That Blue Square Thing

Writing an Outstanding Proposal

Every project brief starts with a proposal.

Proposals are hard work. You've only just read the brief and already you need to start getting some ideas together for whatever products they want you to make. So how do you do that really well?

Be aware that this page is written mainly for people aiming for A and A* grades.

Understand the Markgrid

The proposal, if you do it well, can contribute marks to the Designing strand of the markgrid. By itself it won't get you these marks, but it can play a part in getting them - and certainly make it a lot easier to get into the top markband.

The key markband points you need to know about are:

Marks (max. 7) What you need to show
1-3 marks "...have made brief comments about design decisions"
4-5 marks "...have made detailed comments about design decisions"
6-7 marks "...have justified their design decisions" (said why these choices have been made)

So, to get into the top markband you need to write in detail about what you intend to produce and justify your choices. So, what do you have to write about...

Writing the Proposal

The most important thing to do is to do what the SPB tells you to do. Yes, there are some general points that are almost always needed, but the key is to include exactly what the SPB says it wants in the proposal.

Treat this as an extended piece of writing. Write in paragraphs but use subheadings, bullets or tables where appropriate. But write in detail. Expect an outstanding proposal to be at least 2 sides of A4 - at point size 10 or 12.

You might structure it as follows:

There will often be a specific idea you need to include in the proposal as well. For the Clueless II project this is the question you are going to ask and the hints you plan on working on.

The hard part is knowing what to put in the components section.

The Components

This is a standard section. It's always there.

We're looking for you to give us an outline of what you intend to make and how you intend to make it. The problem is you might not know what you intend to produce!

That's OK. We're looking to see you developing your ideas. This will help to do that. It's OK to say "I'm not sure, but I think I might..." - and if you change your mind when you come to making the real thing then that's absolutely fine.

One good thing about the proposal is that it's the one piece of work we can give you clear feedback on. In fact, we have to agree it before you can move on. Take full advantage of that.

An outstanding components section will deal with each product one by one. For each of them it will answer the following questions:

1. What will it look like?

The more detail you can provide here the better. Try to use examples to illustrate what you mean.

You might also need to think about interactive elements. These can be things which change when the user mouses over them or clicks them, or can be ways in which users can enter words or numbers somehow. They might include rollover images or sounds that play when a user clicks a button or image.

Remember, we're looking for detail.

Interactive elements are often required. Better projects will often include them anyway - a nice set of rollover images or an animated banner will tend to add marks in the products section.

2. What will happen? How will it work?

Many products will require something to happen - an animation, some movement and so on. You need to detail the sorts of things that might happen - how will things appear and disappear? How will sounds start or end? Will there be transitions or fades?

This section is particularly important for anything where movement is needed such as an animation or movie. Really focus on it for those products.

3. Why have you made these choices?

This is where you get into the top markband.

You need to justify why you've chosen to do things the way you have. Ideally this will get linked back to the target audience and what their needs are. Again, do this in detail and show that you've really through about it.

Detail? Yes, really. Every choice you make should have a reason (or more than one reason...) linked to it. Do it for all of them - even when the reason is "obvious" - we still need to know that you know what it is...