How To Write The Best Web Design Brief

Posted 20.01.2022

By Steven Titchener

Creating a website is no small feat from either the clients point of view or the developers. There is a lot of thought, time and skill that go into doing this.

Yet a web design brief is often something that is thought about last and doesn’t really include much information. This is an integral part of the process and gets taken from the project management team to the design team to the development team to the content team and so on. So it needs to be spot on and really communicate the project thoroughly.

Like a set of brand guidelines there is a lot you can add into a web design brief, but here are the main sections you should think about to help you get the most from your web team.

Step 1: Company

The first section is where you want to write about the business. Put down everything from what it is you do to how you were started and even what your long term future is for the business.

A great formula to follow for this is:

What – What you do

How – How you do that thing

Why – Why you do it

Future – What you plan to do in the future

This is a great section because it allows the web development team to understand more about the business so they can offer relevant recommendations that might be useful.

Step 2: Values

You now want to write down at least three of the values your business strives towards. These can be single words or short phrases, but should embody what your brand is all about and how you want to be seen by clients.

This is an important section because it will help the web design team start to think about where you are positioned and what designs can help show those values to potential customers.

Step 3: Brand voice

This section sounds similar to your brand values, but has a different way of looking at your business and is more relevant to the content on your website.

A great way to look at this section is to add some sliders to your document with these headings:

Mass appeal → Elite

Playful → Serious

Rebel → Conventional

Friend → Authority

Young→ Mature

By doing this you can start to tell the web content team how you want to sound so that they can make sure the content is matching up to that and the rest of your brand’s communications. After all, consistency is key in building a good brand.

Step 4: Audience

Now we want to get into the nitty gritty of who your target audience is. As much as the website is to help grow your business, the actual design and content is really for your target audience.

This makes this section one of the most important parts of information to supply to your web development team as they can make sure everything from the design to the user experience matches up with what your target audience is looking for and expects.

When thinking about this section, give as much detail as possible. Go into the demographics and ideally the psychographics of your audience to really give the team a good understanding of who this audience is.

Step 5: Project overview (Goals)

Next up is the project overview. There are really two parts to this section:

  • The project overview is writing down what you are looking for from this project. Is it a whole new website redesign from the ground up, or just a new page?
  • The goals of this project, so what are you looking for this project to achieve. Is it to increase direct sales or maybe grow your brand presence.

Whatever the point of this project and its goals, be sure to get them down so the web team will know what it is they are aiming for.

Step 6: Detail

Now you want to get into the details of the project. If it’s a new website for example:

  • What pages do you need?
  • What is the purpose of the new website?
  • What is the ideal deadline for this?

You want to put as much information in this section as possible so that you don’t end up with a website that doesn’t do what you wanted it to, this is the time to request everything you want.

Step 7: Functionality

Once you’ve got the details of this project you can add this section all about functionality. Some people tend to only look at the unique functions they want that aren’t obvious, some like to put everything down. I tend to say write everything you can think of down, the more you communicate to the web development team, the better the outcome will be.

For this you can put everything down from wanting a blog, wanting to filter that blog by category, landing pages, downloadable assets, login features, eCommerce… basically everything.

Step 8: Budget

An important step in the web design brief is to put down your budget for this project. Knowing this isn’t so that the team can charge you as much as possible, it’s all about managing expectations for the project.

If you have a small budget but are asking for every feature possible and complex 3D web animations, there is going to have to be a conversation with what is achievable within the budget and allowing you to work with the team to get the best setup within budget.

Step 9: Inspiration

Finally, inspiration. This is important for the design team to get a feel for what you like and don’t like.

In this section you want to add any websites or other assets that you like the look of and explain what it is that you like. It could be something small like a button or larger like the general look and feel of the whole website.

Then you also want to add the things you don’t like, maybe you don’t like certain colours or rounded edges, let the designers know so they can make sure what they present is what you are looking for.

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