How to write a good website brief

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If you’re considering a website for your business, it can be a challenge to engage the right designer to help you develop it, especially if it’s your first time through the web development process, or if you aren’t too tech savvy. Getting your brief right is essential to the success of your web project, and it actually has more to do with your business plan and marketing strategy than you think.

What is a website brief?

Think of a website brief as the blueprint for your new website – a comprehensive document containing information, instructions and details about your business, and how the website is to be developed in relation to it.

A good website brief should contain background information about your business and its current situation, as well as all the requirements and outcomes you’re wanting for the development of the website. A good brief helps to provide guidance and direction to the designer during the quoting process, and also extends through to the entire life of the project, helping to mitigate risk, avoid time and cost blowouts, misunderstandings and scope creep.

Why having a marketing strategy is important

Having a marketing strategy in place for your business identifies to a web designer that you have given the promotion and advertising of your business some thought. Through your marketing strategy you can easily convey to the designer what your business is about, where it currently sits in the market, and where it is planning to go in the future.

Why does your designer need to know this?

The more a designer learns about your business and what your goals are, the more they can adapt design, functionality and content to your needs. A good designer should ask lots of questions about your business and take into account your business goals and marketing strategy when pitching a solution to you.

Writing your website brief

Provide a background about your business

Your business background should cover:

  • What your business does
  • How long it has been running
  • Who works in it
  • Who your target audience is
  • Where you see your business in 3-5 years time

Describe your current online situation

  • Do you already have a website? If so, why are you considering a new one? Could it be that your current site just needs a revamp? Always provide the link to your current website and your designer can help to determine whether or not to keep it, or trash it and start again.
  • Do you already have web hosting and/or a domain name? If so, your designer will be able to assess whether or not your current web hosting package is suitable for your new website.
  • Are you using social media to market your business? Provide links to your accounts.
  • Can you be found via a Google search? Do you use analytics, AdWords or any other tools to promote and track your business online?

Describe your dream website and prepare a ‘wish list’

If you had the opportunity to create the website of your dreams, what would it look like? What would it contain? How would it function? What would your audience be able to do when exploring it? Describe this to your designer in detail and include:

  • What message you want to send to your audience.
  • What type of content you want to feature on your website (e.g. images, articles, videos, podcasts etc.)
  • What the website’s structure looks like. You may like to develop a rough diagram of how you want each section of your website to be presented (e.g. blog, team, shop, contact etc.).
  • What branding elements will be used (e.g. fonts, colours, logo, personality etc.)
  • Your ‘wish list’ of functions and features for the website, which could include a contact form, online store, search box, map, user login, blog, gallery, newsletters, links to social media etc.

Provide your designer with things that inspire you

  • Search the web and provide examples to your designer of websites and/or social media that you love and think work well. A mood board and even photography can help to convey your ideas.
  • Do you have competitors? How are they marketing themselves? List up to 5 competitors and provide links to their websites or social media pages (if they have them).

Advise your designer how much you time and money you have to spend

  • What is your budget? Advising a designer of your budget can help to determine which of your ‘wish list’ items will be achievable. If you prefer not to disclose your budget, your designer may offer you a few options that may include all or part of your wish list.
  • How long does your designer have to complete this project? Make clear deadlines, follow up on progress regularly, and also be timely with your feedback to ensure the lines of communication are kept open (your designer should also do the same!)

There is a lot involved in submitting a website brief, but if you take your time and work through the process, not only will your designer love you for it, but they will also be able to quote you appropriately and present solutions that will suit your business needs.

Sarah Bell

Director - Studio Manta

Sarah has over 10 years of experience working in the creative industry with many small business clients as well as agency and corporate.

She has a background in e-learning and qualified training, and has an enormous skill set including web design and development, branding and graphic design, digital marketing, and copywriting.

Sarah's passionate, caring and supportive - especially when it comes to talented people and small businesses - keen to support local communities and help establish collaborative partnerships that help people in small businesses grow.

Sarah is solutions focused - able to execute work efficiently, effectively and on time. A capable, experienced expert.

Qualifications:
- BA (Multimedia)
- Adv Dip IT - Partial (Systems Processes & Improvement)
- Cert IV TAE
- Grad Cert TESOL

Message Sarah
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Sally-Anne Watson Kane
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A very comprehensive article, thank you. Some business owners wouldn’t manage to get all the answers to all those questions down in writing, but I’m guessing that when business owners come to you with a request for a website and not much written down, you go through these prompts and questions with them, verbally.