Writing a strong website brief

A step-by-step guide

Writing a strong website brief

In our last blog, we guided you through how to choose the right WordPress agency for your website build. Now that you know how to select the best people to work with, the next step is to give them a strong website brief. We can't overstate enough how important this is. The better the brief, the better the website.

It’s worth taking some time to put the website brief together. That way, as your chosen WordPress specialist website design agency, we can be sure of exactly what you need.

If you’ve never worked with a web developer before, you’re probably wondering where to start. But don’t worry. In this guide, we’ll talk you through it step-by-step.

So you can make sure you set your website build project up for success.

What is a website brief?

Sometimes called a website tender or website specification, a website design brief outlines all your requirements for your new website.

A good website design brief gives us all the information we need to create the best website for your brand. As we begin your project, we’ll read your brief document, and work out the best approach for creating your website.

The importance of a clear brief

Clarity is key at this stage of the website project. So it's worth taking time to put in the details we need to know to help us map out your new site.

A clear web design brief:

  • Allows us to understand your goals and objectives
  • Helps us to form a clear strategy
  • Reduces misunderstandings
  • Decreases time spent on revisions
  • Minimises project delays

What to include in your brief

When you sit down to write your website brief, there are some essential areas you need to pay attention to. Being as detailed as possible will give us insights into your brand and how we can help you achieve your goals. 

Step 1

Background

The first section a good website brief gives us background information about your company.

The more context we have about your business, the better the result will be for the entire project.

You’ll want to include:

  • Your mission statement
  • Core elements of your business – services, industry, products
  • Your vision and values
  • Brand guidelines – personality, tone of voice, colour palette, logos and other visual assets
Step 2

Target audience

Every decision we make about your website's design and functionality starts with your audience.  After all, your website isn't really for you. It's for the people you serve.

Understanding these elements heavily influences the design and functionality of your finished site.

So we’ll need to know:

  • Who are your ideal clients (AKA client avatars)?
  • How do you help them meet a need, solve a problem, or achieve a goal?
  • What are their needs, pain points, and desires?
  • What experience do you want them to have when they visit your website?
Step 3

Competitors

Another mark of a successful website design and build is making sure you stand out in a very busy online world. 

To do that we need to understand who your key competitors are and how they present themselves online. So we can research them and create a strategy for how we can position your website within the market. 

We’ll also need to know which aspects of your competitors’ online presence you like, and which you’re less keen on. 

These insights will help us build you something that you love. And a website that marks you out above others in your industry.

Step 4

Project goals & objectives

For us to craft a strong strategy for your website design and build, we'll need to understand your overall business goals.

That way, we can work with you to define the project objectives and make sure they support your business goals. 

We need to know what success would look like for your project.

Here are some examples of the kinds of success criteria you could focus on:

  • More traffic to your website
  • Higher volumes of good fit leads
  • Building brand awareness
  • Better conversion rates for visitors
  • Other KPIs like specific SEO targets
Step 5

Site structure

We'll also need to know how many pages (or sections), navigational items and other key elements you'd like your website to have. 

Aside from your home and about pages, which other pages would your audience expect to see? Are you going to incorporate a news or blog area, so you can share valuable content with your audience and boost your SEO? Will there be booking forms, social media feeds, interactive maps and contact forms?

We’ll need a good idea about this from the start. So we can plan the scope of the web design project and deliver you a site that works for your visitors.

Step 6

Look & feel

Arguably, the most important aspect of the project to most of our clients is how your website looks.

Here we'll want to know the kind of aesthetic you're after. You might go back to looking at your competitors' websites for this part of the process. 

But you’d also do well to look at a range of other websites, even from those outside your industry. It really helps to have a strong sense of what you like and don’t like. So we can plan a web design that you, and your visitors, will love. 

For example, you might favour lifestyle photography over graphics and illustration. Or you might want a video background for your landing page. 

You might like a muted, pastel colour palette. Or your brand identity might feature bolder, primary colours. 

We’ll need to know what your brand guidelines are and how strictly we need to stick to them. Or you might be happy for us to be a bit freer with the design, and create something that pushes the boundaries, without straying too far from your branding.

Step 7

Functionalities

This is just as important as the look and feel of your website. Your site needs to work for your visitors and function properly, as well as simply looking good. 

We want to know all the specific functions and technical features you’ll need from your website. 

For example, you might need an e-commerce store with stripe integration, so people can easily buy products from you. 

If you’re providing courses for your customers, you’ll need a members’ login area. You will also need a customer dashboard. 

Work through your business processes step-by-step and list out everything that needs to be included in your website build.

Let us know about:

  • Third-party compatibility requirements for any systems, software and tools you use in your business
  • Integration needs – for example, you might need your website to connect to an external database or service to cut down on admin time. For this, we might need to set up an API integration.
  • Performance expectations. We’d like to hear your thoughts on the speed and responsiveness of your site.
  • Optimisation requirements. It’s really important for us to get a holistic understanding of your business. So we can optimise your site to fit your needs. For example, you might experience times of the year when you have unusually high traffic. We need to plan and optimise for those scenarios.
Step 8

Timeline

Your project timeline is also an important part of the briefing process. Here's where you share with us any important events in your calendar. You might have a new project launch coming up that you need the website ready for.

If you’re really up against it time-wise, we can look at working the project into phases. That way at least you could have your core pages ready, with the rest to follow at a later date.

Step 9

Budget

When you ask agencies for a quote on website build, you need to include an idea of your project budget. It doesn't need to be a definitive figure. But it's really useful for us to at least have a ballpark idea. 

Now, we don’t need to know your budget so we can quote to that budget. We just need to know that we’re not wasting your time by suggesting options that are out of reach. 

If you have a lower budget, for example, that’s fine. We can simply reduce the scope of the project to fit. 

The last thing we want to do is recommend a ton of options that we’ll have to remove later. That can be a very disheartening process. 

Most good agencies will ask you what your budget is. It saves time for everyone during the website tender process.

Step 10

Other things to consider

Finally, you'll want to consider any extra services you might need after the website launches.

We’ve written before about the importance of keeping your website maintained, up-to-date and SEO optimised.

So you will want to consider some of the following:

  • Website hosting and maintenance
  • Digital marketing services
  • Content entry and updates
  • SEO optimisation

Although these elements come after the initial build and launch of your new website, it's worth thinking about them early on. The success of your website long-term will depend on it continuing to stay up-to-date and working well. To achieve this means consistent and regular work in all the areas listed above.

You’ll want to factor these things into your overall website budget. So you have the best possible chance of standing out from your competitors in a crowded market. 

While it’s not necessary for a brief to include every single point from this guide, providing ample information is always advantageous. If you’re experiencing any doubts, rest assured that our team is on standby to support you. We’ll initiate early discussions to pinpoint your requirements for the new website and steer you towards the right steps to take as we approach the briefing stage.

Speak to our team today about how we can support you through the briefing and quoting process for your professional website design and build. 

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