If you’ve ever done a website project before, then you will probably be well aware of the many things that can go wrong… from both sides! But the way to avoid these issues is with a detailed website design brief.

A well-written website design brief details all the requirements for the project so that the agency/freelancer knows exactly what to expect. This means that there will be fewer chances for scope creep from the client and the agency has clear instructions on what they’re expected to deliver.

Most companies don’t bother with a website brief as they feel that a few calls with the agency should be enough to explain their “vision”. But a detailed brief can also help the client as they really need to know what they want to be able to put it all down in a brief.

This usually helps them rethink about their company’s goals, who they’re trying to attract with the website and exactly what features are required.

We believe that a good website brief is beneficial to everyone involved, so we’ve put together a short guide on what information should be in a good website design brief.

What can go wrong with a website design project?

We thought we’d start by highlighting some of the things that often go wrong during a website design project so you can understand further where the brief can help:

Communication issues: this is always the number one problem that causes problems in any business relationship. There are a number of different possible communication issues, but we will focus on clients not explaining all their requirements properly and missing out key bits of information and agencies not communicating when they hit boundaries, and this causes delays to the project. Both of these issues can be fixed with a detailed brief.

Scope creep: let’s face it, all clients try to sneak in extra bits to get their “value for money” and most agencies are happy to oblige some small things to ensure they have a happy customer. But there needs to be a detailed Scope of Work so that agencies can draw the line when clients start to take advantage.

Additional budget required: no one likes surprise bills and many agencies are known to add extra costs to things because they claimed to have “not known” about certain requirements. If everything is detailed in the brief, there should be no reason for this.

There are obviously plenty of things that can go wrong with any project, but we want to focus on how a good website design brief can solve some of the common issued faced between clients and web design agencies.

What should you put in your web design brief?

A good web design brief should provide a good overview of the client’s business and the project overview. It should identify the key deliverables and requirements as well as the ideal web design process they expect to see. Specifics such as monetary expenses and timelines should also be included.

Project overview

What is the purpose of this website? Who do you want to attract? Why are you choosing to undergo this website project now? The more defined your objective, the easier it will be to create a design that accomplishes that goal.

Who do you want to attract?

The first thing to figure out is who you want to attract and why. What are the demographics of your target audience? What do they like, dislike, and have in common? This will help determine what kind of content you should create for them and what the user journey will be like. If you have a current website, you can obtain accurate data from Google Analytics to understand who your ideal target audience is.

– Do you have any preferences?

Have you seen any websites that you like? They don’t have to be competitor sites, but any sites you admire and would like yours to be done in the same sort of way. Dislikes are also very useful too!

Do you have a set of brand guidelines that you need us to follow? Or particular elements that must be used/not used on the site?

– Who are your competitors?

Knowing your competitors is an important part of the process. You need to be aware of what they are doing and offering, as well as their pricing structure.

If you are in a service-based business, it’s also good to know what your competitors aren’t doing or offering—it may open up opportunities for you in the future.

We definitely don’t recommend using a competitor’s site as a base and trying to copy it, as that’s how you dampen creativity and you won’t be able to embrace your own brand. Use them to analyse a gap in the market and where you should be targeting.

What is your brand voice? How do you want to be perceived?

While you’re working on the content and design of your website, it’s also important to consider how your brand should be represented visually. This includes developing a tone that reflects the personality of your business, as well as how you want to be remembered by customers.

What is the tone of your brand? How do you want to be perceived? What is the personality of your brand? These questions are all part of defining what we call “brand voice.” These questions should have already been answered in your brand guidelines, but if not, it’s important to address them now.

What are the project requirements? 

This section should go into a lot of detail as this is the part that affects the quote significantly.

You will need to consider the following questions about your project:

  • What are the project requirements?
  • What is the technology that you want to use?
  • Will it require any e-commerce functionality or other complicated functions?
  • Will you require any 3rd party integrations?
  • Do you also require website hosting?
  • How much content will the website require?

Who are the decision makers?

It is also important to know who is going to be the main point of contact for your project. This can often be the same person as the decision maker, but not always. The main aim here is to make sure that you have someone who can answer any questions and deal with any issues that arise during your project.

It’s also worth knowing who will be responsible for both managing the budget and setting deadlines. If these are different people, it’s important that they work together closely so there aren’t any differences in approach or expectation between them.

We believe that decision-makers should be introduced to agencies as early on in the process as possible so that they can assess the chemistry and see if they’re a good fit without wasting people’s time.

How much do you want to spend?

Here, you need to be honest with yourself. You won’t get what you don’t ask for, after all. How much do you want to spend? A website is a valuable and worthwhile investment, but it’s not necessarily worth tens of thousands of pounds and months of time to many people.

If your project has specific goals, like an increase in sales or traffic, or if your client needs an online presence for their business that doesn’t exist yet, then these goals will determine how much the site will cost and how long it will take to build.

It’s important to be honest about your budget and also realistic. If you’re serious about your website design project, then you need to set a decent budget aside so that it’s done properly. Also bear in mind costs such as hosting and maintenance, plugins, videography/photography etc., that may be an additional cost.

When do you need the website done by?

You now know what you want from your website, but there are still a few important questions to answer.

First, how long will it take to get the project done? There’s no point in starting if you don’t know when it will be finished. Second, how long will it take for approval? If you have an internal committee that needs to sign off on everything before moving forward with any new ideas or designs (and who doesn’t?), then make sure they have ample time to review and approve your website proposal before going ahead with any design work. Thirdly, when will your new site go live?

And finally: after launch date is set and everything goes smoothly during development and testing phases (which they should), how long until your website actually goes live?

Conclusion

The website brief is the foundation for your web design project. It’s the first step in creating a successful website, so it should be comprehensive and clear. As we saw in this post, there are many things to consider when putting together an effective website brief. But don’t worry—if you follow these tips, you’ll be able to create one that will serve as an invaluable guide for your web design agency throughout the entire project!