How to Write Your Own Goal-Smashing Website Brief (with Template!)
A website project is much like a road trip. You can’t just hop in your car and hope that it reads your mind and takes you to where you need to go. Not even Teslas have that kind of mind-reading capability (not yet, anyway).
No, for now, you’ll still need to grab a map – physical or digital – and do some planning beforehand. This vital prep work is essential for a pleasant and stress-free journey. Likewise, creating a website design brief is a crucial preliminary step on your journey to a new, engaging, and strategically sound website.
Download our FREE website brief template.
It will guide you through the whole web design brief writing process.
What is a Website Brief?
A website brief is a document created by anyone who needs a new or updated website. A good brief will detail the strategic outcomes, day-to-day necessities, and design requirements needed from their new site. It can then be sent to web design agencies in order to request a quote.
Why Write a Website Brief?
You Get Total Control Over Your Project
Creating a detailed website brief gives you full control over the project from the word “go”. When you state all of your aesthetic, technical, and strategic aims from the start, there’s less room for miscommunication and misinterpretation. All in all, a clear web design brief vastly increases your chances of ending up with a site that suits you down to the ground.
In addition, because your website design brief also puts your price and timescale expectations in black and white, it can help rule out agencies who can’t deliver within the requested timescale, or can’t adhere to your budget.
It Makes Proposals Smoother and Fairer
Having all of this information available to design agencies from the off makes the whole proposal process smoother, easier, and fairer. The agencies don’t have to grill you for the answers they need, and all candidates in the running have the exact same information to work from, levelling the playing field.
It’s a Valuable “Getting to Know You” Exercise
Even after you’ve chosen your designer, having a good brief is still valuable. In order to design a site that fits your brand to a tee, they will need a deep understanding of your company, your vision, your brand style, and your way of doing things.
Web design briefs are such an essential resource that the team here at Squibble won’t start a project without one – they’re just that fundamental.
Who Should Write Your Website Brief?
In our experience, web design briefs are typically written by a marketing manager or other in-house marketing professional who has a clear understanding of the new website’s purpose and the company’s messaging.
However, anyone within your organisation who has a stake in the future success and operability of your site can create or collaborate on your web design brief.
What Does a Website Brief Need to Include?
So let’s get down to business. Just what do you need to include in your website brief?
In order to design a website that seamlessly matches the client’s brand, voice, and way of doing things, the design agency will need a complete, fundamental understanding of your business.
This goes far deeper than basics like company name, what you do, and what audience you serve. As designers, we will need to know what, how, and why people buy from your business; who you serve; the brand’s core values; the brand’s market positioning; as well as a potted history of the business as a whole.
Your Existing Brand
We also need to fundamentally understand how your brand works visually in order to appropriately implement it across your new site. This is where brand documentation like brand identity guidelines come in handy.
Even when web designers don’t provide copy for your new website, they may still benefit from taking a look at your tone of voice documentation if you have any. Understanding how your brand expresses itself linguistically can help us create consistent visuals.
Your Targets and Reasons for Change
Why do you need a new website? What do you need to change about your current website (or lack thereof), how, and why? And what goals do you want that new site to achieve?
This is your cue to discuss the firm targets you would like the website to achieve (e.g., “We would like to achieve a 10% increase in revenue generated through the website by September 2023.”) as well as your softer aims and drivers of change (e.g., “Our current site is struggling to keep up with the demands of the modern web and needs new functionality to keep pace with the industry.”)
So think – what change do you need? Why do you need to make that change? What do you want to achieve with that change?
Before we start designing, we need to know who we are designing for.When we have a solid understanding of your target audience and their purchasing intentions, we can then visually communicate with those groups most effectively. Fully grasping the audience’s motivations and drive helps us create assets that increase click-throughs, downloads, and/or conversions.
The aim of most websites is to grab your audience’s attention wherever they spend their time online, pique their interest, get them to visit the site, and send them on their way towards a sale. We therefore need to understand your ideal website user’s online behaviour too – how do they end up on your site? What do they do (or want to do) when they’re there? And what does your average buyer journey look like?
As designers, we need to understand your competition just as exhaustively as we understand your audience.
Start with a simple list of your competitors and analyse their online presence. What sort of audience does each competitor attract – or at least seem to? How does their website design and functionality play into that? What are your competitors’ promotional strengths and weaknesses, especially relating to their websites?
Taking a broader view, how competitive or saturated is your market – is it every business for itself or is there more than enough work to go around? Do your competitors put any extra strain on your business?
Other Websites You Like
You might also find it useful to include a list of other websites that you like. This can launch valuable discussions about layout, user experience design, functionality, and colour, shape, and aesthetic preferences.
Already brimming with ideas? Grab our free, editable website brief template to get them down and keep them safe!
Your Technical Requirements
This is arguably the most important section of your website brief: what is it that you want your site to… y’know… do? Do you want to upload blog posts to the site in-house? Will you need e-commerce functions that allow you to list products and take payments? Will your website serve as home to a web app or SaaS tool? Will your site need to play nice with any webhooks or APIs?
We also need to establish how you plan to measure your website’s success. What KPIs and analytical metrics will your site need to measure? What SEO aims do you have for your site and how do you intend to keep an eye on that? Do you know where and how your site will be hosted?
Even if the designer you choose doesn’t get involved with SEO, hosting, and website security, they’ll still need to know your plans so they can design to accommodate.
Your Timescale & Budget
Now it’s time to get down to brass tacks. What do you expect to spend on your new website and when do you need it done by? However, you can elaborate much more than a simple price and date.
If you need your site relaunch to coincide with an industry expo or to tie in with a new service launch, it would be helpful to communicate that to your designer.
Rather than simply stating a flat price for your budget, try to give a price range that you would be comfortable with. This way, we can allow for a little contingency in the unlikely event that something doesn’t go to plan.
Your timescale and budget goals need to be realistic and achievable but primarily they need to fit in with your strategy and cash flow above anything else.
Your Contact Details
This is really the home stretch now – the final, super-easy bit. Who will your developer need to liaise with in order to complete the project? This might be in-house marketing personnel or external consultants and creatives. Include their contact details here (preferably with their permission!) so we can reach out to them if needed.
And Hit “Save” – You’re Done!
Want a Head Start? Download Our Free Website Brief Template
Why start from scratch in a blank doc when we’ve got one started for you? Simply fill in the form below and we’ll send you our free, editable website brief template, packed with further tips and writing prompts.
Now you can get on with the fun job of discovering a web design agency who can deliver… oh wait, you’ve already found one! If you like what you see, send your completed website brief to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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