If you are looking to gain some advice for writing a website design brief, then you’ve come to the right place. We understand that selling your vision verbally for a new website is one thing, but communicating that vision, writing it down and translating it into actionable steps in enough detail is another.
We want to help you start off on the right foot with your chosen agency, build a solid foundation and achieve something great together, so let’s start with the brief.
Things to consider before you start
Invest the time
A website design brief doesn’t need to be pages and pages, as long as you have the essential information included. Hopefully you have some idea of what you’re after from your project, providing as much detail as you can will help an agency understand the end goal, and make suggestions of new ways to achieve this. It will help the agency understand your website vision, quote accurately, and avoid miscommunication and costly changes further down the road.
Conducting some of your own research on your current website is very useful. If you have the opportunity, getting feedback from staff and most importantly your users about your current website can be a great insight to finding out areas that doesn’t particularly work – both internally and externally.
Your project brief is your business plan
A good brief can help an agency bring your vision to life, however, the brief needs to be completely accurate for it to work effectively. Briefs can typically go wrong because they start off focusing in the wrong place.
If you’re starting with “we need a…”, you need to change your thinking to “our customers need a…”. Remember, customers first, personal preference later.
Why do you need a new website? Why are you changing your logo? Everything you do needs to have a reason to why you have decided you need this change. Giving purpose to your project will help remove the unnecessary elements and add more value.
What you’ll need to cover…
Project background and description
Remember: An agency won’t always know who you are. The background needs to summarise the organisation (your mission statement, values, what you do, your stakeholders, your unique selling points etc).
You will need to describe your current marketing efforts and the most popular path your customers use to find you. Understanding how your business is currently working and marketing itself provides valuable insight as to what is working, what isn’t and potentially what needs to change.
Include the biggest obstacles the website currently faces, these can either be avoided or new solutions found to improve these pain-points and better your customer experience.
Understanding your target audience is essential to a strong converting website. A classic buyer persona will describe your ideal clients and help the agency design a site that is focused towards their needs and interests.
You’ll need to state why they are your ideal audience and how your services benefit each of them.
If you’re a trendy female fashion brand, you might concentrate your targeting towards young women between 18-28 who are socially active, compare to a plumbing merchant who is more likely to target a male dominated industry. These two websites would look quite different just based on who they’re trying to appeal to.
Be clear about your objectives
What are the goals of the new site?
What do you want your customers to think and do when they visit your website?
While increased sales or traffic may seem to be the obvious marketing goals, you’ll find that they’re actually meaningless if you don’t look back to your objectives to achieve the right results.
You will need to be clear about how you are expecting customers to interact with your new website, what should they engage in, and what actions should they take;
- Are you looking to generate quality leads?
- Are you wanting users to find certain information?
If so, what do you want them to do with this information?
- Would you like to improve customer efficiency and satisfaction?
- Would you like to improve the customer service support?
Your current website
Key Performance Indicators (KPI) is data that organisations track in order to measure progress towards a defined goal and helps keep the business on the right track. If the business isn’t on the right track, the data shows where attention needs to be focused for improvement.
These KPI’s provides an insight for the agency to help them understand the current position and help set milestones and benchmarks to track the right progress.
Tracking data provides clear understanding of what results you want the new website to achieve (increased sales or enquiries). Also consider popular pages and visitor drop off pages to see what currently works for the clients and what doesn’t. You don’t want to change too much on pages that actually bring traffic.
There are some easy ways to identify your competitors and how they affect your business.
- Make a list of your competitors in your local area.
- Make a list of competitors who rank higher than you on search engines.
- Next to each of these competitors, state their marketing activities, what their Unique Selling Points are; The good and the bad.
- If there are any elements on their websites that you like the look of, make sure it is put down.
You need to understand what makes you better or worse than your competition, and what you aspire to be and what you’d like to avoid. Having these competitors will provide inspiration for an agency to create a unique website that is suited to your visions and goals.
Timescale & budget
A website design brief requires an accurate amount when outlining your budget, but if you do have more money on hand, an estimation can be provided. Simply specifying a price range is the best way to summarise this, i.e. £2,500 – £4,000, or £12,000 – £25,000.
If you’re looking for a one-time website redesign
With a lower budget, the agency will focus on the core services to get your website up and running effectively. If you do have a higher budget, then the agency can spend more time on user experience design and thorough development details that may need more time to build. Once launched, your contract with the agency will end.
If you’re looking for an ongoing project
An ongoing project includes the website redesign process, but a retainer is agreed by agency and organisation for on-going digital services and maintenance to help with digital assets and update the website where necessary.
How long will it take?
Keep in mind there is never a solid answer to “how long will it take?”, as many website design processes reach complications along the journey from both the agency and the client, but good agencies will always work towards the launch date.
The timescale you request will definitely impact the quality of your website. When you send over your design brief, a good agency will put together a timescale of each task and respond with one that won’t rush the work, providing a sufficient amount of time for designing, building and testing.
Additional features & requirements
This is where you can request information from the agencies and a list of actions you feel would be beneficial to your project.
True customer relationship management platforms are powerful and have many abilities, and developers are creating many tools that solve business needs in new ways. These integrations are dependent on the website objectives and how employees can use the website.
- Do you want website linked via CRM or automated email marketing platform?
- If there are client login areas, what data is needed?
- What types of user interaction will there need to be, such as comment sections, forms or gated downloads?
- Will you be using an agency for maintenance and hosting?
- Will you need eCommerce functionality?
With the increase of video calling and webinars, during the current climate, you will need to consider how your website will host these new forms of communication. Will you need video integrations, such as live webinar streams to the website, or third-party integrations from media players?
Increasing visibility in search engines and generating a sense of engagement is extremely important to a successful website. What does your marketing strategy look like? Do you have the right tools linked to the website? How and what are you tracking?
When you’re writing your website design brief, there is one thing to remember: Don’t feel like you’re waffling. The more information you can share about your project, the better!