For example, a client's web design Project Brief would be an example of a clearly defined problem.
Knowing that the increasing CO2 levels in your space capsule might kill you would be another.
If your problem isn't clearly defined then what energy or mortivation you have might be wasted unecessarily "going off at tangents".
Beware the Blockers
Next, there needs to be no "blockers" to Creative Thinking. One blocker could be stress. Another could be peer pressure and fear of scrutiny. "Stage Fright" or fear of failure in front of your peers is a common blocker.
Here's a resource from Robert Harris that discusses blockers to Creative Thinking and suggests ways to minimise them. It's a worthwhile ten min. read.
Age can prove a factor too; kids often have no fear when expressing their ideas. They're generally at the stage where they haven't accumulated the "emotional baggage" that adults carry with them.
Adults can carry a wide-range of blockers; the burden of:
- fear of peer scrutiny
- customs, behaviours, cultural and societal norms
- fear of offending others
Five Learning Tasks | Creative Thinking (12-15 hrs)
The following tasks give you the opportunity to explore the tools, knowledge and terminology to do effective Creative Thinking.
Compile all five tasks including any supporting artwork into one Word doc. Specify the name of the task, the course, the module, your name and date completed. Do not publish to your blog and submit using the Assignment Tool.
Learning Task 1: Creative Thinking (3 hrs)
- Choose an innovation (or invention) from any era in any area of industry or endeavour, research it, briefly describe the innovation, then describe in your own words the creator(s) and the circumstances that led to its discovery / creation. A couple of paragraphs is fine and add supporting images to help describe it.
- Describe an instance you are most proud of that is an example of your Creative Thinking prowess. In addition to documenting it in the Word doc., share it in our Creative Thinking Writing Forum in the thread titled: "Eureka Moments". Comment on each other's ie. if you think it's good or if you can suggest an even better solution.
- Find a Creative Commons image that you feel best represents your "Eureka Moment", include it in your Word doc.
Learning Task 2: The Ideal Creative Thinking Environment (2-3hrs)
You are part of a successful design agency which offers a wide-range of services such as logo design, corporate re-design, communication strategy, solutions for web / mobile device and content for TV / Film / Broadcast deployment.
Your satisfied clients pay early and keep coming back because you continue to produce innovative, memorable and lasting design solutions.
A big part of this success is your office environment.
Make a list of eight things that might contribute to this environment. Add any supporting artwork.
Hint: Research the strategies that "successful" businesses use to create environments that maximise their employee's ability to do Creative Thinking.
Conversely, now assume you are part of a studio where the potential for Creative Thinking is not-so-great. Describe this environment. Think of eight things that might impact negatively on your studio's potential for Creative Thinking.
Watch David Kelley's TED talk (shown opposite) for more background information on ideal CreativeThinking environments.
If you need a hand with this task or you've found a great resource, share it in our Creative Thinking/ Writing Forum. There's already some material there that should help.
Learning Task 3:
Thinking Tools & Techniques (2 -4 hrs)
Think of a scenario that requires you to come up with a new unique idea. Any scenario, it doesn't have to be related to Digital // Web Design.
Now find eight "Thinking Tools" you might find useful (for this scenario) to help you generate ideas and write a short paragraph describing each Thinking Tool, specifically how you used it.
Note: Ensure one of them is "Brainstorming" , you'll need to understand what that is for the next task.
Include screenshots where necessary and show your sources of information (URLs or text references).
Hint: A Mind-Map is another "Thinking Tool" . There's a long list of them in the BSBCRT301 unit description.
Learning Task 4: bubbl.us (2 - 4 hrs)
Mind-Maps are tools used to visualise the result of your Brainstorming.
bubbl.us is one of the easiest to use "Mind Map" tools around and the results can be quite "polished".
Note: there are alternatives, feel free to use another if bubbl.us isn't to your liking. If the alternative you've chosen is particularly good, share the URL in our Creative Thinking / Writing forum.
Presi is one option. Presi, in may ways is better. Presi offers more animation and as result can be more engaging for the viewer than bubbl.us. You can also embed your Presi in your blog or website and it remains interactive and retains its animation.
How you use it is beyond the scope of this resource, however extensive help is available on YouTube. If you find a good tutorial share it in our Creative Thinking | Writing Forum.
Grab a pen and paper and do some brainstorming on a topic of your choice (aim for around a minimum of 20 items related to your topic) then produce the Mind Map diagram for it using bubbl.us.
To get started with bubbl.us click the "Start Brainstorming" button...it's free-to-use but you're encouraged to PayPal them a donation.
Use colour and size to help categorize and structure your mind map; big "bubbls" to represent more important items and items sharing the same colour would suggest they have a common property or characteristic.
