How To Write A Flawless Web Design Brief

2020-11-26by Andi Croft

Thinking about having someone create a website for you?

That’s a big project to tackle, right? Even if you have some experience being involved in web design projects, every new one is a totally different challenge.

But no worries. If you take it step-by-step and don’t rush into it, you should be fine. There’s nothing super technical at this point (we’re going to leave it to developers).

Writing a web design brief is one of these steps. A really, really important one. It starts with you and serves as a roadmap for the whole project.

Helping you to write it properly is the main point of this post. It’s a big deal, so let’s tackle it step-by-step.

Web Design Brief: What You Need to Know

In copywriting, they say that the actual writing is only 20 percent of work. What’s the rest? Research. The same golden rule applies to web design briefs.

The brief is the guide to the future website, so it needs to be based on your research of the users, your business, and the market. It has:

  • information about future users and their needs
  • Vision of future design and how it will help your customers.

Nothing too technical, right?

Yet, it’s incredibly important for project success. A well-researched, clearly-written, and useful brief is as important as the money you spend.

Plus, getting the top web design agencies to work on your project is easy with such a brief.

So, now, let’s talk about how to write it.

How to Write a Flawless Web Design Brief

There’s no universal formula for writing a perfect web design brief, but I’m going to teach you the essential parts. They should be just enough for developers, plus you can build on them in the future if needed.

Here are the sections that we’re going to cover:

  1. Overview of Your Business
  2. Goal of the Web Design
  3. Target Audience of the Design
  4. Functions
  5. Localization
  6. Requirements (Design Do’s and Don’ts)
  7. Links to Websites You Love
  8. Budget and Timeline.

Now, let’s talk about each in more detail.

Section 1. Overview of Your Business

The web design agency needs to know why you’re doing this project. A good way to explain everything to them is to start with a short story about your company and its current needs. Your goal is to help them get familiar with it and understand your motivations.

When writing this part, try to answer these questions:

  • What is the mission of your business?
  • What are the reasons why you need this website?
  • How will the website help to stand out from the competition?

Also, include the materials of links to web resources where one can get more detailed information about your business.

Section 2. Goal of the Web Design

“My company needs a new website because we want to increase our sales.”

A very straightforward explanation, but also an almost totally useless one. Every company wants more sales, so you need to be more detailed.

For example:

“Our company needs a brand new website to stand out in a crowded niche (home furnishings). We’ve received numerous complaints about our current website - slow speed, crashes, 404 errors, complex navigation are among the main issues - so we want to make a complete overhaul.

The new website should also have a bunch of new sections, including customer testimonials, blog, case studies, and an interactive furniture preview tool (probably based on augmented reality technology.”

This version is much more specific and describes the current website struggles. It would be easier for a team of developers to understand that you need a complete rework to have a responsive design and excellent eCommerce SEO optimization.

Section 3. Target Audience of the Design

The purpose of the website isn’t just to look pretty and load quickly. Web design is a problem solving tool, so the design agency needs to know who’s the intended user and their motivations to visit the website.

So, describe your target audience and the issues you’re helping them to solve. For example, for a car dealership website, this section could be:

Our website will be used by people interested in buying new and used vehicles. Not only should they be able to find the entire range of options based on their search filters, but also read some articles on choosing cars.”

This concise yet informative description gives an idea of the UX you’re looking for as well as some features (a search and a blog section)

Section 4. Functions

You already gave the design agency a good idea of what you want. Now, it’s time to list the features of the web design that help the website to achieve its goals.

The most popular functions include:

  • A newsletter capture forms
  • Live chat or chatbots
  • Online payment platform
  • A sophisticated search.

Section 5. Localization

Do you want the site to be in English or some other languages? More languages mean more work for developers, so list all languages you’d like the website to have.

Section 6. Requirements (Design Do’s and Don’ts)

In this section, list the best practices and other tips for developers to design a great website. Here are some examples that people use:

  • Do make an easy to use search feature with many filters
  • Do create a focal point to lead the visitors to, e.g., a landing page with a free trial
  • Don’t use any colors besides the ones in the brand color palette
  • Don’t make complex navigation, e.g., differentiate navigation headers with colors
  • Don’t use more than three fonts (Arial, Roboto, and Verdana).

Basically, list your requirements for the web design, even in your own words. They’ll help the design agency to make something you love.

Speaking of things you love...

Section 7. Links to Websites You Love

Are there any websites that you think were created extremely well (almost to the point you wished they were yours)?

If your answer is yes, then this is where you can share them with the developers. Just put the links to them and shortly describe why you love them. 

For example:

“www.website.com - I like the search feature here. The user can filter the results by region, price, year, and numerous other vehicle characteristics. The navigation is also super simple: just four menu sections, I think we should have something similar. “

Note that the example uses a simple language. That’s because writing a brief isn’t exactly like writing a paper for college. You can totally use your own words, but try to keep the sentences short to avoid confusions.

Section 8. Budget and Timeline

Let the web design agency know your budget for the project.

Also, indicate how soon you’d like the project to be done. A typical timeframe for a custom website is between two and four weeks. But it could take up a few months if the website has a complex design and features.

A tip for you: be ready to negotiate both the price and timeframe. If you need a complex website, it might take a bit more time than you had previously estimated. Naturally, the cost might also rise.

Now You’re Ready

Okay, whew, all done! Just like that, step by step, you learned how to write a flawless web design brief.

Treat it as a roadmap for the entire project, and don’t hesitate to make updates. If done right, it’ll be a critical tool for the success of every web design project you do.

Over to you now, time to write and find an agency to create that beautiful website!

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Andi Croft

Andi Croft

Andi Croft is a freelance writer whose main interests are topics related to business, technology, and travel. This is brought about by her passion for going around the world, meeting people from all walks of life, and bringing along with her the latest tech to enhance her adventures.

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