How to write a website brief that delivers results? + Template

Discover the crucial information designers need for an effective website brief. Learn how to align project goals, avoid common pitfalls, and ensure success by providing key elements like company info, audience insights, and content requirements.

Updated on
July 2, 2024
Lots of stationary and sticky notes on table

The goal of this blog is to inform people about the information, designers require from clients to build a brief that allows them to do their jobs better. A well-structured website brief is crucial for the successful development and deployment of a website.

Everything Design website homepage hero section

The power of a good website brief

It acts as a roadmap for the project, ensuring that all participants are aligned and that the final product meets the client's expectations and business objectives.

It helps agency folk avoid:

  1. Misaligned expectations
  2. Endless revisions
  3. Wasted resources and rising costs
  4. Poor quality output
  5. Client dissatisfaction
  6. Scope creep
  7. Timeline extensions
  8. Erosion of trust and reputation

That’s a lot of pressure on a tiny brief, wouldn’t you say? All the more reason to make sure it’s spot on!

It helps designers understand your goal and how to achieve it

Every business needs a website for multiple reasons. Yours could be:

  1. Booking demos
  2. Showcasing your company at an event
  3. Developing a digital presence
  4. Establishing brand Presence
  5. Converting leads
  6. Increasing sales
  7. Generating revenue
  8. Acquiring customers
  9. Expanding your market
  10. Showcasing product/services
  11. Providing information
  12. Educating customers
  13. Promoting special offers

This list is by no means exhaustive. A kickass brief helps designers understand the goal so they can make informed design decisions.

How well it is understood will determine how well it is accomplished. 

Essential elements of an effective website brief

Having the following information will empower designers to create a website with confidence and clarity.

Company Information

A group of colleagues sitting in a modern semi formal office setting have a team meeting

Business information and objectives

As a first step, an in-depth explanation of the company background, including what it does, why it does it and what its goals are will help in the alignment of tasks while designing the website. 

This comprehensive understanding of the business enables us to identify issues and highlight key elements that can create a unique angle, through either visual design, messaging, or tone of voice.

Positioning

Understanding a company's positioning is crucial to avoid misrepresenting the brand. If the company already has a defined positioning, it’s essential for us to know that to ensure consistency.

Conversely, if the company does not yet have a clear positioning, it’s equally important to understand this so we can help establish a coherent and effective brand image through the website design.

Product / service description

A detailed description of the workings of the product will help the team create better and cleaner communication as well as visual design concepts. 

Need to  haves:
  1. USPs (Unique selling points) - What makes the product unique. 
  2. Use cases - Detailed scenarios that describe how users interact with the product to achieve a specific goal or address a specific pain point.
  3. Product demo / Recordings - Demos that showcase features and functionalities to provide a better understanding of the product. 
  4. Product reviews - User reviews from platforms like G2 and Capterra to display on the website.
Good to  haves:
  1. Account and login credentials - Access to product to test and understand functionality first hand. 
  2. Calls with specialists - C-suite executives provide high-level strategic goals. Specialists can offer detailed, practical insights into the product’s functionalities, essential for crafting superior website information architecture.
  3. Figma files for UI (User Interface) screen recreations - Editable files fasten the process of recreation by allowing designers to efficiently recreate more minimal and user-friendly designs, reducing information overload for visitors."
  4. Value map - Identifying and aligning the customer’s needs, pains, and gains with the product's features, benefits, and solutions, ensures the website communicates relevant and compelling value to its target audience.
Process of product integration

It’s important to understand the client's processes of integrating products for their customers because it ensures that the website accurately reflects and supports these integration processes.

With this information, designers can create a website that clearly communicates these processes, making it easier for potential customers to understand how the product will fit into their own lives. 

To understand the integration process, designs would need::

  1. Detailed Workflow Documentation.
  2. Client Interviews and Feedback.
  3. Use Cases and Scenarios.

Target audience

A person using a marker to white audience of a white board and drawing arrows pointing towards it

Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

An ICP is a detailed description of the type of customer that would benefit the most from a company's products or services and, in turn, provide the most value to the company. 

