The 9 Step Guide to Writing the Perfect Website Design Brief

Here at Webjuicy we love clients who give great design briefs! Having a killer brief makes the process of creating the perfect website quicker and smoother and often helps the customer in other areas of their business. By clearly articulating what your business does and how it wants to be portrayed, your website design or upgrade will flow more smoothly and give you a much better result in terms of satisfaction, time and cost.

We’ve written up the following steps as a guide for our customers to help them get the show on the road and hope it can be useful as a roadmap for you too. Here’s how!

Step One – Tell us a bit about your company
For any designer, an understanding of your business is key. We’ll discuss this with you during the process, but it’s a great starter to put on paper an outline of what you do.
Start with:
A couple of paragraphs about your company. About as much detail as you would provide to an interested stranger in an elevator in 45 seconds. This should include:
  • What it is that you do. Put it in a nutshell!
  • Why your special and different. Also known as your USP (unique selling proposition)
  • Who your competitors are and what you like (or don’t!) about their websites.
  • The size of your company in turnover and employees, unless it’s sensitive. An annual report is always handy!
  • The geographical footprint of the business. Are you operating overseas? If so … where so?!
  • How long have you been going and where are you headed in the future.
  • And finally, give us 3 to 5 words that communicate the essence of the company. For example, at Webjuicy, we are fresh, diligent, enthusiastic, delightful and inspired. What about you?
Step Two – Ye Olde website
If you are upgrading an existing website, it’s a bit like taking your car in for a major service. You give the mechanic the keys to the car and a list of its issues, right?
In the case of websites, the keys are all the hosting details, usernames and passwords, URL and, hopefully, access to the person who knows about its construction and maintenance.
Then we need the issues, but include the good with the bad!
We’d love to know what you like about it … what you don’t … how old it is and who built it. If you have traffic data, we definitely need that … include traffic volumes and where they’re visiting from (home or abroad?), what platforms they’re using (desktop or mobile) and any numbers you have around click throughs or sales leads.
At the end of the day, you’re upgrading so it’s probably more like trading in an old car. But don’t be afraid to tell us why it’s a lemon!
Step Three – The New Website
This is definitely more fun than Step Two! It’s time to spec your build so we can pimp your ride and in Step Three we’ll want to know what the website needs to do to make you happy.
  • Start with the purpose of the website. It may be that you’re moving up into e-commerce or perhaps your just looking to increase product awareness. Whatever it is, make it clear!
  • Then tell us about your audience? We like to get our clients to create avatars for their main customer groups. Usually 3-5 will do. An avatar is a made up character that represents a key demographic within your customer base. For example, one of our avatars is Terry. He’s 50, is OK on a computer but mainly uses his phone, lives in Willoughby and runs a business that sells pie warmers (i.e. niche equipment). If nothing else, it’s a bit of fun, but it also helps us keep your customer in mind when making design decisions.
  • What should it look like? This is where you spec the colours and the vibe of your finished website. Some customers like to use a “mood board” on Pinterest to collect looks, colours and images that give us a feel for their brand. This includes any websites that you admire and be sure to tell us why!
  • What marketing assets do you already have? This includes any physical brochures or other advertising or marketing efforts on different channels. You should also package up your digital assets … company logo, photos, videos and any other useful content in the highest resolution you have. We’ll optimise to decrease load times, but just remember … more is better!
  • And finally, for e-commerce websites, we need to know your bank or existing payment systems so we can select the best payment gateway.
Step Four – The Gap
Having nailed down what it wants to look like and what we have … the next thing to focus on is the marketing gap. What do we need to finish the job? And usually this is fresh content.
Freshness is best when it comes to web-anything, so try to resist the temptation to use existing content. Be it text, audio or video, the webcrawlers have got their paw-prints all over your existing stuff so let’s identify what we need!
Once we know the existing gap, we can start to develop a marketing plan going forward to keep new content hitting your website as required.
Step Five – The Budget
Think of your new website as a little seedling to be planted in a quiet corner of the garden. Your budget is the food and water that your seedling will need to grow into the mighty oak you’re after. So, whilst we know that revealing a realistic budget can be a bit of a dance, put your best foot forward and think about what can be spent now, what can be committed for ongoing content and marketing for the next 6-12 months and what you envisage as necessary for support and maintenance. A full and frank discussion up front will make you more comfortable with what you’re getting and more confident about where we’re going.
Step Six – The Nerdy Stuff!
You might not know it, but you’re probably nerdy enough to list down the technical requirements of your website and, where you’re not we can compensate in spades! But to get you in the mood, answer the following questions:
  1. Do you own your domain name?
  2. Will you need hosting services?
  3. Do any of your targetted groups have special needs?
  4. What sort of server will be hosting you? (i.e. Windows or Linux)
  5. Is this site intranet, extranet or internet?
Step Seven – The Marketing Plan
This can often get overlooked when people think about their website brief, but a well laid plan is essential.
To build visibility and engagement you will need to consider how you can bring users to your new site and, going forward, what the program is to replenish it with fresh content. This will involve a combination of the following:
DIGITAL
  • Social media campaigns that push traffic at your new offering.
  • Content Marketing via blogs, video content or newsletters’
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Display Network ads which are the paid listings you see in search engines.
  • Banner Ads on other websites and affiliate marketing
  • EDM (electronic direct mail)

TRADITIONAL
Consider also what traditional marketing can add to the watering-can. This can include:

  • Direct mail, brochures and flyers
  • Outdoor advertising, radio & TV
  • Public Relations, events and guerilla marketing.
Step Eight – A Bit of Maintenance
The last part of your brief should be the bit that looks forward at the nuts and bolts of your website and who will be holding the spanners. Specifically, do you have the skills in house to maintain and updateyour new website? Is there a succession plan in case those skills leave or get hit by a bus? Or would you like to outsource the maintenance?
Step Nine – Your Timeline
A brief is really an invitation to tender and, like any good invitation, requires a timeline within the RSVP. So make it clear as to when you would like a response and when you would like to go live. Include in here anything relevant to time at your end, such as when key people are home or away. As with all things … making your needs and expectations clear is super helpful for anyone who provides a service. This list is not exhaustive, but it provides a good base for our customers and we hope that, by sharing, it gives you something to work with too! If you would like to squeeze a little bit more out of us, email Webjuicy at bj@webjuicy.com

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