How do I write a web design brief?

Doctor Digital, I need to write a design brief for my new website, where do I start?

Doctor Digital Says

If you are building a new website, or significantly overhauling an old one, creating a strong clear brief for your designer is essential. An outline of what the project will cover can enable you to be more organised, stay on track, and stick to your budget. It also provides a way to avoid scope creep and manage expectations from both sides. But what is a website design brief, and how do you create one? Let’s dive in and find out.

A website design brief outlines the web design process, requirements, and timelines. Its purpose is to provide both parties with a clear understanding of what’s expected in terms of project workflow, deliverables, and post-launch services. The brief also provides you as a client with an accurate estimate of costs and timeframes for delivery. This is a result of identifying all key requirements and deliverables early on in the process and being realistic about how to execute on them.

A website design brief is usually created by the business owner or principals and will also often be requested by a web designer in one form or another when the initial scope of work is being created – this is also a sign that you are working with a good team who want to make sure they understand your needs and the purpose of the site. It's a good idea to have all your information together in a sharable file like a Google doc or a Dropbox, that way you can store large files like image and design assets, plus keep your brief, content, contract, ideas, and correspondence all in one place and easily give your design team access to it.

In order for a web design brief to be effective, it needs to be thorough and clear. You don’t want to leave any room for misinterpretation, as this can lead to project revisions that take up more time and money.

Here are some of the essential elements required to make a brief that will be clear and concise:

  • Describe your business
  • Come Up With a Website/Project Overview
  • Define the Project’s Goals
  • Identify the Site’s Target Audience
  • Understand your competitive landscape
  • List the Design Requirements and Specs
  • Agree on the Timeline and Budget
  • Sign a contract with all of the project deliverables clearly listed

Regardless of whether you are using a freelancer or an agency, you must always have a contract that steps out the points above. If the web designers are unwilling or reluctant to have a formal contract with these details it is worth considering using a different firm.

Your website is the digital front door to your business. It is your key point of customer research and engagement and is an investment in a key asset rather than an expense, so budget for it that way and look at the value you will get from it over the next few years.

Following the prompts above, you should have gathered all your data together, and ideally, put what you want down in a logical way that is easy to understand. This doesn't have to be a perfect and complete document, it is a launchpad to help your future design team get to the heart of what you need so they can give you a comprehensive quote for the work and turn it into a contract and project schedule.

The better the brief, the better the project will be, so invest some time and effort here and reap the rewards with your amazing, high ranking, compelling, and converting new or updated website. If you are ready to get started, have a look at our factsheet on how to create a web design brief to give you all the details you need.

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