*This is a contributed article by Leslie Anglesey.
Writing magnetic and effective design briefs is the difference between a successful project and one that stays in the construction phase way past schedule.
Your brief needs to clearly and precisely provide the designer with the information they need to do their job.
In this article we’ll go over a process you can follow to write a great design brief. It takes practice of course, like everything else. But, once you get the hang of it your jobs becomes that much more efficient.
Step #1: Company Profile Synopsis
Just break it down so that the design can get a feel for your platform, business, company, services etc. What does your company do exactly? How long have you been in business, what your overall staff size and other basics go a long ways.
After that it’s time for writing about your niche, or market. Describe not only how you fit into your industry right now, but how you would like to after the project. And, how this project is meant to help your company reach that goal.
Step #2: Writing About Concrete Objectives
A design brief is no place for generalities. To equip your designer for success, outfit them with specific information regarding your aims. What EXACTLY is it that you desire?
- Is the sole purpose of the web property to generate sales?
- Is there a lead-capture aspect to the design?
- Are you really just out to build a huge email list of newsletter subscribers?
- Is the point of your platform to extract consumer/market/product information from a particular audience?
Each one of those things tell the designer something different. What if you want a bit of all 4? Oftentimes in the process of writing a good design brief, information like this can come to light and end up saving you tons of capital.
Step #3: Lavish them with Customer/Audience Data
We’re in an age of responsive web design and inbound-style marketing. The more your designer knows about your dear clients and target audience, the better the end-product. If you’re looking for a compelling sales funnel, then tell the designer everything you know about the people who are supposed to enter and convert.
- Age is a pretty big deal, so if you aren’t sure which age bracket you’re best suited for, find this out before attempting to tackle web design.
- Sex and income also play a role. You would be surprised how many SMEs leave this stuff out. They just try to sell to everyone.
- What do your customers do for a living?
- Why do they need your service/solution?
- What are the primary benefits from your customer’s perspective?
- Along with simple keyword, and keyword sequences, provide overall focus-concepts and platform defining features.
Step #4: The Social Media Component
Social Media Marketing is to web-business what plastic is to the food packaging industry. Indispensable! The designer should have access to social media platforms and be given some idea of how you would like it presented.
Simple and out of the way, but available? Or, up front, above the fold and obvious? Are you actively going to be growing your social media networks and sharing content with them? If so, make sure the designer knows this from the get-go.
Step #5: Budgeting and Deadlines
Even if there’s only a ballpark estimate on the table, quality designer briefs need to give some indication. At the end of the day high-end designers know gauge what they can do on the budget, right? Period!
If they’re reputable with a solid portfolio, or you approached them from a referral, then be upfront and tell them what you need and what you’re working with.
Deadlines, like your budget should be in BIG BOLD LETTERS. Especially if the deadline is a really important one. Is it? Because if not then make sure the designer knows this as well. How long is too long? What are your realistic expectations?
Step #6: Provide Examples
If you haven’t done any kind of comparative market analysis, this can be rather tiresome. But, in order to be successful you must pay your dues. Your goal: to find at least 3-5 websites that you absolutely love.
Show these to the designer and then let them know what you like about these websites and why. Don’t just send them some examples and say, “I want my website to look kind of like this one.”
- If you really like a website, take a closer look at its color scheme. How big of a role do those colors play? You should have some idea of what colors your after.
- In terms of images and content, do you like the placement? Is it the formatting nuances? It is the simplicity?
- Look at the text, can you clearly read it? Is it nearly packaged in bite-size bits or is it presented in more of a traditional blog format?
The idea is to find websites you love in terms of design, then be able to clearly communicate this to your designer more from their perspective as an artist. They thrive on detail, not blanked statements.