How to write a website brief

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How To Write A Website Brief

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You’re already busy looking for a web design agency and now you’ve been advised to write a website brief. Whilst this may sound daunting, writing a website brief and finding the right agency isn’t difficult!

If you know what a website brief is and don’t need any more information at this point, skip down to “how do I create a website brief?” Otherwise, let’s start from the humble beginning:

A website brief is simply a proposal document, intended for a web design agency, to help them understand what you’re looking for in a new website.  It outlines key things about your website such as your target audience, problems with the old website and what you’d want your new website to achieve.

Just to be clear, this isn’t a document telling your website designer precisely how your new website should look (you don’t want to be doing all the hard work if you’re going to pay a web designer to do this for you!).  However, you should include a few examples of websites you like the look and feel of to give the web design agency an idea of what you envisage your website looking like.

Why is it important?

When you send out your website brief, the web design agency will then come back to you with how they can help meet your needs, the solutions they can provide and the time they can do this in.  This helps you decide whether the agency is right for you and is extremely crucial to ensuring the success of your new website – and ultimately the sales leads you acquire!

How long does my website brief need to be?

The length is up to you and if it’s only a small project, this could be sent over as an email. However, we recommend providing as much relevant information as you can, as the web design agency’s response will be based on what they receive from you. If you can, try not to condense your website brief into a few lines shared over Gmail.  Instead, create it in the form of an invitation to tender (ITT), which could span 2-100 pages!

What is an invitation to tender?

This is a way of letting agencies know that you’ll be going through a competitive tendering process. It makes them aware that you’ll be gaining responses from various agencies during a specified timeframe. The best proposal you receive is the agency you’re most likely to hire.

What software do I need to create a website brief?

You don’t need to go big and bold with technical software or flashy PowerPoint slides. If you prefer, and most people do, use Microsoft Word. Remember, this is intended to be a formal document so don’t focus too much on attention grabbing writing. There’s also no need to spend days on perfecting your website brief as a few hours is all you need. You’re going to know a lot about your business – more than anyone else – which will make your brief even easier to write!

How do I create website brief?

As promised, we’re going to show you how to create a website brief for a website design agency. We’ve split this into structured sections which allows your brief to flow better, and in a logical manner. You can simply copy the below into a Word document and begin filling out the questions. Nothing here is compulsory or required – just give as much information as you can. Then, remove our commentary and send it out to web design agencies!

Introduction

Start off by listing the basics in the website brief, so that a web design agency can get to know your company and understand your business needs.

  • A bit about you, your background and how you founded the company
  • Who is your target audience? (Age, location, status etc.)
  • Where are you based and which regions does your business cover?
  • What products do you sell or what services do you offer?
  • Which product or service is performing the best?
  • Number of employees, partners or associates
  • The vision you have for your business and where you feel you’re currently at
  • Share some short term and long term goals you have for your business

Your old/ current website

If a web design agency can understand the faults of the old/current website, they can avoid wasting their time and yours by suggesting something you’re already doing that’s not working well.

  • What is the URL and when was this site built? By which developer?
  • State some successes you had with the website
  • What is the website not providing you with and what are you not happy about?
  • What has your experience been like with your last agency/ developer?
  • Share the traffic levels the site is receiving and the conversion rate
  • Which country/ region are your visitors coming from?
  • Which device are most of your users coming from?
  • Which browsers are most of your users coming from?
  • Who updates the site and how often?
  • Who is your go to for technical help when problems occur with the site?

Creating a new website

Moving forward, you want the web design agency to start thinking about incorporating features that you like, and need, into your new website design.  In the website brief you can consider the following:

  • What do you want the new website to achieve?
  • Are there any must haves your website should have? (RSS feeds, social integration, Google map etc.)
  • Do you want to target the same target audience that you currently are?
  • Are you launching any new products?
  • Are you looking for a complete re-brand?
  • Which USPs would you like to mention on the website?
  • List some competitor websites that you like or feel are performing well
  • Does your business have any preconceived notions or negative stigma that you’re hoping to change?
  • Do you have a PR team or a social media team who could help promote the website?
  • Do you have a digital marketing team that the agency should liaise with?
  • What qualities would you like a web design agency to have?
  • How involved do you want to be in the process and how often?

Budget

In the website brief, this is quite important.  You may be new to this, and not know how much it will cost for a website re-design.  Don’t worry, just outline your budget and be honest. Agencies will come back to you with a quote and if your budget isn’t quite realistic, they’ll suggest a more accurate figure. 

  • State your budget – is this for the next 6 months, a year etc.?
  • When do you need the site to go live by?

Do I need to specify a budget?

This is up to you.  Many people think that if they don’t specify a budget they may get a lower quote, but this isn’t always the case.  You could equally get more expensive quotes which you can’t afford. In this case, you may need to amend your website brief and re-send it, which can draw out the process in your search of finding a great web design agency.

By specifying a budget, you may not get a lower quote but you will get realistic solutions that fit within your costs. This can potentially save time in the long run.

Is there anything more I should include in my website brief?

You could add anything you think is relevant for the web design agency to know. Try not to be too protective over your information but at the same time, if you don’t feel comfortable sharing any of the above, there’s no need to. We only advise adding in as much information as you can so that the agency have all they need to make sensible and feasible solutions to help your business grow.

Remember, if agencies have additional questions, they will ask you so you don’t worry too much about missing anything out. Just give agencies a contact point where they can reach you, should they want to know more.

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