How to Write a Web Design Brief (Word Template Included)

How to Write a Web Design Brief
A well written web design brief is essential; not only to allow the web design company you approach to put together an accurate proposal quickly, but also for the future success of your web design project as a whole.

Your web design brief doesn’t need to be complicated or long, but it does need to cover some key areas. So In this article we’ll look at:

  • what a web design brief is
  • why it’s important
  • who should write it within your business
  • and most importantly what you should include within it

Plus we’ve got a handy Web Design Brief (Word Template) which you can download, so you can hit the ground running once you’ve read this article and start creating your own web design brief.

Let’s dive in…

What is a web design brief?

What is a web design brief?

Starting a website redesign project (or creating a website for a brand new business) can be a complex undertaking – there’s a lot of information to convey.

The web design brief acts as a handy place to store all of that and succinctly communicate all the details to web design companies.

Simply put, a web design brief:

  • Provides historical information on your business and your future objectives
  • Talks about your target audience
  • Outlines the project requirements
  • Indicates a timeline for the project
  • Includes budgetary information

Download our Web Design Brief Word Template

Download the blank web design brief Microsoft Word template to complete in your own time. All the sections within the brief link to the relevant sections in our article for reference.

Download Word Doc

Why write a web design brief?

Why spend time writing a brief?

Setting aside time to write a web design brief is essential whether you’re a new business looking to create your first website, or even if you’re an established business and this will be the third, forth or even fifth website!

Let’s look at the main reasons why;

  • Communicate your ideas – a web design brief gives you a central place to communicate your ideas. Placing all your ideas in one document keeps your project organised and ensures nothing gets lost.
  • Stay on track – a brief allows you to stay on track with your project because everything has been listed out in a very structured way. At any point during your project you can refer back to the web design brief to check that everything has been addressed.
  • Identify deliverables – stepping back and putting pen to paper allows you to identify all the deliverables you’re expecting as part of your project. For example, are you also looking to rebrand as part of this project? Are you wanting an ongoing digital marketing effort afterwards to help promote your new website? Do you want to build an email list from website sign ups from day one? Etc…
  • Avoid scope creep – scope creep has been responsible for souring millions of web design projects across the globe. By their very nature web design projects can be complex and often ideas fail to get mentioned early on. Then when they are brought up, you might get frustrated that the element you didn’t mention adds extra time (and potentially cost) to your project. Writing a brief will ensure you avoid all this, as you’ve taken time to cover all bases at the very beginning.
  • Expected outcomes – it’s essential for your web design company to understand what you deem to be a project well done. Are you expecting x5 new leads per week from your new website? To increase your monthly e-commerce sales by £10,000? Or to simply improve the perceived perception of your company from potential customers?
  • Manage expectations – Defining your expectations (as mentioned above) will allow your web design company to manage them and recommend the correct solutions to help your business hit your goals

Who should write a web design brief?

Who should write your web design brief?

In terms of specifically “who” within your business should write your web design brief; we’d recommend either the business owner or the marketing manager.

Once you’ve completed the brief you can always work in collaboration with your chosen web design company to refine it and finish it off.

Here are some tips on how you can get the necessary people within your business onboard with your website design project;

  • Firstly, let them know about your plans to revamp your website well in advance.
  • Give them 1 week to send you their thoughts/ideas and to identify any problems you have with your existing website that need to be addressed with the new one.
  • Hold a 1 hour meeting to discuss everyone’s ideas and whittle them down to a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves.
  • Write your web design brief.

What should I include in my web design brief?

What should I include in my web design brief?

Okay, so now that we’ve covered what a web design brief is and why you should write one, let’s get into exactly what needs to be included.

P.S. If you just want to download our Web Design Brief (Word Template), you can do so below, but we’d recommend taking 15 minutes to read the rest of this article as we cover every section in detail.

Download our Web Design Brief Word Template

Download the blank web design brief Microsoft Word template to complete in your own time. All the sections within the brief link to the relevant sections in our article for reference.

Download Word Doc

 

Web Design Brief: Business Overview

1) Your business overview & any issues you have with your current website (if you have one)

The first thing that needs to be included in the web design brief is information about your business.

  • What sector are you in?
  • What do you do?
  • What will keep customers coming back to you rather than your competitors?
  • What sort of website do you need? (Brochure site or e-commerce website?)

And if you’ve got an existing website:

  • What’s wrong with your current website?
  • Have existing customers made comments about using your existing website?
  • Who is your existing website provider and do they host your current website?

