How To: Write a Website Design Brief for Modern Business
A good design brief consist of so many different parameters. These parameters help a designer to make informed decisions. When you take the effort to inform your clients about these parameters and include them in their website design brief to you, it makes your job all the more easier.
A comprehensive and detailed website design brief becomes the holy grail for you as you make various important decision throughout the entire design process. When you are clear about your role and what is expected out of you right from the beginning, you will be able to perform all the more better as a designer. These constraints in turn will help you to execute a website redesign project plan as expected.
In this article we’ll explain in detail, the most important parameters that are required in a good website design brief. This should help you to carry out your design work without having to deal with problems with your clients in the future.
#1 Larger Goals and Smaller Objectives
The very first thing that you should understand is your client’s expectation out of the new design that you would give them. Is this going to be a redesign work or reworking on an existing site with minor improvements, or is it a totally new design, starting from scratch? Does your clients have proper ideas as to what they expect out of their site or are their ideas more vague and are generalistic in nature?
The ability to make your clients pinpoint what their goals for the site are, is a talent of its own. You need to understand it the best you can so that you can create a design that satisfies their needs. Different goals require different ways of approaching things and thought processes. You can change the way you do things mid way and hence a clarity of ideas between both the parties, right at the starting stage, is a good place to start at.
#2 Time and Money
Budget is an important parameter in your design brief and you should give enough attention to it. Some clients think otherwise mainly because they feel that, if they end up sharing their budget with you, before you provide them a quote, they might be at a disadvantage as there is a possibility that you overcharge them for the maximum amount for the minimum amount of work.
Many clients don’t really understand that knowing the budget earlier would help a designer plan things accordingly. Trust is a very important hidden factor that’s at play here. You should make them believe that you’ll get the most benefit for their money. Getting this done successfully requires experience and I’ve faced resistance from clients in my personal experience while trying to make them understand the importance of knowing the budget beforehand.
Time is almost as important as money itself. A good number of clients do not have any idea about designing in general and how long it takes to design a good website. Most of them don’t understand that good design takes time to evolve.
Most clients have certain deadlines that they are trying to achieve. They might be planning for product launch or gearing up for a trade show, where they would want their new site ready. It’s imperative to find out the motives behind their schedules and be clear upfront about the possibilities and realities of sticking to a deadline based on your abilities.
By being realistic with your clients about time and money, everyone can start on the same page. Agreeing to something that’s not possible and then later changing stances is not good for your firm’s reputation. Offer alternative solutions to your clients, if it’s possible. Forming a good working relationship is important to get word of mouth and referral business. You are not here for one off projects.
#3 Target Group
Do your clients have a clear idea about their target audience? A website design brief for a young adults website is very different from a one that is targeted at corporate decision-makers. Asking your client as to who they want to attract with their website in the design brief stage will help you set things straight from the beginning.
If your clients aren’t sure themselves about who they are targeting with their site, help them figure it out by asking them who would be their ideal customer. If they have done some market research beforehand, they would have some sort of idea about the ideal customer persona.
Ask them to describe their ideal customer personas, there can be multiple versions of it as well. Then, it’s your job as a designer to figure out how you can appeal to more than one type of demographic.
#4 Scope of the Project
Not every project requires an in-depth research and rediscovering things. Some clients require a custom solution, built from scratch. Others might be okay with a few adaptations to an existing template or design that they have.
With certain projects, the project scope is quite clear from the goals described in the project brief; if your client’s looking to just sell products through their website, then they are looking for an ecommerce solution. But if it’s not as simple as that, you’ll need to figure it out by asking them. Let them fill out a website design brief template and maybe start your conversation from there. Engage in a conversation to figure out if they require things like blog integration or social networking features as well.
#5 Material Availability
Is your client already established with a logo, brochure, product photos, and other materials that would required by you while designing the website?
When you look at their existing promotional materials, you will get an idea about their preferences and aesthetic sensibilities. If they are looking to change it, then you can ask which parts of the previous design they liked and which parts they didn’t to understand your client better and get their priorities straight.
If your client is starting out and doesn’t have a logo, product photos, and other material set up, then you can either offer to design them, or refer them to someone else who will be able to do that for them, if required.
#6 The Don’ts
If your client is not sure about what she wants, then ask them if there are anything that they definitely do not want. Most clients would have strong opinions about things that they do not want on their websites. Some clients totally hate certain features. I’ve seen clients who’ve said a strict no to ecommerce sites, three-column layouts, slideshows and a myriad of different things, and everyone had their own reasons. By understanding what your client doesn’t want, you’ll be able to develop an idea about them and can save yourself from wasting time and money, designing features your clients will definitely reject.
Guide vs Questionnaire
Now you will have an idea about the most important parameters your client’s design brief should include. How will you collect these information from your clients? Are you going to give them a formal questionnaire, or are you going to give your clients a guiding document that informs them about how to put together a brief.
There are both pros and cons to either of those approaches. A formal questionnaire or a website brief template might be straightforward and useful to clients who are working with designers for the first time. A good questionnaire will get your clients thinking, as to what they actually need out of the project and get them to the root of their requirements and what they want out of their new website.
However, an informal document would simply guide them to make a website design brief that includes all the important parameters. This will be sufficient for clients who have prior experience working with professional designers, this will just streamline information flow for them. Letting your clients speak their hearts out would reveal things that they might not reveal in a website design brief template.
That brings us to the third option, an interview with your clients in an informal way. Discussing the things that you and your clients are concerned about, leads to a good design brief. You can have a website brief template to guide you. Make sure you take notes for future references.
The biggest advantage of doing an interview is that you will be able to ask many questions and obtain any clarification if required. You will also be able to gauge their general enthusiasm about certain parts of the project or certain thought processes.
A good website design brief serves as the ultimate guiding force for a website design project. Think of it more like a business plan for a very specific project. The brief should cover every possible detail pertinent to the project, that it should act a guiding beacon and steer you in the right path throughout the project timeline.
Try to make notes on your briefs as soon as you start with the project. Use the website design brief effectively, throughout the entire design process as this will lead to much better end results for everyone involved.
I hope this article was useful for you to learn about creating the perfect website design brief for your next design project. If you have any doubts with regards to this, let us know through the comments and we will be glad to help you out. If you have any suggestions regarding how we can improve the article, let us know them through the comments as well for us to improve.