Getting Help using bubbl.us
Check out their demonstration videos if you need a hand using bubbl.us
Quick Tip: to increase the size of each "bubbl", just hover your mouse over it and a pop-up allows you to increase its size and change the text colour or bubbl colour.
- Export your diagram as a jpeg (see right) to use in your Word doc or as PNG if you need a transparent background.
- Share your Mind Map on your blog.
bubbl.us should also prove useful when you need to develop a site map for a web site; this is something you'll be expected to do in the Web Design Module.
Learning Task 5: Edward De Bono and his "six hats" (2 hrs)
Put simply, this method allows you to see things from different perspectives.
If you touched on this in Learning Task 3, now's your chance to expand on this popular Thinking Tool.
In your own words, write a page with supporting images/ diagrams, describing this Thinking Tool. Include in your description an explanation of what each coloured hat signifies.
Now it's your turn.
Think of a scenario that would benefit from the six hats method and in your own words, up to one page A4, in turn, wearing each hat, write a paragraph from that perspective.
For example, if you were a web designer starting a new business, while wearing the white hat, you might consider the facts (white hat = the facts) related to this project; such as the statistics related to success/ failure for small businesses in Australia, the location or the finances related to starting up a business.
Chris Adams 2017
Guide to submitting the five Learning Tasks:
Compile all your work into a Word file and submit for feedback using the Assignment Tool.
Do not publish to your blog ( with one exception; the only thing that can go on your blog is the bubbl.us mind map).
"Caffeine for the Creative Mind | 250 exercises to wake up your brain". (see opposite)
A recommended text full of interesting and challenging mental exercises that can trigger the creative process and "wake up your brain".
Assessment Task :
Brainstorm and Mind-Map a Project. (3 hrs)
Both Brainstorming and Mind Map diagrams are considered a popular and effective way to explore all issues related to planning a project.
Think of a project you'd like to do and as part of the pre-production / planning process you are to employ these (and other) Thinking Tools to maximise your chances of coming up with innovative ideas for the project.
On paper, brainstorm (A3 landscape) then use a Mind-Map tool of your choice all aspects of your project.
Your project can be anything, it's your project, pick one you're interested in and it doesn't have to be a website or mobile app.
For the Brainstorm, note down anything related to the project. Make it relatively neat and legible, you're going to take a photo of it.
Next use an online mind-mapping tool such as bubbl.us, to refine your Brainstorm into the Mind-Map diagram.
As a guide, aim to have at least 30 "bubbls". In this situation, the more "bubbls", the better.
Once you've finalised the Mind-Map, export as a jpeg (or png if you need a transparent background). Publish the diagram to your blog.
Include your name, date, description of your mindmap and project title.
Look at it using De Bono's Hats
Now think about this project from each of the six perspectives offered by De Bono's Hats. Write a paragraph about this project while wearing each hat. You are expected to produce at least 300 words on this.
You are assessed on the scope and quantity of your ideas; try to cover as many aspects of it as you can.
Look at it from one other Thinking Tool of your choice
Find one more Thinking Tool and use it to help generate ideas for your project. Describe the Thinking Tool with a brief paragraph then apply it to your project. The expectation here using this Thinking Tool is around 300 words.
Need Help ?
If you need a hand with understanding what's required for this assessment, jump in to our Creative Thinking / Writing Forum.
Compile the above into a single Word doc and submit using the Assignment Tool (do not publish to your blog). If it's bigger than 10MB, submit using your preferred online storage tool and supply the URL. Ensure you include the following :
- Cover page with your Name, Assessment Title, Date and Course Title
- A photo or scan of your Brainstorm (clarity of image is important so fix any errors in Photoshop, save as a .jpg 60 quality)
- The bubbl.us Mind Map
- De Bono's Hats
- Thinking Tool of your choice
Also publish your bubbl.us Mind Map to your blog with title and any supporting comment to aid comprehension. Supply your blog URL using the Assignemt Tool Notes Option.
You are assessed against
- Grammar / spelling
- Clarity of artwork (Brainstorm sketch and bubbl.us Mind Map)
- Scope and quantity of ideas. The more the better.
- Structure of the Mind Map; no duplication, coded using size and colour
- How closely you complied with De Bono's hats method
- How closely you complied with your chosen Thinking Tool method
- Completeness of evidence; MindMap, Brainstorm, DeBono, Your Choice of Thinking Tool & Mind Map on your blog.
Chris Adams 2017
Write Content for a Range of Media
Writing for the web is an important skill; 95% of the content on the web is written. (link to an article, by Oliver Reichenstein, October 19, 2006).
Search engines rely on text to index all that information.
In the context of Web and Digital Design, designers are expected to contribute ideas and opinions, provide different perspectives, evaluations and interpretations. Most of this information starts off and ends up in written form in a wide variety of formats.