Answering these seemingly simple questions will form the basis of your web design brief and allow a web design company to quickly understand your project.

The more information you can share the better, as a big picture overview will give web design companies a clearer indication of where you are and where you want to get to.

 

Include Your Objectives In Your Brief

2) The Objectives

Most people don’t just wake up and say “I need a new website”.

There are always deep-routed reasons as to how you came to this conclusion.

If you’re a new business then perhaps:
You’ve tried creating the website yourself in do-it-yourself software (like Wix) and you’ve outgrown it, or got fed up with it.
You know you need an experienced web designer to help bring your vision to life.

  • Or if you’ve already got a website, perhaps;
  • Your existing website looks dated and doesn’t portray your company in the right light
  • You aren’t generating enough new business from your website
  • You aren’t selling enough products through your site.
  • Or your website loads slowly and functions poorly on mobile devices.

Whatever the reason, there are usually several things driving your decision to refresh your website.

Top tip: As part of your web design brief we always suggest creating a “goal statement”. For example;

“We need a new website that acts as a showcase for our business, allowing people to view information about the services we offer and how the quality of the service we provide is above and beyond what our competitors provide.”

The objective here is to differentiate this business from its competitors, whilst providing easy to find information.

This is fairly straightforward compared to;

“We need a new website that is going to bring in x5 new enquiries for us every week, allowing us to add £xx,xxx to our revenue every month.”

The objective with this project is to grow this business using digital marketing once the website has been built.

This second project looks different to the previous one because it will need a digital marketing plan to be put in place after the website has been completed, in order to drive traffic to the website so the customer can reach their goals of x5 new leads per week.

Setting a goal statement really helps everyone focus on what REALLY matters to the success of the project.

 

Web Design Brief: Include Your Target Audiience

3) Your Target Audience / Market

Defining your target audience and target market is really important – after all your website is for them, not for you.

Web design is used to solve business problems, so it’s critically important to understand the problems your target audience face and how your business solves them, so that this can be clearly portrayed on your new website.

If your site isn’t generating leads or selling products, then it’s likely because it’s not hitting home for your customers for whatever reason.

If you can survey existing customers, or find a group of people that fall into your demographic it can be a really useful exercise to let them browse your existing website and record their thoughts – this can really help move your next website forward.

Another highly useful exercise is to create “Customer Personas”.

You can do this by coming up with 3 different fictitious characters that might be looking for the services you offer or the products you sell.

Then for each character, ask yourself questions like:

  • What geographical area do they live in?
  • What kind of income do they make?
  • Are they married with kids, or single?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What memberships would they have? (E.g. Netflix, Gym, Golf Club)
  • What magazines or newspapers would they read?
  • What website do they frequent and why?

Building up customer personas like this can really help you relate all the decisions you make regarding your website back to your target audience. You can also get hold of some useful free customer persona templates online.

 

Web Design Brief: Include The Problem You Are Facing

4) The Problem You Are Facing

Although it can seem negative, it’s essential to be truthful about the problems your business is facing in the here and now.

Lean into the problems you’re facing and open up to your web design agency in your web design brief and they can propose the best solutions to help you overcome them.

If you’ve got an existing website, then the problem you are facing might be;

“Our website looks dated, it doesn’t generate enough enquiries and it’s difficult for us to edit the content without involving our existing web designer.”

Once you’ve realised the problem(s) you are facing your web design company can recommend the path to a solution.

 

Web Design Brief: Include Competitors

5) Competitors

Competitor analysis is really important so your web design brief needs to include links to 2 or 3 competitors and information on what they are doing well and not so well.

The biggest decision here is to decide whether your business is trying to stand out or fit in.

There’s no right answer; it depends on a case by case basis.

Understanding what your competitors are doing online is really helpful as you may identify gaps you can fill with your service (or products).

Pointing out your competitors also really helps your web design company ensure that they create a design for your site that doesn’t get too close to what’s already been done before.

 

Web Design Brief Project Timescales

6) Project Timescales

Timescales are no doubt really important to you when it comes to your web design project, but saying “ASAP” in your web design brief doesn’t really cut it!

Planning, designing and then building, testing and launching a successful custom website takes time – it doesn’t happen in a matter of days.

As a rough idea, a standard brochure website typically takes 6 weeks to complete (2 weeks for the custom designs and 4 weeks for the build and testing).

And an e-commerce website will likely take anywhere from 8 – 12 weeks to complete depending on the complexity.

