How to write a successful website brief

Creating a website brief is important exercise for you and the company you commission to help build your project. It help both parties formulate ideas and thoughts from the outset that create a list of key deliverables for the project. It will also help consider what resources will be needed to successful complete the project.

Category: Content | Read time: 15 minutes

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What is a design brief?

A design brief is a document that outlines the purpose and the goals of a project that can be send out to external parties in order for them to pitch/quote and then subsequently develop the end solution.

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    The role of a website project brief for a Web Design company

    Website briefs are an important client management tool for project managers in order for them to be able to allocate resources within their team based on the websites requirements. It allows project managers to be able to ensure that the right team members have the right level of information to complete their part in the process in order for key milestones to be hit.

    Plotting out projects with deadlines will ensure the project will hit the overall deadline of the project. It can identify any potential bottle necks at an early stage.

    This is why it is important to take time to produce a thorough brief as to not miss key details that might cause delays further down in the project timeline. Issues or delays at later stages of the project can cause time delays and also financial overspend on the projects original budget.

    “It allows project managers to be able to ensure that the right team members have the right level of information to complete their part in the process in order for key milestones to be hit. ” 

    How do website briefs benefit business owners?

    A website brief helps business owners to consider what a successful project would mean to them. What requirements are necessary for it to be a good return of investment. An example could be is: The website must integrate with WorldPay Payment Gateway to take payments from customers on product sales through the ecommerce store.

    It is vital to have a thorough brief in order for the developers to be able to accurately quote on the project to allow the business to make a decision about signing off with working with that agency. No one wants any awkward budget discussion when the project has far exceeded the original budget set.

    What should go in a successful brief?

    A strongly written brief should allow a third party to gather as much information about you and your requirements at the outset to be able to make an accurate quote. It helps ensure everyone is on the same page and the team are best suited to the project before contracts are signed.

    When writing your brief you should consider following points as a good starting point to get you started. This will help answer the key questions the other party will need to know when collating information about your business and its needs.

    1. A brief history of your business & a clear business mission statement
    2. Analysis of your old website – What is currently not working? What should be retained?
    3. Your goals and KPIs for the new project
    4. Are there any key target markets and any niches you want to attract?
    5. What you are not looking for? In terms of your competitors if they exist.
    6. Who are your competitors?
    7. Basic level of functionality and needs
    8. Budget & deadlines you have for the project
    9. Conclusion – Summary and closing remarks of what you require of the agency.

    Brief History & Business Mission Statement

    When employing an individual or agency to build your website or application they will always look at your existing website if you have one to inform them of the services or products you may offer and also your tone of voice.

    The developers of the project should have an understanding of what makes you unique.

    As part of the brief it always beneficial to add a brief history of the business as this will help the individual or agency to keep these in mind when producing design visuals that meet your needs. 

    Including your business mission statement will elevate the brief and drive the project to ensure it is successful as the mission is strong throughout the subsequent designs as your project begins to evolve. The developers of the project should have an understanding of what makes you unique.

    Analysis of your old/current website

    When a business is redesigning a website it is always important to analyse what worked and didn’t work effectively in your current website. An example being there was there a lack of cohesion in the layout which has led to poor user engagement. This will be extremely useful to consider when designing the new project to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes.

    How to ensure your goals are SMART

    Your goals and KPIs

    Consider the goals that you would measure as being a great success for the new project.

    Ensure that they are SMART. This will ensure that your investment has had a good return of investment.

    Identify key target markets – new and old

    Knowing the target audience for your business is vital to ensure that your website returns well on your investment. This will inform some of the design and development decisions so it is important to do some market research as to not cause a barrier for your target market.

    Competitor Analysis

    Are competitors doing something different that is against your company ethos or you have an unique edge to others on the market. Doing some market research on your competitors helps inform the website agency or developer what you are and are not looking for in the new website. It isn’t however wanting to copy a website look and feel its to gauge what you can do to add a unique edge but still meet your business goals.

    Functionality

    At this stage it is important to notify your website developer of features and functionality you require on your website. For example do you want a search form, Instagram feed or the ability to connect to other web services etc. This will help the development company produce what is called a functional specification. This is where functionality is broken down in order to identify everything that is required and can then be matched to the outcomes of what you want from that feature.

    Budgets & Deadline

    It is important at this stage to be realistic when it comes to budget. A website with lots of features will require more developer time so this will increase the budget.  It may be that the developer works on a phased approach to ensure the financial viability of the end product. Be open to budgetary chats as all parties work together to produce a successful end project.

    Be upfront and honest around deadlines. If you want to launch a website for a certain time then be clear from the outset and then both parties can work on what is possible in that timeframe.

    Add a conclusion to brief

    A concise paragraph that strongly outlines the project as a whole to inform agencies and developers what work they need to propose to you.

    Strong brief = Greater Business Partnership

    A successful website brief allows external service providers a vision of the needs of the business to allow them to make the best decisions when designing your new website. It helps generate good discussions between both parties that will hopefully lead to a successful end product as you are both working to meet your website goals.

    As with all projects it is important to continually assess and evolve with the needs of your customer base. Building a solid relationship with your developers will make project these future changes feel less daunting as you have all build up trust and rapport.