How to Write a Solid Website Design Brief
Writing a website design brief is crucial to getting the website you really want. Firstly, including a brief with your initial enquiries to web designers is a surefire way of putting the final quotes on a level playing field. If all designers have the same information to hand, it will give you a better understanding of what you can get for your budget. Perhaps more importantly, a design brief is the perfect reference document for the design process. It gives you and your designer a set of initial guidelines to refer back to as the design progresses and evolves.
Creating a new design brief can be a little daunting at first, especially if you haven’t written one before. I’ve made some suggestions below that will help your designer to create a bespoke quote. Don’t be afraid of adding anything if you feel it’s important – my recommendations are just a guide. All businesses are different, which is why bespoke websites are so important!
Make sure to include an overview of your business in your web design brief to give your designer a better understanding of it.
- Are you just starting out or an established business?
- What services/products are you offering?
- Where are you targeting your services? Do you supply to local, national or international markets?
- Who are your main competitors?
- What do you think makes you different to your competitors?
- Who is your ideal customer? From an enquiry, what would make you say: “yes, we are perfect for this!”
The Website Itself
Having some idea of what you need on your website makes the design process much quicker.
- Why do you need this new website?
- Which parts of your current website do you like or dislike?
- Give examples of other websites that you like or dislike. This can include your competitors’ websites. Include links or screenshots in the brief.
Structure and content
- Other than your home page, what additional pages will you need?
- How would you like your users to navigate the site? How will you lead them to the information they are searching for? Are there specific calls to action (eg contact buttons, telephone numbers) that you’d like to include?
- How do you want your users to be able to contact you? Simple contact details? A contact form?
- Do you have written content ready to include on the site? Do you have external or downloadable documents? This can affect the time taken to launch the site. Include some example content in the brief if you already have it.
- Do you have the necessary images? If not, what kind of images would you like? Some businesses may hire a photographer. Others use stock images, which cost from £7 per image. Some web designers (like me) offer photography as an additional service.
- Do you need a search function?
- Will you be selling products on the site?
- Do you have identity branding? This includes the logo, fonts and colours that you’ll be using across your marketing materials: website, social media, business cards, shop frontages etc. If you don’t already have this, talk to your web designer about it – like me, they may be able to create this for you, or recommend someone who can.
- How do you want your brand to be perceived in the market? This impacts all the textual and visual content on the website.
- Do you have a tagline for your business? It’s a good idea to have one at the top of your website, to let your audience know immediately what you are about and how you can help them.
- If you don’t have a tagline, can you sum up your business in one simple, short, enticing sentence?
- Which social media will you be targeting? If you’re not sure yet, it may be worth seeing what your competitors use.
- Do you need a section with helpful articles (a blog) for your customers?
- Who within your business will be updating the content on the website? Will they need training to use the WordPress content management system? I give one-to-one training on managing the content on my WordPress sites.
Domain name (for new businesses)
- Do you already own your preferred domain name?
- If you are a UK business, do you own both the .com and .co.uk domain names?
- If you don’t yet own your preferred domain names, have you checked to see if they are available, and not too similar to your competitors’ domain names?
Penny has written a more detailed post on how to choose a domain name to be proud of.
Make sure your designer knows exactly when you’d like to start and finish the design process.
- When would you like to start working together to create your website?
- Do you have a date in mind for your website launch?
Remember: your web design brief is not just an excellent way to compare quotes from different designers. Once you have chosen your ideal designer, the brief creates a foundation for you both to refer to when creating your ideal website.