How to: Write a Website Brief

11th October 2011


Usually when you meet with a developer for the first time they will know very little about you or your business. That’s why it’s essential to make sure you set out who you are, what you do and what you want to achieve. It’s also important to make sure your goals are clear, after all how can you measure the success of a project with no aims?

Why write a website brief?

In the initial stages, you may be talking to a number of different designers, in which case the benefit is obvious. You can send them all your brief and see what solutions, ideas and prices come back. You’ll find it quite difficult to get an accurate quote without an accurate brief. Otherwise it’s a bit like going to a builder and asking how much simply ‘a house’ will cost you.

If you’ve already chosen a designer though, you could and probably will end up covering many of the points in your brief whilst in conversation, but even then there is still a value in having everything written down. That way there can be no ambiguity. If you’ve said your new company colours are blue and white and your web designer comes back with something which is luminous pink, you’ve got proof that’s not what you asked for or expected. Equally, if you decide to make changes to the original scope, the designer can keep tabs too. Writing out your brief will also help you clarify things in your own mind, and it will be something to come back to as the project progresses.

Setting out your website brief

Introduction

The first thing you should include is a short overview of your company or organisation. Who are you? What do you do? Importantly, who are your clients and the people you work with? The kind of audience you will be targeting as a baker will be quite different to that of an accountancy firm, and the tone of your website will need to be tailored accordingly.

Current Website

If you already have a website, try to include answers to these questions:

  • when was it built?
  • who administrates it?
  • what is good about it?
  • what is bad about it?
  • what do you wish it could do for you?
  • do you already have tools to monitor traffic?
  • where is it hosted?

New Website

When it comes to talk about your new website, every project will be different, but a good starting point would be to consider:

General

  • why are you getting it designed? (you’d be surprised how many people don’t know the answer to this question!)
  • what are the main aims ie. to increase traffic, tie in with a re-brand etc

Design

  • do you already have any design work, logos or photos?
  • what colours and styles are you looking to incorporate?
  • do you have a font you always use?
  • roughly how many pages will the site launch with?

Functionality

  • do you want to include an online store or take online payments?
  • do you want to be able to blog?
  • are you going to integrate with a newsletter system?

Maintenance

  • do you want to be able to administrate the new website yourself?
  • how often will you need to update it?

Marketing

  • should the site tie in with a wider marketing campaign?
  • do you want Twitter/Facebook streams and share functionality?

Comment...

What our customers say:

I would highly recommend Hut Six Digital for your website implementation. Jo has been fantastic to work with and has exceptional knowledge in her field. She is friendly, reliable and professional, which has resulted in our fantastic new website launch. Her training was clear and concise, and I know she will be on the end of the phone or email should I need her for a little refresh. She has enabled us to take full control of our new website, which was something other companies have been unable to offer. Excellent value for money too!

Christina Canning (SMS Alarms Ltd, Thatcham)

Jo has been personable and efficient in setting up my website. She did a great job of understanding what I wanted and providing guidance from her wealth of experience. She has explained things in a non-technical way and has been very responsive, patient and flexible in working with me. In short, Jo is great value for money and easy to work with.

Vanessa Rhone (Venus Works, Oxford)

Excellent, efficient service from Jo. Highly recommend.

Xan Rice (Journalist, Oxford)

I am not exactly a technophobe but due to previous experiences of pressing buttons that I have no business pressing I have shied away from doing thing to update or improve my site. I have called on Jo Cox’s expertise several times and she is always quick, efficient and gets you back on track whilst also calming you down. I can honestly say that there is no one else I would call on in an emergency to sort out problems with my website. I have never had a bad experience with Jo’s services or with Jo as the service provider.

Lisa Bentley (Writer, Liverpool)

Jo has been amazing. Through 1-2-1 training sessions she has helped me to make significant improvements to my website functionality. This has not only been cost effective but it also has empowered me to use the skills that I have gained to edit my website myself in the future. She has simplified what I thought would be tricky tasks. I will definitely continue to work with her in the future and I couldn’t recommend her highly enough.

Felicity Wood (Yoga Instructor, Bicester)

Jo took my simple brief outline of what I wanted and turned it into everything I wanted and more. Jo was very professional, efficient and she was patient and understanding with the fact that I was not knowledgeable about building websites or what’s involved. By the end of it Jo had given me and my team a training session around how to manage the website. I would highly recommend her!

Sharon Mulholland (Sandcastle Mortgages, Kidlington)

Jo was completely fantastic! I’d been struggling to make a WordPress blog design work and was completely stumped. I made an enquiry to Jo about some help, and she replied within 24 hours. It was easy to agree on a price for the things that needed to be done, and she had fixed everything within 48 hours of the original enquiry. I had thought my problem was too small for someone to help with it, but I was pleasantly surprised that Jo was happy to sort out the small issues with my site for an extremely reasonable fee. Throughout the process, Jo was efficient, effective and stayed in regular communication. She answered all of my questions, even the really idiotic ones, and nothing was too much trouble. The entire experience was great and I would recommend her in a heartbeat to anyone who needs help with a website project – big or small. She is, in short, superb at what she does.

Imogen Goold (Blogger, Oxfordshire)

I wish I had found Jo earlier. We wanted to progress from making simple text edits to getting more out of the CMS. After a very enjoyable training session, we can now design new pages and keep the website organised. Excellent.

Margaret Hildreth (JP Hildreth Ltd, High Wycombe)