Just like any big project, you need a plan.
A website is no different. This article is written to ensure you know how to write a website design brief.
A good web designer should guide you through this planning process as part of any web design project. Be clear in your mind on what you want before heading in to this process and you’re more likely to achieve success.
Putting pen to paper and clarifying your vision for the website is a great process to go through. It will force you to solidify your ideas and get them out of your head. The end result should be a thorough and informative document that crystallises your purpose and objectives. Think of this as your website wish list. This will minimise scope creep further down the track.
This can then be used to elicit proposals for your new website from different web designers and design agencies. The clearer you can say what you want by investing ‘think time’ up front, the more likely you will end up with a website that works for your business.
To put it very bluntly, “crap in, crap out!”
An added benefit to creating a briefing document is that it is a tool to pull a stray project back on track down the line. It keeps the web designer accountable if they don’t deliver or want to increase the budget further down the track.
The brief framework
So what should you provide to your digital agency before starting a new web project? Here are some suggestions that will give the web designer a detailed snapshot of your business.
Overview of who you are
- Provide a paragraph about your company (your elevator pitch). Who you are and what you do.
- What is your industry?
- What is your position within that industry?
- How does your business make money?
- How are you unique?
- Are you operating locally, regionally, nationally or internationally?
- What problem does your product solve in the market place?
- Why do you want a website?
- Will your website be a way of generating leads and enquiries or is this purely for credibility and having a presence?
- Who are the decision makers on this project?
Your target audience
- Who are you trying to target with the new website?
- Describe the profile of your ideal customer (detail their fears and desires).
- What are some of the common traits of this group? (Details such as income, habits and hobbies.)
- What is important to them when they purchase from you?
- What is your target audience’s pain point? (What keeps them awake at night?)
Your current website
- Why are you replacing or rebuilding the old website?
- What do you like about your current website?
- What do you dislike about your current website?
- Do you have access to your current website statistics and can you share these with our team?
- What percentage of traffic is derived from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet?
- How many sales/enquiries does the current website receive?
- Who currently maintains the content on your website?
- Who hosts your website?
Your new site
- What does success look like to you? (More traffic, sales, response rates, leads generated, better reputation?)
- Do you have a site map? (A tree-like structure of how the different pages within your site hang together) – refer over the page.
- What is the estimated number of pages?
- Is there any additional custom functionality which is required on the website? For example, shopping cart, forms, secure member areas etc.
- What is the most important thing for a visitor to do when they arrive at your website? For example, fill out the contact form, pick up the phone or make a purchase?
Other important things
- What is the proposed budget for this project?
- Who will be the key contact throughout this project?
- What is the required launch date?
- Are there any existing suppliers or partners we will need to work with?
- Who will be responsible for writing the content for the website?
- Do you have images and photography which you can provide?
- Do you want to integrate with an email marketing platform such as Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign or Infusionsoft?
- Do you have specific technical requirements around your content management system?
- Are you active on social media? If so, how will this integrate with the website?
- As part of the website development will you install tracking such as Google Analytics and setup conversion tracking
Look and feel
- Describe the desired visual design of your new website.
- Do you have an existing style guide for your brand?
- List three websites you LIKE the look of and detail why.
- List three websites you DISLIKE the look of and why.
A sitemap is a visual tree-like structure used to map out how each of the pages will hang together. It is a good process to map out each of the pages that will make up the site and list the different features of functionality required within the website.
Below is an example of what a sitemap looks like: