Writing a Brief For Your Website

Image of lady writing a website brief

So just how do you go about writing a brief for your website? The first port of call is to focus on some key aspects of what you hope to achieve from the forthcoming website, and who you are as a business. Some of the items on your list should consist of the following:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Who online are your direct competitors?
  • Are you looking to target your local area or are you an international business?
  • What elements and features of your existing website are letting you down?
  • Does your brand need updating?
  • How would you best describe your business?

By asking these questions, you’re taking a step back and taking a more detailed view from the outside looking in. This will help identify how you could improve your online branding and give a more defined message to your target audience.

The Importance of Collaboration

When we are first contacted by a business to design/redesign or develop their website, the majority have some form of idea and brief on what they’re after. But one of the key reasons a business will reach out to a web design company is not just because of their skill in designing and developing for the web. It will be because of their experience of how a website should be marketed after launch.

Collaboration is crucial to a successful brief. Why? Simply put – you know your business and customers and we know good web design and marketing. Put the two together and there is a high chance of success. After all, there’s no point having an Aston Martin if you don’t know how to drive!

Looking Back to Move Forward

Looking at your existing website will answer a lot of questions in which a web design company may put forward to you. For example, it would be a good idea to analyse the following about the existing website.

  • What features are currently good about the existing website?
  • What features are outdated or are no longer relevant?
  • When was the site last updated?
  • What levels of traffic is the site currently receiving?
  • Is the website mobile friendly / responsive?

Answering the above questions will certainly help any web design company begin to visualise how your new website should look and function. It will also assist in the general web design process.

The Importance of a Project Sheet

We always provide a project sheet to new clients to complete. We provide this as it will allow us to identify the important factors of the new website and understand the business and of course that all important target audience. It’s no essay – it consists of no more than 20 questions and coupled together with your own brief should create the foundations of a successful project.

Budget

Seems daft to put all your cards on the table and allowing the service provider to know what your budget is, right? Of course, they’re likely to quote slightly under that budget maximum if the work is put out to tender. But this isn’t always the case. By setting a budget you then allow discussions to take place between yourself and the web design company on what can be achieved within that set budget. This will help achieve absolute focus on what is essential for the website and what is classed as a ‘nice-to-have’.

To Rebrand or Not to Rebrand?

Website design moves forward just as quickly as technology does. That well loved logo that has been with you from the start, which was so well received when you first saw it in print, could well be looking very outdated. So what to do? Rebranding should never be feared, not should it be underestimated. You’ll find that simple alterations to your existing brand can make the world of difference and keep it fresh and current. Whether to rebrand or or not is usually one the key aspects of any website design brief we receive.

Content Is Still King

Another important factor of a good website brief is identifying your existing content. For example:

  • Is the content still relevant?
  • Is it well written or do you need the services of a copywriter?
  • Is your website content helping with your search engine rankings (SEO)?
  • Are the images still relevant?
  • Does your website content really sell your brand and business to potential new customers?
  • Do you currently use a Content Management System (CMS)?

In our very own project sheet, we focus around 20% of our questions on existing content. Content is definitely still king. Knowing your content structure allows for the website design to fit around this. The content should always dictate the design. Never the other way around. Content structure allows for good wireframing and helps produce better visual concepts during the website design phase. Have you tried sticking a square peg in a round hole?

Illustrations of website page wirframes

Additional Services

By this point a website brief will begin to take shape and with open and honest discussion between the web designers, web developers and the client things should be looking fairly solid. However, this potentially is just scraping the surface. On many occasions we have found that a new website usually means some form of rebranding. After all, there is a high chance that your printed material will no longer tie in with the design of the website.

So it’s not uncommon that a newly designed website will trigger off changes to the design of your printed materials such as business cards, brochures and letterheads. A similar process should be undertaken to write a brief which covers these additional services too, but you may well find that a lot of questions have been answered already within the website brief.

Conclusion

Planning is one of the keys to a successful website. Research also play an important factor too. Research into what your competitors are doing better than you from a digital point of view. Research into your target audience and what would be a good user experience for them when visiting the new site.

Here at westfourstreet, we love nothing better than open communications. We love getting under our clients skins (in a good way!) and learning about them and the industry they’re in. We carry out our own research too – based on what we have learned from all the years we have been doing this. If we can help you with your brief or you would like to discuss ways you could improve your existing website, feel free to give us a call on Milton Keynes, 01908 967359. Or use our contact form found here.

Also, feel free to download our Client Project Sheet here.