Defining the ICP is essential when designing a website because it ensures the content, messaging, user experience, and functionalities are tailored to meet the specific needs, preferences, and behaviours of your target audience.

Moreover, understanding the ICP helps designers prioritise features and functionalities that are most valuable to the users, ultimately leading to higher engagement and better conversion rates.

ICP categorisation

When your product serves multiple groups such as sales, IT, and marketing, it's crucial for us to understand the priority in which you want to target them. This prioritisation allows us to design a website that effectively addresses the specific needs and pain points of each group in the order of their importance to your business goals.

By tailoring the content, features, and user experience to the most critical groups first, we ensure that the website delivers the right message to the right audience at the right time.

Potential customers

Two hands shaking
  1. How they find you - Detail how potential customers typically discover your company. Is it through search engines, social media, referrals, or other channels?
  2. What they search for - The specific criteria can vary greatly based on the company’s individual requirements and the unique demands of their projects. 
  3. How they approach you - Describe the common ways potential customers get in touch with your company, whether through your website, phone, email, or social media.
  4. How you approach them - Explain your strategies for reaching out to potential customers, such as through email marketing, social media campaigns, or direct sales efforts.

Knowing these aspects allows us to:

  1. Enhance navigation.
  2. Showcase required certifications.
  3. Design more strategic CTAs.
  4. Display appropriate social proof.

Customer challenges and how you solve them

This knowledge allows us to 

  1. Craft relevant content that directly speaks to customer pain points.
  2. Build empathy that translates into intentional design decisions.
  3. Anticipate user needs and preemptively address potential issues. For example, if customers often face integration challenges, the website can feature easy-to-find guides, FAQs, and direct support options.
  4. Build trust by addressing specific user  problems thoughtfully.

Competitors

Global / Local

Understanding the competitive landscape is paramount because:

  1. Evaluating Standards - Knowing both global and local competitors helps us benchmark against the highest industry standards. It will also stay relevant for longer.
  2. Competitive Edge - By understanding what both global and local competitors are doing we can identify gaps and opportunities to create something unique. 

Your Differentiators

What sets you apart from the competition is crucial. Even if there is little that distinguishes you, it's important for us to know. This knowledge helps us tailor the design. If there is something unique, we can strategically highlight it through visual elements such as icons, badges, and banners.

What Are They Doing Differently?

Competitors’ innovative approaches can serve as inspiration. For example, if a competitor has a highly effective onboarding process, we can study and adapt these elements to create an even more seamless experience.

By identifying what competitors are not doing well, designers can focus on those areas to differentiate the company.

Companies Similar to Yours in Different Industries

Analysing companies in different industries that are similar to yours helps us identify what these industries excel in.

For ex. Customer Engagement: E-commerce sites often excel in user engagement through interactive features like chatbots and personalised recommendations. Implementing similar features can enhance user interaction on your software website.

References

Clients often have websites they admire and would like their own sites to emulate.

Home page hero section of the website stripe

 For instance, many clients reference Stripe as a benchmark for web design due to its simplicity, intentionality, and functionality. However, it’s important to understand:

  1. What specifically about Stripe's website resonates with the client? Is it the high-level visual design, or are there deeper elements at play?
  2. Does the seamless user experience, clean layout, or efficient functionality strike a chord?

By pinpointing the exact elements of Stripe's design that resonate with the client, designers can tailor their approach to meet these expectations.

Clear references and specific feedback help bridge the gap between the client's desires and the designer's execution, leading to a website that not only meets but exceeds expectations.

Content

The word content with crown on the C

Content is the backbone of any website, playing a pivotal role in conveying the brand's message, engaging visitors, and driving conversions.

Content has to be created from scratch

When content needs to be created from scratch, designers need as much information as possible to understand the brand, its value propositions, and its goals.