In actual fact timescales should really be dictated by your web design company after they’ve gathered all your requirements.

BUT if you’re struggling to think when you really need your new site by, ask yourself “Is there an event/product launch/something else we can work towards with the project?”.

We often find that helps get some initial launch plans in place.

 

Web Design Project Budget

7) Project Budget

How much does a website cost?

It’s the question that throws most businesses into a confused panic.

Just imagine for a minute;

You block out 1 hour to have a call with a web design company about your project, you trade a few emails and then you write and send over a web design brief with no budgetary information.

The web design company you spoke with then spends 3-4 hours preparing a detailed proposal for your project, and it comes back with a price that’s three times more expensive than you were prepared to pay.

In this scenario everyone has wasted their time and your project isn’t going anywhere.

In contrast, by giving some indication of your budget (it doesn’t need to be exact!) you are;

  • Showing web designers that you are serious
  • Being 100% transparent

Many businesses don’t want to show their hand, and by doing so, it doesn’t mean your web design company will squeeze every last penny out of you.

There are MANY ways to go about building a website, so even if your budget is lower, it might just be that your project needs to be approached from a different angle.

There are also business grants out there that you can apply for, so your web design company could point you in the right direction if your funds don’t quite stretch right now.

If you’re still not sure, you might want to check out these popular articles we’ve written about the cost of websites.

Download our Web Design Brief Word Template

Download the blank web design brief Microsoft Word template to complete in your own time. All the sections within the brief link to the relevant sections in our article for reference.

Download Word Doc


Web Design Project Specifics

8) Project Specifics

Alrighty! Now we’re into the specifics of your new website.

The information within this section doesn’t need to be overly technical, so don’t worry if you’re struggling to fill it all in.

Maybe you don’t know exactly what you want?

That’s okay too – your web designer can help you, but it’s important to consider the following areas to get a conversation started about the specifics of your web design project.

8a) Website Features & Functionality

Maybe the main goal of your project is to introduce some new features or functionality into your new website. Maybe you need a way for customers to be able to take online courses, or you need a customer portal so they can easily access secure documents relating to their account with your business?.

Whatever the functionality is, list it in this section so your web design company can recommend how best to tackle it.

Functionality directly correlates to cost, so this part of the brief is really important – make sure you include everything you’re aware of.

Top tip: if your project has loads of functionality, mark “nice to have” against any elements that aren’t essential. Quite often (and maybe due to budget constraints) web design projects can be broken down into phases, so some functionality could potentially come later if it stretches your budget too far.

8b) Key Pages / Sitemap

In order to build a website your web design company will need to know what pages it will have, otherwise it would be like building a house without knowing how many rooms you need. Where would you even start?

List out all the pages you think your website site will need in the first instance. Your web design company can then recommend how best to organise these pages to make browsing your site simple and easy.

For example:

  • Home
  • About us
  • Services
  • — (Individual Service Specific Pages)
  • Resources
  • News
  • Contact Us

8c) Content Requirements

Have you written all the content for your website already? Or can it be ported over from your existing website?

Letting your web design company know the situation when it comes to content will allow them to plan accordingly.

It will also help you plan at your end so you know whether you need to schedule time to produce content for certain pages (or all) of your website.

Unlike many web design companies we don’t insist that you have all your content written before we start your project.

As part of our process we evaluate your existing content and make recommendations during the wireframing stage of your project.

Once we’ve produced the designs for your website you can then work on the content using the designs as a guide for how much text to write for each page.

8d) Calls To Action (CTA’s)

Not many people like “asking for the sale” – especially us Brits.

BUT if you don’t ask on your website you don’t get, so it’s important to think about how you will encourage people to take action on your website and what form this will take.

We’d recommend having two types of call to action on your website:

  1. Direct – this is for those visitors who are ready to buy or ready to hire your company. It might be to “Schedule a call”, or it might be “Buy Now” if you sell products on an e-commerce website.
  2. Transitional – this is for visitors who aren’t quite ready yet, and need a little persuading. A good transitional call to action can be a downloadable PDF. Something with less commitment, but something that helps reinforce your brand as an authority in your industry.For example, if you’re in financial services and you specialise in pensions, it could be a short PDF guide entitled; “5 Steps To Easily Increase Your Pension Pot In The Next 5 Years”.This demonstrates your authority and the customer can make contact with you in their own time.

8e) Website Likes & Dislikes

Are there websites out there that you like or dislike?

Maybe you love the design of one particular website and want to emulate it with your new website, OR you’ve seen how well one brand displays the content on their blog and you want to do something similar?

