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Library Subject Guides

Digital Creativity: a Practical Guide

Plan and collaborate

A practical guide to getting digitally creative and using digital tools and technologies to explore work, ideas, and research.

Planning and collaboration

Digital creativity isn't just about using digital technologies to make things. There's also a lot of planning and collaboration that comes with developing projects, and you might want to apply digital creativity approaches to these areas or think about how they are part of the process. Using digital creativity can also open up new opportunities for collaboration!

Getting started with digital creativity

If you're planning a research project, no matter how big or small, you can use digital creativity tools to help you do this. You might initially want to explore your ideas, as we saw in the previous section of this guide.

Here are some other things to consider:

  1. Understand your skills
    It's really important to know your own skills and your potential to learn new tools and methods. You might want to create a website or app, but you're not sure how to do this. Think about how much time you have to dedicate to learning something new and think about any alternatives that might exist. If you're applying for external funding, recognise and build this into your proposal - allocate time and budget to cover any training or external support you might need. 
  2. Think about permissions
    If you're considering collecting media as part of your research, and think you may want to use this later in a project output (eg on a website, or in a podcast), be sure to include that in your proposal. Perhaps you want to make a dataset open source in the future. Think about the benefits and risks of doing so, consider the consent and ethics of using the data in this way, and seek permission from participants early.
  3. Consider longevity of outputs
    Perhaps you think you'll want to create a Twitter account, a short film or podcast to share your research findings at the end of project. Creating these outputs can be straightforward, but ensuring that they are hosted and maintained beyond the lifespan of the project can be trickier. Factor in any costs you might need in order to cover this. Think about where the outputs will be stored and shared, and who has access. If you're applying for funding, show that you have considered impact beyond the initial project activity. The Open Research team can help with these considerations.

Planning where to use digital creativity in your project

Thinking about where you want to incorporate digital creativity in a project early can help you to identify any funding, training or support requirements you might need. Here are some ideas:

Research methodology

  • Bring creativity into online surveys, by using media content (eg videos or images) to make the experience more interesting and interactive. 
  • Consider using social media polls and Q&A boxes to gather data online, alongside other more traditional interview or survey methods.
  • Photo elicitation interviews involve asking participants to bring an image to discuss. Using digital images or other media content to encourage conversation is a creative way to gather insight into feelings and experiences.
  • If you were to undertake peer research as part of a project, you could make it digitally creative by incorporating videography or photography, giving participants the tools and guidance to collect media content in order to document and share their experiences.

Working with data

  • Learn Google apps script or coding to work with your data in a creative way. Even something basic like colour-coding a cell or incorporating imagery can make it feel more creative and visual. Scripts can also help you creatively collate and display data.
  • Create an infographic to share your research - there are tools such as Canva which can help you do this or, if you have the budget, hire a designer to do this for you.
  • Develop an interactive dashboard in Google Data Studio to allow people to toggle information and explore data.


  • Alongside a written paper, thesis or dissertation, you could develop an additional digital output such as a website or a video. Digital creative outputs give you the ability to share your findings with a broader audience, while encouraging them to interact and engage with your work.
  • Other digitally creative outputs include short films, animations, documentaries, virtual reality experiences, soundscapes, games or podcasts.
  • Make a presentation in PowerPoint or Slides more engaging by incorporating media or animated transitions. You can also involve your audience by using the Q&A function in Google Slides so that they can ask questions. And did you know that you can include music and autoplay slides in PowerPoint? 
  • Take a look at some examples of creative outputs from the University of York and beyond.


There are plenty of tools and websites available to help you collaborate with others in creative ways. Here are some examples and ideas for how you could use them.

  • Padlet - gather inspirational images, links and ideas on a shared 'padlet'
  • Google apps - work together on a share Doc or Slides, or use a Jamboard (there are physical ones in the Library too!)
  • Google Drive - use Drive to store, share and manage files
  • Slack - create a channel to share ideas, links and files
  • Trello/Asana - use project boards to plan projects and allocate tasks (if you're using the free versions of these, don't put confidential data into them!).
  • Zoom / Google Meet - talk online, share your screens, collaborate on a digital whiteboard

Communicating digitally

Geese gathered, looking like they're chatting

When collaborating you need to decide how you'll keep in touch with others you're working with. Choosing the right digital communication tools can help make collaboration seamless and ensure that you have all the information you need and can easily discuss ideas and plan.

Video conferencing

Video meetings have become a staple over the past few years. Whether you love them or are fed up of them, it's good to think about how you use the featurs of video conferencing and other tools for collaborative working. For example, using shared spaces like Google Docs, Jamboards, and Padlets to collate ideas and plans can be very helpful. Deciding what needs to be done over a call and what could be done either synchronously or asynchronously through something like Google Docs can also be useful.

Email and chat

There are myriad ways to contact people these days, from a simple email to a range of chat tools built into different apps and services. When collaborating on a project, choose how you're going to do the majority of communication. For example, do you need a Slack channel or a Google Group for emailing? Will you mostly be meeting, either in person or virtually, or will you need to talk a lot outside of meetings?

Think creatively too. Could you use multiple forms of communication, e.g. including images, GIFs, or emojis? Would a whiteboarding tool allow for more freedom of expression? Or would a spreadsheet actually help keep track of things outside of meetings?