How to: Write a Design Brief for a Web Site
Why do I need to write a design brief?
You have an idea for a web site (or, for that matter, a product) and you have ideas about how it should look; but how do you get these across to a designer?
With a design brief.
In a design brief you will set out the goals, objectives and key stages of your project and hand this to a design agency (or web developer).
A good design brief enables a designer or developer to gain an understanding of what your company does, what it wants to achieve and how. A good design brief will form the basis of the relationship that will endure throughout the project lifecycle, as both parties can refer to it. Often overlooked, the design brief is crucial, not only to the designer or developer, but also to YOU!
Below are some of the key factors you should bear in mind when writing a design brief.
A short introduction to your company will tell the designer a bit about who you are and what you do.
Introduce your company to the designer; explain:
—What your company does
—How long you have been in operation
—What your niche market is
—How you fit in to your industry sector
—Who your (online) competitors are
—What sets you apart from your competitors
Technical Competency/Technology Requirements
It helps the developer if you can give them an idea of your technical knowledge.
—Have you worked with developers before?
—Do you have any in-house technical expertise?
—Who will be the project manager from your side?
—Do you have any specific technical requirements or preferences for technology? (Maybe you have to use a specific technology to interact with an existing system).
Don’t worry if you are not technically minded: a good development team will guide you towards the optimum solution.
When developing or re-developing a web site, you should tell the developer why you want to develop your site and what you hope to achieve.
For example, do you want to:
—Gain newsletter subscribers?
—Obtain information from your audience?
—Encourage them to tell a friend?
If you are re-designing or re-developing a site, why are you doing it? It MAY be obvious, but you still need to be clear about your goals.
Your goals and objectives will become clear at this point; if not, you know that you’ll need to sit down and think about what they are. At this point, it will also help if you discuss the brief with others in the company to get a different perspective, which may help you refine your goals.
Your Target Audience
Defining your target audience is paramount when considering web design. Is your site targeting young, tech-savvy users or an older, broader spectrum of users? Are you targeting a particular market?
It helps if you can define:
of your target users.
If you have not got a budget – or it is up to someone else to allocate – you should try and give the designer/developer some idea of how much you will have to spend. This will give the developer a realistic idea of what can be achieved.
Moreover, if you have not got a budget, it can be difficult to be taken seriously and it may be difficult to engage a developer’s interest.
You should provide a realistic timescale for your project and outline any key stages for modules in your project.
Use plain English – try to avoid technical terms or jargon; if you must use them, supply a glossary or explain the terms.
If you already have a logo and branding, you should provide samples to the designer/developer. If you know what colours you would like to use, then tell the designer.
If you have no existing branding and want to leave all design elements up to the design team, you should still give them some inspiration; list some words that best describe your company or existing site.
By the way, it is perfectly legitimate to find inspiration from other sites! Do not look at a direct competitor’s site, but look at sites you like, sites you have used and that inspire you.