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How to Write a Design Brief to Keep Your Web Design Projects On Track

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How to Write a Design Brief to Keep Your Web Design Projects On Track


A brief is an essential part of any web design project. The definition of the brief, however, can differ a lot among both clients and designers, complicating everything greatly. Some clients think that simply specifying their basic needs can count as a brief already. Some designers think otherwise, yet still, fail to come up with a brief that is detailed enough to finish the project successfully.


The importance of briefs for both designers and clients

Why are the briefs so important in the first place? Because they have many perks both for clients and for designers.

Here’s why the briefs matter:

– they are basically a written guidelines both client and designer can refer to during their cooperation;

– they give designers all the information they need to fulfill the client’s needs (assuming -that the brief is created properly);

– they outline the approximate time and the budget, allowing to keep the project on track;

– they give the designers an understanding of client’s tastes, helping them to come up with best solutions right from the start;

– they involve the clients in the process more, making it sure that all the details will be understood properly.

However, while the brief is equally important both for a designer and a client, its creation lies on designer’s shoulders only. This happens because designers are usually more experienced in this field and also know exactly what details are needed to develop the right idea.

Of course, this doesn’t make the process any easier for designers. Not all of them know exactly what should a brief contain (especially if they aren’t experienced in the field yet). Some might now the most important details but still miss out the details.

There are two ways to act in this case: either learn by your own experience or by the experience of the others. That’s why today we want to list all the things a proper brief should contain.


Information about the company

Ask the client to list all important details regarding the company:

– its name, the industry a company works in, its product lines, and so on;

– the description of the brand, including its mission, message, and values;

– its main contributors and stakeholders;

– it’s competitors (both direct and indirect).

Why is it important? Because it allows you to find out who will be responsible for the project approval and who you’re going to cooperate with. Moreover, this gives you all the primary information about your client that is crucial for the design process.

Description of the target audience

Most businesses know their target audience well enough already. In this case, everything will be easy: they’ll be able to give you all the necessary details quickly.

However, some of the business don’t know their audience well enough. In this case, you can give them two options: either you do your research and describe their target audience on your own or they manage to provide you with a picture of their average client.

Knowledge of a target audience can play a huge role in the whole web design process as it dictates the customers’ behavior and allows you to come up with the solutions that are the most suitable for certain clients.


Goals and requirements

Once you gather all the information about a company or a brand, it’s time to move on to a project discussion. Make sure to ask all the questions that matter. Most of them can be easily divided into two sections – questions about client’s goals and questions about project’s requirements.

When discussing goals, be sure to specify the exact problems your client wants to solve. Do they ask you for help because they want to draw more traffic to a website? Or they need a rebranding? Do they need a website designed from scratch or do they need a redesign? Knowing this will help you evaluate the time you might need to complete a project.

When discussing requirements, ask the client to specify everything they can specify, from the services they want to get to colors they might want to use. Here’s what you can ask a client to give you:

– preferred file formats, color palettes, and resolutions;

– images that have to be included or image stocks that can be used (if a client has a preference) or some additional graphic materials like templates that are necessary to include;

– some materials that can be used as additional guidelines: brand-books, mood boards, mockups, etc.

While some of these things aren’t crucial to the project, they still can play a huge role in it, making it easier for you to come up with drafts and solutions that would look appealing to this specific client.


Terms and budget

Of course, not all designers are able to estimate these things correctly on their own (especially if they work in an agency where other people are responsible for that). However, knowing this is crucial for any upcoming project.

For example, the estimated budget allows you to know what resources you might use during the whole design process. It helps you plan the project so it would definitely fit the client’s expenses as not all of clients can afford to pay extra money for things they don’t fit the initial budget.

Estimated terms, on the other hand, help you plan the whole process right, assuring that you won’t miss the deadline. Of course, some projects are bigger than the others and some require more budget than the others. That’s why it’s also better to ask a client to specify these details in a brief to make sure that you won’t face an unrealistic project.

Be sure to ask the client to be as specific as possible. For example, ask them in advance are they willing to pay some extra money if necessary? Are they willing to pay for edits if those are made later? Do they have only one deadline or do they want to establish some milestones and discuss the design in the process?

Sure, even the most detailed brief won’t guarantee that your project will be approved right from the first draft. Most likely some changes will be made even if you are a great designer. However, the more detailed the brief is, the easier it will be for you to please the client.

Remember that knowing how to write a good brief for a design project is just as important as knowing how to write a good thesis for your essay. Which parts of a brief do you find crucial and which you think can be excluded? Please share your thoughts and opinion in the comment section below.



Lori Wade is a freelance content writer who is interested in a wide range of spheres from education and online marketing to entrepreneurship. She is also an aspiring tutor striving to bring education to another level like we all do. If you are interested in writing, you can find her on Twitter or Google+ or find her on other social media. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!

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