10 Steps to Writing an Effective Website Design Brief

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Writing a Website Design Brief

Knowing how to write a website design brief is vital when planning a new website or planning an upgrade to your existing website.

Having a well-written brief helps you consolidate what you need to achieve from your website, but it guides the design agency in knowing exactly what it is you are after.

The more detail you can give at this stage, the easier it is for the web design agency to meet your requirements and give you a more accurate estimate of costs.

Top Tip – when writing your website design brief, think about it in terms of “what your customers want and need” rather than just what you believe the business needs.

Some web design agencies may give you a pre-made template to fill out, which can be helpful, however, these following 10 areas are key for including in any website design brief:

1. What is your business’s background?

Telling the web design agency a bit about your business can provide useful insights into what your company is all about.

Make sure you include:

  • What your business does
  • A brief history of your business
  • Your mission, vision and values
  • Who’s involved in your business
  • Which locations you cover
  • What is unique about your products and services
  • What are your aspirations now and for the future

All this may seem like a lot to include, but it can really help the web design agency get a good feel for your business, which will help guide them in producing the best possible website for your business.

2. Who will visit your website?

Who is your target audience and what do they want to achieve from visiting your website?

Think: new customers, existing customers, suppliers, potential future employees, etc

By providing this information in your website design brief, the web design agency can help target this audience with certain aspects of the website.

3. What are your website goals?

What do you want to get out of your website? (What do your customers need to get out of your website)

Some examples here could be:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Generate new leads
  • Improve lead conversion
  • Increase sales
  • Improve customer service

If you had a previous website you may wish to include what worked well and what didn’t work so well, what parts of the site you wish to keep and which parts you are happy to lose, etc.

The web design agency should be able to offer you some ideas if you are unsure of what your goals should be. If you had a previous website then they may use data from this to see what areas need improving and set goals based on this.

4. Who are your competitors and what other websites do you like?

Do some research on your competitors and see what is working for them, and what isn’t!

Look at their sites in terms of:

  • Design and layout
  • Content
  • Imagery
  • Functionality

Provide the web design agency with a list of some competitors sites you like (with links) and explain what it is you like about them. This will help them get a feel for what preferences you have and what features you would like on your site.

5. How should your website look and feel?

After looking at your competitors’ sites you will have given the web design agency a glimpse of what you like. So follow this up with more specific detail on the look and feel you want to give off with your site. Think of it as the personality of your website.

Include:

  • Colour schemes
  • Style (modern / classic / retro, etc)
  • Imagery (photographs / illustrations)
  • Special features

6. What content do you want to include?

As well as the written text, your content will include any pictures, videos and audio clips that you want to include on your website.

Will you be supplying the content, or will you be needing someone else to do this for you? Either way, the web design agency will need to know, and you will need to start planning for what content you need.

Think about how many web pages you will need, what will be covered in each of those pages, what images and/or videos may you want to go alongside them?

Ensuring you have your content planned will help prevent any delay with getting your website live once the design is complete.

Some web design agencies offer content services, this may be very useful to you if you are unsure what content you need to include on your website.

You will also need to think about how you are going to manage your content.

Are you able to do this yourself, will you any further training on certain software, or will you need on-going support of the web design agency?

Types of content that will need regularly updating;

  • Customer reviews and testimonials
  • Company news and blog
  • Products and services
  • Case studies
  • Image and video galleries
  • Job vacancies
  • Special offers and promotions
  • Team members
  • Events
  • FAQs

Also, your keywords will need reviewing annually to ensure they’re still appropriate to your business and are on-trend.

7. Any special functionality you need?

Think about what functionality your website will need to help your visitors achieve their goals on the website?

When deciding on what these may be, think about;

  1. What your customers will need when they’re visiting your site
  2. What you want your customers to do on your site.

Will they need to;

  • Register for an account?
  • Complete an online form?
  • Sign up for a newsletter?
  • Log in to view restricted content?
  • Download a brochure or catalogue?
  • Purchase a product?
  • Find your store location/opening times?
  • Leave a review?
  • Leave comments on your blog?
  • Share content to social media?
  • Search for products or articles?

8. Who will maintain your website once it’s gone live?

Many web design agencies will offer you an ongoing monthly support package, which will include hosting, support and maintenance. It makes sense to use your web designer to provide these services too, seen as they will have built your site. However, if you already have this covered by someone else then let the web design agency know.

Ongoing hosting, support, and maintenance are vital in ensuring your website runs smoothly, the software is regularly updated, the site is protected from cyberattacks and is backed up daily. You may also want your web design agency to provide you with regular reports to show how well your site is performing.

9. How will you market your website?

Online marketing is a vital aspect of your website.

You don’t want a website that looks amazing, but is getting no visitors!

So think about how you are going to get your site seen and devise a strategy, then share this strategy with the web design agency.

Some web design agencies may offer online marketing services, if so then think about what you would like them to offer. If you are unsure then they should be able to offer you some suggestions that will help get your website seen in a search engine.

Some effective ways to include digital marketing in your online strategy are:

  • Email marketing – regular newsletters to your existing customers (or people who sign up) can drive repeat custom and keep customer engagement high
  • Conversion optimization – ensuring customers are doing what you want them to do on your site
  • Blogging – regular blog articles can help get your website seen for certain keywords included in the content of your blogs
  • Social Media – having business pages on social media can really help raise brand awareness and increase customer interaction.
  • Paid advertising – paid advertising can help your business get seen by your target audience. This could be paid adverts in Google or on social media.

If you are after SEO services, blogging and/or paid advertising, then you will need to provide your web design agency with a list of keywords that you want to be associated with your website.

10. Budget and timeframe

It is important that you have realistic expectations when it comes to setting a budget for your website.

An expertly-designed website with a strong marketing strategy and ongoing hosting/support and maintenance is worth every penny when it comes to the return you will get from your investment. So don’t cut corners in this area.

Give the web design agency an idea of your budget, this way they can come up with the most realistic strategies and services that will be available within that budget.

Ensure that when comparing quotes from different web design agencies, you compare the services and features offered to you, like for like, e.g. is one agency offering online marketing services, while the other isn’t. Then within that, what online marketing services are they actually offering you for your money.

You will also need to let the web design agency know what your deadline is, again be realistic with this. It can take time to build and perfect a high-quality website. If you have a vital deadline then make sure the web design agency knows this so that they can plan accordingly.

There you have it, our top 10 key areas to cover in your website design brief.

I hope you have found this article to be helpful. If you did, we would love it if you could share this article so that we can help others in writing their own website design brief too.

We have many other blogs to help you with planning your business, click here to view more.

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Jodie Burkin

Jodie Burkin

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We help ambitious small businesses to develop professional-quality websites and digital marketing campaigns that enable them to punch above their weight in a competitive market

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