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How to write an effective design brief that explains your product goals

Handing over your ideas to some design team feels bothersome. We've been in product development for 9 years, and we know what you're going through. In case you need a bit of support, we know a tip to help you combine contracting partnership and a healthy night’s sleep. You need an adequate design brief. Learn how to fill it out in this article. You’ll also get a download link to a free project brief template.

Reading time: 8 minutes

Table of contents

Key takeaways 

    • A website design brief is a document that collects product and brand information that’s necessary for your designer.
    • A proper brief allows you to estimate the approximate design costs, save time on project discussion, and speed up the design process.
    • The brief should describe the goals and objectives of the product, target audience, brand identity, visual style and content as well as technical requirements. Also, we’ve prepared a website design brief template for you.

What is a website design brief

In a nutshell, a website brief is some sort of work specification for a website design. Though more nuanced and detailed.

UI/UX brief is a document that spotlights brand and product information that is essential for your designer to do their job.

Typically, a web designer uses questionnaires to brief clients, but there’s no need to wait for one. Feel free to share a pre-arranged description. Whatever the situation, make sure to reply point by point, as the quality of your brief impacts the outcome. Keep reading to learn more about how they depend on each other.

Different design goals require their own brief versions. Say, a website project designed from scratch won’t have the same description as its redesign. The latter should specify the distinctions between the current product iteration, and the new one.

Why designers need a website brief

When you work in partnership with an outside expert, be prepared for their unconsciousness of your brand, even if you are a rockstar on the market. What’s more, if you need a new website, different from the existing one, you’ll definitely need to specify all the details. So, handle a brief as if it were a profile for a professional acquaintance.

Don’t put it like that. The definition sounds too vague.

When you explain product expectations from top to bottom, that’s a win-win situation. Here are some benefits both for you and the contractor, such as a web agency.

    • Time-efficiency. The brief relieves you from the necessity to waste two hours on brand presentation. You only have to meet with the design agency manager for a quick follow-up to discuss additional issues.
    • Preliminary estimation of costs. With the full picture at hand, the design team can calculate approximate project costs before the start.
    • Speed up the design process. Your designer will know what techniques, approaches, and elements you would like to use for your interface. They will be more likely to fit into the project timeline.
    • Predictable results. The website design requirements are captured in writing in your brief, which increases the chances to get the expected outcome.
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What makes a perfect web design brief document?

We all know how important good web design is. And an experienced design agency will be able to deliver a high-quality UI/UX for you. All you need to do is give them an understanding of your business and your vision, show corporate style elements, explain the goals and content of the site, and outline the project scope. They’ll take care of the rest.

A perfect website project is a combination of creativity and planning. While a non-standard creative brief sounds nice, sometimes it could be better to opt for a standardized version. If you write that you need a “magical, inspirational, catchy, soft website design”, it will be open to the interpretation by the designer. There’s not enough details, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see exactly what you imagined. Instead, give a detailed description of what you want and where. Also, it would be a good idea to provide do’s and don’ts that you see on the sites of your competitors. The better your description is — the better the outcome will be.

Overall, if you don’t have a lot of experience with this sort of thing — make it clear and follow a template. This way, your website design brief will be useful as possible. A well-thought-out project is much more likely to be ready on time, and with a website brief, it will be even easier to do so. Moreover, if your website was designed with user experience in mind, you’re more likely to increase retention, attract a new audience, or boost online sales. You may use various metrics to assess the effectiveness of the website, such as Google Analytics, and then adjust the design if needed.

Our guide to an effective design brief 

At Purrweb, we have a universal website design brief, and most of the 300+ projects in our portfolio began with that specific design brief. We’ve tried several options and designed a balanced version that encompasses features of both the standardized and creative brief, so it can suit you even if you’re not well acquainted with the web design team. 

Sometimes, our partners find formulating requirements by themselves hard. If you have any problems with writing a website design brief — don’t hesitate to ask your partner for assistance. Say, should there be any difficulties, we can arrange a call with an entrepreneur to tackle everything.

Here are some tips for bettering your lot while filling out the brief template.

Business

📌Questions to cover:

    • Goals and objectives: What’s the principal idea of the product? What issues does it solve?
    • Product scaling: Are you planning to extend the functionality?

The first section of the website brief focuses on goals and objectives regarding the product and your business. Tell the design agency what your company does or is planning to do and why. Describe the essential value of the application or website and its unique proposition. Specify what should be emphasized in the design – a certain feature, low prices, fast services, full support, etc. – often highlighting with just a differing font size or color will do the magic.