Value proposition canvas with complication information for the brand Tunnel

Ideally, a value proposition canvas will help in crafting precise and compelling messaging. If one is not ready, we will require the following:

  1. Sales / Onboarding Decks  - These materials provide insights into how the company presents itself to potential clients and customers.
  2. Brochures - Brochures often distill the essence of the company's offerings and brand message. They serve as a guide for the tone, style, and critical information that should be included on the website.
  3. Existing Website content - Reviewing existing website content helps designers understand what information is already available and how it can be improved or repurposed.

Content is provided by the client, but requires a facelift

When content is provided by the client, we clean up the rough copy, ensure it is clear, concise, and aligned with the brand’s voice.

We organise the content and make it more accessible and engaging for users. This includes breaking down complex information into digestible parts, using headings and subheadings effectively.

To do this effectively clients will have to provide website content in a neatly structured document with clear divisions to indicate sections.

Website

Pain Points to Be Solved

Websites that speak directly to user pain points are more engaging because they immediately resonate with the user's needs. Understanding the customer pain points that the company aims to address through its website shapes the design process, ensuring that the website effectively communicates the company's value proposition and meets user needs.

Website Persona

Understanding who typically visits the website allows us to craft messaging and visuals that are compelling to them. By studying their personas to understand their behaviour and needs, we can tailor the website experience to meet their expectations and engage them effectively.

Where in the Sales Cycle Does the Website Come Up?

An image with a circular sales cycle describing seven steps. Prospect buyers, contact prospects, qualify buyers, itch solution, overcome objections, close sale, follow up

Understanding at which stage of the sales cycle the personas typically interact with the website helps in creating stage-appropriate content. For example, new visitors (awareness stage) might need introductory information, while returning visitors (decision-making stage) might look for detailed product comparisons.

Main Focus

Knowing the main focus of the website, whether to inform, engage, convert, or support, helps in prioritising design elements that cater to the primary needs of the personas.

For instance, an informational website might focus on clear, accessible content.

Meanwhile a conversion website would focus on optimising the user journey to encourage visitors to complete desired actions, such as making a purchase or signing up for a service.

The website page of Tunnel which says Struggling to manage payments to 100+ vendors via multiple methods?

Sitemap

For designers, a website sitemap is primarily a tool for visualising the structure and flow of the website. It helps them understand how users will navigate the site and how different pages relate to each other. Designers focus on:

  1. User Experience (UX): Ensuring the sitemap creates an intuitive and seamless navigation experience for users.
  2. Information Hierarchy: Organising content in a way that makes sense visually and contextually, guiding users to key information efficiently.

From a developer's viewpoint, a sitemap is a blueprint for the technical implementation of the website. It provides a clear structure for coding and development. Developers focus on:

  1. Technical Structure: Understanding how pages are interlinked to ensure proper URL mapping, directory structure, and data flow.
A complex website sitemap with lots of connection lines

Current customers

Logos

We require logos of current customers to display on the site to build credibility and trust.

The logo section of the webste PayBy

Testimonials - Text + Video

We would also require testimonials either in text or video format to legitimise the product. 

What’s out of scope

Understanding what is out of scope in a project is important for designers to ensure the project remains profitable and avoids unnecessary work.

However, in some contexts, doing extra work might be beneficial if the client is good to work with and could lead to future opportunities.

Timeline

The timeline must outline:

Excel sheet with lots of information and colours that denote the timeline of a project
  1. Milestones -  Key dates and deadlines for important phases of the project.
  2. Schedule - A detailed timeline of when each task will be started and completed.

Conclusion

Creating an effective website brief is critical for the success of a project. It provides clarity and direction, ensuring that all parties are on the same page from the outset.

At Everything Design, we create stellar briefs that lead to amazing finished websites. If you would like to partner with us on a website design project, reach out to us!

More Blogs

How to build a successful & effective startup website?

Author
Prenitha
Updated on
July 20, 2024

High Converting Pricing Page

Author
Prenitha
Updated on
July 19, 2024