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 you’ve never been through the web development process before, 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, as clearly communicated as you can.
Being clear about what you want not only helps to provide guidance and direction to the designer during the quoting process, but 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
Ask yourself, how do you plan to advertise and promote your business?
If you don’t know, your designer won’t know either, and then they’ll have to take a stab in the dark in finding the right website solution for you - risky and potentially costly!
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 (and that’s hopefully why you’ve asked them to give you a quote in the first place!)
Through your marketing strategy, (which forms part of your business plan), 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?
If your designer knows this information, they will also know why you need a website, and can therefore help you as a result.
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.
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. Having an understanding of your business helps the designer to bring to light your key messages, values, mission and vision for your business.
Writing your website brief
Provide a background about your business.
It doesn’t have to be long (and you don’t need to send through your entire business plan or marketing strategy), but your business background should cover the following things:
What does your business do/provide?
How long has it been running? Is it a new business?
Who works in it?
Who is your target audience?
Does your business have a physical presence (e.g. shop, office etc.)
Where do you see your business in 3-5 years time? If you’re planning to grow your business, your designer should factor in sustainable web design and scale-ability as your business grows. For example, you may not be ready to sell products through an online store just yet, but you could be ready in the future. Building websites with sustainability in mind allows your website to grow and change as your business grows, without expensive re-builds.
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. Also, let the designer know what you think is working/not working in your current website - some elements from the old could possibly be transferred to the new.
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 is suitable for your new website. You may need to upgrade hosts or change altogether depending on the solution your designer proposes.
Are you using social media to market your business? If so, tell your designer which platforms you use (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.) and describe how they are currently working for you.
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 - let them know:
What message you want to send to your audience. This should reflect your vision/mission statement in your business plan.
What type of content you want to feature on your website (e.g. images, articles, videos, podcasts etc.). Also let the designer know if you will be sourcing/writing your own content, or if the designer will need to source/write it. Tip! A good designer will usually work with you to shape your content for the online space.
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, tagline, personality, era etc.). Tip! If you already have a logo and/or style guide - send this to your designer. If you don’t have your branding sorted or if your branding is outdated, you may need to work with your designer (or another designer) to develop a new identity (this can and usually does cost extra).
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, appointment booking system, 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. If you have a Pintrest account, you can even create your mood board there and send your designer the link.
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). Tip! It’s valuable for you to know who your competitors are and how they market themselves, as it helps to establish a benchmark for where your product or service sits in the marketplace, plus it helps you establish your point of difference.
Advise your designer how much you time and money you have to spend.
What is your budget? Advising a designer of your budget is 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. Note. Not all quotes include domain name registration and web hosting - be sure to clarify this with your designer if it is not included in your quote.
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!)
As you can see, 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. Getting your brief right also helps to establish a great working relationship with your designer, which in turn will lead to better communication, mutual respect and good value.
Thinking about a new website for your business? Why not show off your new website brief skills and let us know how we can help?