Knowing what websites you like and also dislike is really useful to help the web design company you work with understand your specific tastes and needs.

Top tip: Remember your new website is for your target audience (not for you). You might also like to ask existing clients for examples of sites they feel evoke certain emotions that represent your business. That way you can be sure your new website design will satisfy them (and not just you).

8f) Digital Marketing & SEO Requirements

Often overlooked, but oh so important. How are you planning to drive traffic to your new website once it’s launched?

Unfortunately the “if we build it, they will come” mantra doesn’t work on the web these days due to the sheer amount of content out there.

You need a plan in place to market your website.

That might be:

  • 6 months of search engine optimisation work
  • x3 posts per week on LinkedIn
  • A paid LinkedIn Ad inviting people to register for a webinar

Or something completely different.

Your web design company will be able to recommend which digital marketing approaches are best for your goals.

8g) Domain Name & Hosting

More of a logistical item to cross off the list, but important to do at this stage in order to prevent delays further on down the line.

  • Who manages your domain name?
  • And who is your current website (if you have one) hosted with?

If your existing web design company controls your domain name, then you may want to transfer it away from them to your new web designers – this process can take 7 days so best to know about it early so it can be factored into your project timeline.

And if your current web designer hosts your existing website, you’ll likely want to have the new company host your new website, so an annual hosting cost will need to be factored into your project too.

8h) Ongoing Maintenance

The vast majority of web design companies will talk to you about carrying out scheduled website security updates and patches.

But If you are working at a large organisation, then it’s possible that even though your new website will allow you to edit all the content (likely through WordPress), you may prefer to just have your web design company do this for you to save time.

If this is the case, you need to include this within your web design brief so it’s clear.

That way your web designer can include a monthly or quarterly fee to do this for you.

8i) Analytics

Every business wants to track their website usage statistics with Google Analytics, but it’s still worth spelling it out in your web design brief.

That way it’s clear that your existing tracking information needs to be ported across to the new website from the old one.

Top tip: If you have an existing website running Google Analytics, the most switched on web design companies will likely ask for access so they can take a look how your existing website is being used and found. The data your existing website holds can be really critical when making decisions during your project.

Download our Web Design Brief Word Template

Download the blank web design brief Microsoft Word template to complete in your own time. All the sections within the brief link to the relevant sections in our article for reference.

Download Word Doc

 

Contact Information In Your Web Design Brief

9) Contact Information

You’re getting close to completing your web design brief now, so next up you need to provide information about who your main point of contact will be during your web design project.

Top tip: “Design by committee” projects are extremely frustrating for all involved, so we always recommend appointing one person to manage feedback internally and to then communicate with us as the web design company.

Clearly listing who the designated point of contact is and the best way of contacting them (usually email and phone) will be information your web designers will love to see within your web design brief.

 

How Will Your Award Your Web Design Project?

10) How Your Project Will be Awarded

Again, being transparent will help the web design companies you approach see that you mean business (literally!).

In this section of your web design brief you need to let people know:

  • What the deadline is for proposal submissions
  • When you’ll be getting together internally to review all the proposals
  • When you will notify everyone of your decision on whom to move forward with

This makes it clear for web design agencies to plan their activities, so they can get a detailed proposal over to you that covers everything you need, instills you with confidence and puts a big smile on your face!

 

Time to make contact

It’s time to make contact!

Congratulations! You’ve completed your web design brief.

Trust us when we say you won’t regret the time you’ve spent doing this as it will:

Ensure you receive proposals that cover all bases
Ensure that you see ‘like for like’ costings as all web design companies you’ve reached out to are quoting on exactly the same project scope.

So now it’s time to start searching for two to three web design companies you are interested in working with.

If you don’t know how to do that, we’ve put together a cracking article with tips on how you can find the best web designers near you.

 

Conclusion: How to write a web design brief

After reading this article you’re probably now able to see how much of a valuable tool a web design brief is – not only for allowing you to obtain detailed, accurate proposals – but also as a document that can be referred back to during your project too.

If you’ve completed your own website brief using our Word Template and would like us to create a proposal for your project, please do give us a call on 01747 852298 or send the brief to [email protected]

If you have any questions or you are struggling completing the brief we can also help with that, so feel free to reach out.

Download our Web Design Brief Word Template

Download the blank web design brief Microsoft Word template to complete in your own time. All the sections within the brief link to the relevant sections in our article for reference.

Download Word Doc

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