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?

NB: Because this post is more than two years old, and the world of web design and technology moves on so quickly, the information in it may now be out of date


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Jo dealt calmly with a very complex and difficult brief, to my great satisfaction, and a subsequent rise in sales.

Paul Carrera (Carrera Graphics)