How to prepare an airtight brief for your web designer

A photo by Galymzhan Abdugalimov.

If you are looking to hire a professional web designer/developer, nailing the brief is absolutely critical to ensure you get not only a great looking website, but also have an enjoyable process along the way.

A web design brief not only spells out operational specifics such as budgets, timelines and requirements, but is also the point of reference where the designer goes to when figuring out how to deliver on a vision. Clearly communicating the requirements and ambitions for the website is thus crucial to get a beautiful website, and avoid frustrations and costly reiterations.

So what should you include in your brief? Read on.

The Web Design Brief

1. Your Business Environment

Giving your designer insight into how your business/industry operates and how your company is/wants to be positioned is very important to help him/her translate how your brand should be portrayed into the online space.

  • What are your products and services?
  • What is your company’s mission/vision?
    • What does that mean to the employees/customers?
  • What is the size of your business?
  • How do you rank business wise in the industry – are you a market leader or niche player?
  • How do you want to be perceived in the market?
  • Who would you consider peers in your market?
  • How are you different from them?
  • What is the typical buying cycle for your customers?
    • Impulse purchase
    • Planned purchase
  • What are your brand values?

2. Your Customers

  • Who are you current customers? (Define in as much detail eg demographics, localization needs)
  • Who are your ideal customers? (Define in as much detail eg demographics, localization needs)
  • What are they looking for in your website?
  • Why are they visiting your website?
    • Research
    • To find news
    • Information
    • Education
    • Pricing
    • To make a purchase
    • To find contact somebody

3.  Your Website

Generally, people are not that great at putting what they think makes a good website into words. Explaining what drove the need for a new website, and what a successful website would look like to you. The designer would be much better able to triangulate something you like, that also works.

  • Why do you need a new website?
  • What do you like about your current website? What don’t you like?
  • What are some websites from within your industry that you like? What do you like about them?
  •  What are some websites from outside your industry that you like?
  • What functions would you require?
    • Blog
    • Social media integration
    • Google Maps
    • Gallery
    • Newsletter signups
    • Members area
    • Integration with other systems
  • How will you measure success on your website?
  • Which of your brand values do you need to communicate with your website?
  • Where can your style guide/icon/imagery be found?
  • Example of brand materials like brochures or advertisements

4.  Budgets and timelines

By giving detailed budgets, timelines, and milestones, designers are better able to plan for the project and if necessary, help to manage expectations. These may include

  • Agreed upon budgets
  • Provisional budgets for out of scope items (brand design, illustrations etc)
  • Hard deadlines
  • Significant milestones that need to be reached

Many of the above would have to come out of prior discussion with the designer.

In conclusion, having a written brief ahead of getting started with the creation of the website is an important step to minimize any possible miscommunication, thus saving you precious time and money.