What sort of writing is expected of a Multimedia developer?
In a typical junior developer role with a Cert. III Screen & Media "under your belt", you might be expected to write the following:
- write drafts for internal/ external communications
- transcribe telephone conversations, transcribe client dialogue, transcribe Skype calls
- write draft project briefs
- write draft internal procedures (file naming conventions, working with clients etc.)
- write meta information for photos/ videos/ mp3s
- take memos/ document and update OH&S procedures/ document and update Project documentation)
- record brainstorming sessions
- write draft questionnaires
- write draft Powerpoint / Slideshare Presentations
- write draft media releases
- edit existing copy for readability/ eliminate jargon
- edit existing copy to reduce word-count
- improve readability using appropriate format/ typesetting/ layout
- write captions for photos / videos
Work through the following activities to build your understanding of the importance of writing as a key tool in web / multimedia development.
Learning Task 1:
Obtaining Information using Fishing & Shooting Questions.
Asking the right questions to get the information you're after is an important skill to develop. Lawyers have the knack, as do Police detectives. If you've ever played "Twenty Questions" you should be familiar with the value of asking the "right" questions.
Obtaining information from a friend, client or colleague is a skill that can be learned through experience and practice.
Your goal in this task is to shape your questions so that you extract the maximum amount of meaningful info as you can with the least amount of effort or fuss.
There are two types of questions: "fishing" questions and "shooting" questions. A fishing question allows your interviewee to expand on their answer. A shooting question directs them to answer yes or no.
Role Play Scenario
You're in business for yourself providing a product or service. This can be for any business, it's your choice, and you need to better understand the needs and wants of your customers / clients. Getting the right info. from them is crucial to the success of your business.
Ask them ten questions
Briefly describe your business and the product or service you provide then compile a list of ten questions that you could ask your customer / client.
Your questions need to be designed to get the most / best information out of them to help you provide a product or service with the best chance of success.
Try to use both shooting and fishing questions. Identify which questions are "Shooting" questions and which are "Fishing questions".
Gather the ten questions and a brief introduction describing the "product or service" into a post on your blog and submit your blog URL using the Assignment Tool for feedback.
Learning Task 2:
Using a Survey to Develop a User Persona | 3hrs
An important part of the web design process is understanding what your typical user is like and creating "Personas" is an important part of this.
Research what information a typical Persona should contain in the context of a website development process. If you find a useful resource share it in our Creative Thinking / Writing Forum. Here's an article that should get you started.
If you're confident you understand what a Persona is, and how to develop them, then move on to the Role Play Scenario :
Role Play Scenario
As a web designer you have been asked to develop a website by your client and as part of your research you need to think of ten questions to ask a typical user of this proposed site to help develop Personas.
With your ten questions developed, pick a class mate to respond to them and create a persona (include a profile photo that best represents them, ideally they supply you with one).
Note: Develop your Persona using MS Word and spell-checked with the Australian spell checker.
Submit as a .pdf using the Assignment Tool for feedback, do not publish to your blog.
Learning Task 3: Develop a Web Design Brief Template. (3hrs)
There's no such thing as a single Brief anymore. In Web Design there are Design Briefs, Technical Briefs and Project Briefs.
In most cases, A Website Design Brief is filled-out by prospective clients after initial contact. It's used to formalise and structure the information ready for the next step which is usually a detailed proposal from your studio that expands on how you'll achieve their gols.
It's vital that your Website Design Brief covers as much useful info. as possible and is logically laid-out and easy to use.
In this activity you play the role as an emerging Digital / Web Designer and your manager has asked you to produce a Website Design Brief template that the studio can use for all web design projects including website re-design projects.
This template is then given to Clients to fill out supplying you with as much meaningful info. as possible.
At a minimum your template needs to contain the following:
- Header and Footer (include document version number, your Digital Agency name and website URL).
- Agency "style"; including logo/ colour/ type etc. Make one up if you haven't already got one. Spaces for the following:
- Project Name
- Project Primary Goals
- Project Secondary Goals
- Primary Contact Info.
- Project Audience (description of typical visitors to the proposed web site)
- Estimated time frame for the Project from start to finish
- Document Control ( Author / Date / Version )
- Space for stakeholder signatures
Find out what a typical Web Design Project Brief looks like. There are an increasing number of templates available on the Internet and they're all diffferent. Pick ones you like the look of and acknowledge the source (URL) in your documentation.
Now develop your own, and populate it with fictitious info. We're more concerned with the format and scope of your Project Brief Template rather than the content at this stage.
Two page A4 min. Word processed (spell-checked with the Australian spell checker).
Ensure your Project Brief contains all the items from the above list as a minimum. Use your preferred publishing tool to design it.
