This article will help you write a website design brief for a new website or a redesign of an old website. Included is a sample PDF and tips for writing a website design brief to communicate what you would like to receive back from a web design company.
What is a Website Design Brief?
The website design brief defines the project, enables the project plan development, and keeps the project focused on the key elements and primary goals. It will help you avoid time-wasting energy, chaos, confusion, and expensive rework.
What Should Be Included in a Website Design Brief?
Providing a web design company with a website brief with the tips that are mentioned here, your web designer will have the needed information to create a website that you can easily navigate and update, and that speaks to your customers the way they want to be communicated with.
1. Provide Your Contact Information
Make it easy for your web designer to contact you. Include the following in the website design brief:
- Your name
- Business name
- E-mail address
- Physical address or mailing address
- Current website (if any)
- Mission statement (if applicable)
TIP: Providing a mission statement helps the web designer set the right tone for your internet presence.
2. Summarize Your Business
Tell your web designer about your business in the website brief. Explain what sets you apart from your competitors (your unique selling proposition), and what is special about your products or services. Think as if yours is the most expensive source available and how you justify the price to the customer.
This should include the following:
- About Us
- Customer Testimonials
Take a look at the article How to Create an About Us Page for Your Business Website for tips and ideas to create an about us page. Likewise, the article How to Create a Services Page for Your Business Website will help you with creating a services page. Also, tell your web designer what customers are saying about you. Who are your top customers and how have you help them?
3. Describe the Ideal Customer Profile to Reach Your Target Audience
Do you have an ideal customer profile? Make a customer persona for the website design brief and describe ages and characteristics, as well as buyer trends. What is most important to the customer? Buying is as much or more an emotional experience as anything, and this will help you connect with customers on a deeper level other than just providing for a need.
For example, buying a new car because your old one is costing you more in repairs and maintenance is a need. Let’s face it; you can get there in a used compact car as you can in an expensive full-size vehicle. But when you feel the leather seats that heat up for cold-weather driving, or your range of vision is much wider and larger and you feel safer, or the horsepower is advantageous when you have to have quick acceleration, or the ride is more comfortable on longer trips, you can see how selling to the senses is more advantageous than selling only to the needs of the customers, and your web designer can use this information to make the website visitor’s experience more enjoyable.
Before approaching a web designer, ask as many of your customers as you are able about what they would like to see and use on your new website. Maybe there is something they want but are not getting. When people think of your business, what seven to ten keywords or phrases do you want them to think of? What keywords should you associate with each page of your site?
4. Explain Your Website Objectives
Explain to the web designer, when you write the website brief, your objectives, and what you want the site to achieve. What do you want the visitor to do when they get to the site? Will any specific requirements be needed?
Ideas can include:
- Subscribe to our newsletter
- Subscribe to our blog/RSS feed
- Follow us on social media
- Browse our catalog of products
- Find information about our services
- Generate sales through the shopping cart
- Use a CTA for promotions to collect customer information
- Grow our brand by promoting with social media, referrals, and organic search engine traffic, etc.
5. Detail How the Website Should Function
Describe what features could improve or automate processes, such as gathering data and placing it into a database from a website form.
Your web designer can then suggest newer and better ways to structure your website to allow customers to do more business with you, easier, faster, and simpler than websites that don’t include these new technological advances.
The website could contain special features including:
- Responsive website that displays your site on all the latest devices without compromising the display parameters.
- Home page slider (slideshow) that displays images that correspond to the text on the slide.
- Carousel slider for products in demand or discounted for faster sale.
- Promotional advertisement banners highlighting trends and seasonal occasions, and also discounts and specials.
- Blog with comments and an RSS feed that users can gain more useful knowledge and refer to you as the source of information they can use.
- Call-to-action forms that help customers purchase items, or to request more information before they leave the page to segment buyers into classifications for more precise sales opportunities.
- Sales funnel to gather more data from customers and provide additional opportunities to sell more products and services.
- Newsletter subscription form providing you opportunities to expand your customer and prospect databases.
- Contact form to find out what customers want and keep in touch with their wants and needs.
You may also want to discuss inbound marketing features to attempt to gather more information or opportunities to sell more items on specific pages, such as forms that pop up when a visitor attempts to leave the page.
6. Create a Website Sitemap
List the way you want the main menu to appear in the website design brief (which may include topics, products, and services), and how to find what is most important, such as:
- About Us
- Our Team
- Name of Service 1
- Name of Service 2
- Name of Service 3
- Name of Service 4
- Contact Us
A logical progression is especially useful for organizing a site and enhancing the user experience. It helps the ideas flow from one logical conclusion to the next channeling the sales process to the desired action.
It is helpful to also include other menu items that might appear on the website in the top bar menu (in the header) and in the footer.
7. Provide Competitor Websites
Find the top listed sites of competitors in your area or in other regions to see what they are doing well. Borrow successful ideas from them that you might like to use on your site. State what you like and why so that your web designer can produce a similar (or superior) feature for your website.
Find website examples you like the design of. Copy the URLs or paste screenshots for your web designer to refer to.
Offer your web designer some competing businesses to review in the website brief and include what makes yours superior. State design features, images, type styles, colors, and why you like the sites. Describe as well as possible the look and feel of the site using descriptive words.
8. List Additional Requirements
You may have preferences for third-party companies or services such as:
- Domain Registrar
- SSL provider (there are many security licenses at varying prices)
- E-mail Marketing Company (such as AWeber, Constant Contact, or MailChimp)
If you need more information you may want to ask for guidance about these and other recommendations from your web designer.
9. Explain the Level of Control over Your Site’s Content That You Want
If you plan to update your site, you will want to determine what Content Management System (CMS) to use that allows you to make changes to the content (text, graphics, images, video, SEO, etc), as well as provide the ability to create pages and to fix errors (such as broken links and making other improvements).
You will want to update or add content to your site as your target market changes. Having a user-friendly Content Management System like WordPress enables you to make changes more easily.
You should also decide if you choose a platform that you have little experience using, that the web design firm you hire offers training. Likewise, you may want to invest in hiring a company that offers WordPress Maintenance Plans, so that your website stays updated.
10. State Your Budget and Priorities
The features and functions you want may be more expensive than you thought. If you have a limit, tell the web designer and see what he or she can provide for you or may suggest. If your budget is lower than the web designer can work with, you may need to plan for a later launch of your new site until you are ready to invest a little more to get the best value and quality.
11. Give a Deadline
Working with a deadline will help your web designer and others involved in the website to focus on milestones leading up to the website launch, as well as helping the web designer to offer suggestions to reach your expectations. If your deadline is not realistic, a good web designer can offer a timeline to ensure he or she is allowed the necessary time needed to troubleshoot the website and make any changes along the way.
Download Sample Website Design Brief Template
Here is the sample website design brief template that we give to our clients to fill out. You can use it for free.
You must download it to your device or computer to save changes to the document.
Final Thoughts: How to Write a Website Design Brief
Having a website brief prepared when contacting a web design company will help the project manager understand your objectives. It should also allow the web design company to give you a more accurate cost estimate and timeline.
The article WordPress vs Website Builders: What’s the Difference has helpful information for choosing the right platform to build a new website.