Has your company decided it’s time to update or create a new website? If you don’t have in-house designers, you’ll need to hire a website designer/developer or hire a website design agency to help you through the process.
Before hiring a designer or developer, you’ll need to create a website design brief. What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of such a document? No problem, we’re here to help you create an effective website brief to help you and your site designer work together on updating an existing site or creating an entirely new site.
What is a Website Design Brief?
While this may sound complicated, you could think of a website design brief is a document used to gather together all the creative elements, ideas and requirements needed for your site. This brief is used to guide the design process and should be as detailed as possible.
Any website designer or developer worth their salt will request a design brief. The document will give them information about your company, your goals for the website, specific design elements you’d prefer and more.
In fact, you can create the website design brief once and use it for each time you interview website designers or developers. In between interviews, you may need to tweak certain points here and there. That’s OK. Just make sure the main outline and information is set down to help designers understand what you need and want for your site.
Elements to Include in a Website Design Brief
A well-constructed design brief will not only convey the company’s needs and wants for the site, it will also work as the plan during the design and build process. You, your staff and the web designer/developer will all be able to refer to this document at any time. So, it’s important to have as much detail as possible in the creative brief. Here’s what you’ll need in your site design brief:
1). Details about the business: help the designer understand your industry, what your company does, and how your brand is portrayed. Information may include (yes, this sounds like an interview, which it is):
- What does the company do?
- What are the company’s products and services?
- How long have you been in business?
- Describe the company’s vison and where it will go in the next 3-5 years.
- How is your company perceived in the marketplace?
- Who is the target audience/who is the ideal customer for your company?
- Share information on customers’ motivations and inspirations
- What could turn them off?
- What are they looking for—information/product?
- Share information on customers’ motivations and inspirations
- List top 3-5 industry competitors
- What details do you like about their sites? Would you like to incorporate these into your site?
- What do you dislike about their websites?
2). Current site information: a good website designer or developer will want to know about your current site:
- What’s wrong with the current site’s design?
- What do you think works well on the site?
- How much traffic do you get?
- What features or functions do you need?
- Will you keep the same sections? If not, will you create new sections? How many?
3). Goals for the updated or new website: what are the goals for your updated or new website? Consider these:
- Raise brand awareness—get your company more recognition
- Make the site more modern and include mobile responsive design
- Increase traffic and sales
- Generate leads and enquiries
- Provide specialized services for clients
4). Site users: your designer will need to have a good understanding of who your site users are, because the design elements and functionality will need to cater to your target audience:
- Who will be using the website: public, staff, etc.?
- What is the average age of your target audience?
- Where do your users reside—what country?
- What localization features will be necessary?
- What is the target language of your users?
- Why are they visiting your site?
- Research & information
- Buying products and/or services
5). Your site’s design: write a description of how your site should look, the impression you’d like to create for site users, create a list brand and style guidelines (including logos, colors, and other branding elements such as stylized buttons, etc.), and list the values your design should communicate:
- Masculine or feminine
- Professional or personal
- Serious or friendly
- Strong or soft
- Exclusive or inclusive
- Traditional or contemporary
6). Site’s technical requirements and features: here, you’ll want to create a list of the technical and feature requirements for the website. Try to include as much detail as possible:
- User profiles & site logins: what data will be required to create a user profile? Do users have to sign in? How will the registrations be handled and authorized? How will logins be managed? Will the users need a dashboard?
- Ecommerce site: list products and their categories. What payment or checkout methods will be used? Will you need to include shipping calculations, shipment tracking, etc.?
- Will the site need to integrate external APIs?
- Create a list of areas that will be needed on the site:
- Social media feeds
- Online bookings
- Payment and checkout integration
7). Budget & timeline: being honest and open about your budget may not be easy, but it’s best to have this out in the beginning. During the interview phase, designers will be able to tell you right away if they can work within your budget and get the work done in the time allocated to the project. It’s also a good idea to discuss other issues such as:
- How will the site be managed? Will you be able to do this in-house, or will you need the website designer to help with updating and maintenance?
- Will the site remain with the current hosting service (if you already have a site), or will you need a new hosting company?
- Will the site require a new domain name/URL?
This is an outline of what to include in your website design brief. This document will become the plan you both work from and consult with on a regular basis. The more detailed the information, the better it will be for you and your web designer or developer. This can be a time-consuming process, but well worth the effort in the long run when it comes to building the site your company needs.
Liam is a website designer and digital marketer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He spent a decade working within the charity sector before moving into the marketing space a number of years ago. Liam always strives to do something slightly different with every project and always designs to deliver results, not just pretty websites.