If you’re reading this post, it’s likely that you’ve been asked to produce a brief for a new website or a redesign of your old one. Writing the perfect website brief is a necessary step towards building a great website. And it’s your opportunity to tell the web designers exactly what you want from your new site.
If you’ve never written a website brief before, don’t stress! The requirements and features included in the brief aren’t set in stone. Instead, think of the website brief as being an important starting point. It should clearly communicate your key goals and expectations to the agency designing your website.
As a web design and digital agency ourselves, we often ask clients to submit a website brief when starting a project. This blog post serves as a helpful guide for what to consider and include when writing a brief.
Website Brief for Redesign.
If you are writing a brief for a completely new website, you can skip this section!
The work needed for a website redesign may differ depending on the purpose of the redesign and which areas of the website need to be altered. So you need to let your agency know your reasons behind planning a website redesign.
Here are some important questions to ask yourself when writing the brief…
- Why do you want to redesign your website?
- What do you like and dislike about your current website?
- How long ago was your website built and by who?
- Who is responsible for updating your website and managing its content?
- What key features are missing from your website?
- How do you use (and plan to use) your website to generate sales and/or enquiries?
If you already have analytics software integrated with your website, it would also be helpful to share access with your agency and / or let them know the following information…
- How much traffic your website is receiving
- What percentage of your audience are visiting from mobile devices
- What locations your audience are based in
- The top browsers people are using to access your website and platforms (Mac/PC/Android/iOS)
For more ways to think about your website’s visitors, we recommend checking out our blog post: 5 Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Website’s Visitors.
Have a read of section below if you’re looking for other suggestions on what to include in your brief.
Website Brief for New Website.
The perfect website brief will address the following…
Who is your audience?
Talk about your ideal client as well as your existing customers here. These are the people you want your website to be geared towards.
What is your business all about?
Provide information about your company history, your workforce and the locations you operate in and / or serve. It’s also essential that you include a summary of the products and services you offer.
You should also communicate your company’s values, your current goals (often called a mission statement), and your vision for the future. Here’s some example of other companies’ mission and vision statements to get you started.
Not a writer? Struggling for time? No worries! By working with a copywriter, they can translate these above points into engaging and web-friendly copy for you.
What are your goals?
Think about two or three key goals you want to achieve with your website. Here are some common examples of what websites can do for you:
- Increase awareness of your company
- Reach more people through organic (unpaid) and paid listings
- Improve your company’s online presence and make a good impression with a modern, mobile-responsive design
- Educate your customers and leads through e-learning resources and blog posts
- Generate more enquiries and sales
- Provide a bespoke platform or services for clients
Having a dedicated Project Manager liaising between you and the web design team can ensure that your new site is attuned to both your goals and target audience.
The look and feel of your website.
Think of your website as an online extension of your business. How do you want to represent your company? What experience do you want to provide for your customers?
Include examples of your competitors’ websites, as well as other websites you like the look and features of. Try to pinpoint exactly what you like about them. This can be their layout, colour scheme, the media (images, video, audio etc.) they’ve used and where. You can also reference any unique features or tools you think can be recreated for your website.
For more information about website colour schemes, check out our blog post: Choosing A Colour Scheme For Your Website And Brand.
If you’d like to go into more detail, we recommend including examples of UI (User Interface) in your brief. Online resources like Calltoidea and UI Movement provide great inspiration for digital assets, such as sign-up forms and testimonial blocks.
Investing in a custom-designed website gives you the flexibility and freedom to really make your business stand out. A professional designer can bring your vision to life.
What are your website’s most important features?
The technical aspects of a website can be daunting to those who don’t have a technical background. If this is the case for you, feel assured that you don’t have to go into much detail here. Your agency’s developers will handle the majority of your website’s functionality.
All you need to write about here is what you want your website to do. Common examples of website functionality can include placement of audio and video clips, membership login and other types of forms, location maps and database integration.
What happens after your website goes live?
If your website’s design involves multiple people within your organisation, let your agency know who is responsible for what area(s) of the business. This makes getting in contact with the right person so much easier!
It’s also important to consider what happens after your website goes live. All professional websites need maintenance to keep them secure and functioning optimally. You may also wish to add and update the content on your website on a regular basis.
The best web design agencies can offer and provide continued support even after your site goes live.
Set a budget and deadline.
Transparency is key here.
Not all website design projects need or have a strict deadline. Letting your agency know your ideal timescale and budget limitations will help them to plan and manage their resources.
As well as the design and development of your website, remember to include ongoing support and maintenance within your budget considerations. You will also need to think about your digital marketing budget for the next 6 months.
Thinking about the future of your website.
So you’ve made a decision on how your website will look and its main functions. What next?
A good website brief will look towards the future of your website and the value it provides to your business.
Digital marketing is vital for driving visitors to your website and seeing a return on your investment. Activities like SEO (search engine optimisation), PPC (pay-per-click), Social Media and Email marketing are often recommended to support your website. Traditional marketing, such as print advertising or word-of-mouth, will also feed into this.
It’s also important to track and monitor your website traffic. Decide in advance what your objectives are, what data to collect and how this will show whether your goals have been met.
You will need to decide whether you want to do these activities in-house or have an agency manage them for you. Budget constraints may mean that the former is necessary. But an agency has the expertise and resources to provide greater returns over the long-term.