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Guides & Advice

The benefits of a good website brief and how to write one

By Hannah Dell'Armi / July 25th 2017

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There are a lot of elements involved in effective web design, and a lot of considerations to be made in the planning stages to make sure that your site’s redesign goes smoothly.

You want to know that your new site will meet business needs, and your digital agency will need to know all about your business and your goals to help make your vision a reality. With that in mind, we’ve put together this guide on why a well-written web brief can make your site’s redesign even more effective.

What is a website brief and why do you need one?

A web brief is essentially your way of describing to a digital agency exactly who you are and what you want to achieve. If you don’t have a brief, or don’t know where to start, agencies can often provide you with short questionnaires, the answers to which will create the backbone of a web design brief.

Illustration of a person writing on a whiteboard - the title on there says who, what, why

A brief is an extremely important starting point when it comes to designing or redesigning a website; it is the first document your digital agency will see to get a comprehensive understanding of exactly who you are, exactly what you want to achieve, and exactly how they can help you.

While they are useful for the agency in providing you with a solution, they can also be helpful to your business by providing you with new insight and understanding into your business’s role, place in the market, and long-term goals.

The benefits of a good web brief filled with useful contextual information will always make it easier for your digital agency to reach a solution, so it’s both important and useful for everyone involved that this first communication is done well.

What should be in a good website brief?

Objectives & market information

The core of your web brief should be objective based. A description of what you want the new site to achieve, rather than a defined plan of the exact changes you expect to implement and how.

Knowledge of the position your business and your competitor’s businesses have in the market is also important. You could do this by answering a handful of questions:

  • What do my competitors and I do?
  • What does our business do that separates us from our competitors?
  • What kind of clients and customers do we aim to attract?
  • How do we currently outperform our competitors?
  • What do our competitors currently do better than us?

Your agency will find it far easier to provide you with a range of solutions if you’re able to tell them a few things that make you stand out, a few things that make your business unique in the market that can serve as the focal point of a redesign.

Business needs and requirements

Make sure that your digital agency is fully aware of any business requirements. For example, if you’re an online retailer, you will likely be making use of CRM software to track customer and sales information, and you’ll need this to be integrated into the new site.

Illustration of 3 people building a jigsaw with giant jigsaw pieces displaying the words objectives, features and needs

You should also think about what features your site currently has, and what could be added to improve the site for customers. For example, Hubspot found that brands who had a blog gathered 68% more leads than those who didn’t. This could tie into what you believe the core purpose of the new site will be.

If you’re looking to build a site focused on increasing lead generation, for example, a well-designed blog can be a simple yet effective cornerstone of your new site. It could also serve as the start of a long-term relationship with a digital agency, as their content team begin to produce the content for your new site’s blog.

However, be careful to make sure the requirements for your website are based on business need and market insight, not just personal preferences or assumptions – see our 7 common pitfalls when designing a website article.

Budget

Your budget is a vital part of your web design brief. This is because the budget provides to your agency a sense of defined scope for the project.

There are often multiple ways in which your agency can approach a website solution, and your budget will inform the upper limits of what is possible for the agency to do for your site. This is why a highly-detailed brief can be so useful. Knowing what you want your site to achieve is a great starting point, but a lack of budget scope may affect what your agency will be able to provide.

Essentially, the more information your digital agency has to work with, the better position they will be in to improve your website. Not providing a budget means the agency can’t be sure whether or not they will have the financial means to implement certain changes to your site. At least by providing a ballpark figure, however strict your budget needs to be, your agency can still discuss it to find a suitable solution to your needs.

Before committing significant budget to a full redesign make sure a full redesign is the best option for your business. Sudden drastic changes to a site’s aesthetic, functionality, and usability may upset a part of your current customer base. Instead, it may be the case that your budget would be better spent understanding your customer journeys and improving the website user experience, which will lead to a higher conversion rate (our what is conversion rate optimisation guide explains how the process works).

Ok, so where do I start?

A website brief questionnaire is always a good starting point for determining your requirements and establishing if a full website rebuild is required.

We’d love to explore how our web and conversion teams could deliver results for your business. To request a briefing questionnaire or arrange a brief telephone conversation with one of our team, call 08447 550 350 or get in touch to find out more.