If you plan to test your idea on the market with an MVP and then launch a full-fledged plan, make it clear that you don’t need advanced pop-up elements, videos, or GIFs at the current stage. The team won’t spend time on designing elements that you don’t need, and it will be easier to meet deadlines and not to go over budget.

In the left box, you see loose and general wording, while in the right one, the client states it specifically and clearly

Target audience

📌Questions to cover:

    • How would you identify your target audience? Describe the typical user of the product.
    • What are the salient features of your audience?
    • What pain points do users have?
    • How can your product tackle them?
    • Under what circumstances do people use the product?
    • Are you planning to extend your target audience? In what direction?

The target audience includes those for whom you are creating the product. Things like age, occupation, habits, and needs directly affect the UX. For elderly people, you better ensure large texts and accessibility, while teens would prefer dope parallaxes and animations. As for pain points, write what bothers potential users and how exactly your product can deal with it. That way, you will re-emphasize your unique selling proposition (USP) and usefulness.

Remember that audiences vary from country to country, and each country has its own quirks of website design and accepted explicit and implicit norms. The site for Chinese and for Americans may differ in structure, button layout, text size (due to language differences), etc. It’s important to know and take this into account.

We can easily imagine those whom the client is targeting at

Competitors

📌Questions to cover:

    • Are there any competitors in the market? What are their weak and strong sides?
    • How is your product different from the competitors’? What unique features and functions does it have?
    • What references can you share?

It doesn’t make sense to enter a market that you know nothing about. How will you gain any profit? You’d better start with studying it. 

Analyze competitors’ offerings and determine what features make the golden standard that TA (Target Audience) is accustomed to. They often differ depending on the niche and industry, so look at the competitors in your field. Although, just your favorite apps and their cool website design features can be beneficial as well. The more informed you are, the better. Make sure to collect references to show to the team.

See also  Mastering Market Research for Startup Success: A Comprehensive Guide

Visual style 

📌Questions to cover:

    • What does your brand/product name mean?
    • Do you have a corporate style or a pre-designed product identity (e.g. logo, font, color scheme)?
    • Are there any specific preferences in terms of style?
    • Can you give some adjectives describing your brand? 
    • What do you (want to) relate yourself to?
    • Are there any “don’ts” for images and styles?

Interface design should consistently support the corporate identity of your brand. This is essential to let users build the connection between these two. Include the description of brand identity in your brief or provide some input for its development. The example below might help you here.

You can easily imagine the product and feel its vibe from such a specific description

Let’s start designing your app today!
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Content 

📌Questions to cover:

    • Are there any documents with specifications? 
    • Are there any complex parameters you need to fill out? 
    • Will there be any custom images?

Interface design depends on the website content. As an example, think of a news site structure and compare it to the one of any social network. That’s why you have to specify in the website design brief whether you plan to post custom photos, widgets, articles, and charts. 

Also, think about how you will increase traffic to your website. It should be optimized for search engines, so make it possible to incorporate spreadsheets and don’t forget about descriptions of pictures — this often helps people with visual impairments and helps raising the site in the search engine rankings. Look at how the content of competitors’ sites looks like and what keys they use. If you will publish advertisements, allocate space for it so that the ad elements do not overlap with the content.

This sort of graph taken from our crypto wallet case is a vivid example of custom content

Technical requirements

📌Questions to cover:

    • What devices are you tilting toward?
    • Which screen resolutions do you consider?

The last point in your product brief will be technical requirements. First, sort out the devices you want to focus your development on desktop, mobile, or tablet. This will impact the layout. 

Define resolutions, most often, they are 375х812 for mobile and 1440х900 (1440х700) for desktop. The resolution determines what the product will look like on different devices. Say, a product with 375×812 resolution looks great on 80% of devices but loses quality on brand-new iPhones and Android released in 2010.

It’s essential to create a project timeline or schedule. Put the date and the time by which you want a website design to be finished at the end of your document.

Download a free website design brief, fill it out, and share it with any contractor

Summing up

We hope this guide to writing a website design brief will make it easier for you, and you will come to the goal with a predictable result. 

If you need a new website or have a concept for a web application — we’d be happy to discuss a brief for it with you. Share your idea in the form below. Purrweb has 9 years of experience in MVP development. Our design agency knows how to make a trendy and friendly interface.

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