The expectation is two pages A4 and it needs to be "presentable". Imagine you'd hand this to a client for them to fill out. Spell checked.
Submit as a .doc using the Assignment Tool for feedback. Do not publish to your blog.
Learning Task 4: Online Writing Tools (2hrs)
Prior to the Internet a typical writer might claim their pen and notepad, camera and dictaphone might be their preferred writing tools but thesedays writers have a lot more tools to choose from.
Compile a list of five online writing tools you'd recommend to someone who was looking for writing tools. Hint. One of these tools needs to be an example of an emerging techonology.
Write a short paragraph describing each. The expectation is one page A4 max. Word processed (spell-checked with Australian spell checker).
Submit as a .doc using the Assignment Tool for feedback. Do not publish to your blog.
Assessment 1: Research Assignment (9 hrs)
Answer these research questions, word processed (spell-checked with Australian spell checker). The expectation is three pages minimum A4 inc. any supporting artwork.
- What is readability? Suggest two useful online readability testing tools. Run a web page (your choice) through your preferred tool and summarise the results in a short paragraph, add a screenshot and the URL of the site you tested.
- In your own words, describe "Gunning Fog" and "Flesch Index".
- What is Active Voice and Passive Voice? When should you use them? Write a short sentence demonstrating each style.
- What's a Cliché? What are the pros and cons of using them?
- What's a caption? What's the characteristic of a "good" caption? Take a picture and present it with a caption that reflects these characteristics.
- Using the same image, provide Meta Information to describe aspects of the image. The expectation is you can provide at least six categories of Meta information for this. At least one example must be worded to assist SEO. If you're unsure what Meta-Information is, refer to the Digital Imaging Module.
- Suggest formatting / layout / typesetting techniques that can improve legibility. Hint: appropriate word count per line is one factor that influences legibility, using whitespace is another. The expectation is you can find at least six design techniques.
- Now, conversely, format around 300 words (of your choice on any subject) in a way that makes legibility difficult.
- What is the "Inverted Pyramid" in the context of writing? Using the Inverted Pyramid style, write a 50 word paragraph describing an item of interest to you. Note: this style is also referred to as "Iceberg" style.
- In your own words, write one example for each of these writing registers ; Formal, Informal and Standard (aka Neutral).
- List five things to consider when writing for the web. Describe how writing for the web differs from traditional writing. Hint:
- Explain in your own words what is meant by "semantic html"? Why is it important to write semantically correct html? Provide three examples of writing semantically correct html. Hint: <strong>Important Useful Link</strong>
- What's acknowledged as "best practice" when writing a hyperlink into your text? Write an example and make it a hyperlink.
- Read this article on "Page Titles" and suggest a Page Title for the home page for a website you'd like to make. What do you risk if you don't have an appropriate page title ?
Submit as a .doc using the Assignment Tool for feedback. Do not publish to your blog. Include all references and links to sources of information.
Assessment 2: Summarise a Podcast (6-9hrs)
There's a definite skill in converting or "Transcribing" the spoken word into text.
This assessment tests your ability to listen to, interpret, draft, edit then compose the final version of the original spoken piece. You need to be able to isolate the important information and remove the redundant. It's a bit like layout design; if it doesn't add to the communication, then leave it out.
Imagine your summary is to be used by a colleague at a public presentation.
To help them both easily understand and convey the story, you need to shape your summary to include all the important facts, it needs to be logically structured too.
Start with an intro to "position the story" then expand on the main important points then finish with a closing paragrph or two.
Find a podcast or vidcast (less than 5 mins. duration) that interests you. There's an increasing number and variety of podcasts on the Internet.
Once you've found one you like, then write an initial draft by hand, then re-write it, removing any redundant info. then word-process it to arrive at the final version.
The final version should be minimum two pages A4 @ 12pt type. Use a "formal register" for the final version which means removing slang, jargon or anything that doesn't relate to the central communication.
Submit both the initial rough hand-written draft, (take a photo or scan and save as a .jpg) AND the final version (including the link to the podcast you chose) in a zip folder using the Assignment Tool.
Word processed (spell-checked with the Australian spell checker).
Include a cover page with your course name (CUA31015 Cert III Screen & Media), Module name (Creative Thinking / Writing) date and finally your name.
Publish the rough draft and the final version (as a .jpg) to your blog and include the link to the podcast. Embed the podcast into your blog for extra credit. Note: If you embed it your user can simply listen to it from your blog.
- Two page minimum.
- No redundant or unecessary information.
- Reflects logical structure; intro, middle and closing.
- Spelling and grammar needs to be correct based on Australian grammar checker.
- Clarity of transcription; can the reader understand what the podcast was about?
- Accuracy of information; has there been important information lost in the process?
Chris Adams 2017