How to write a website brief – Your 10 step guide

How to write a website brief

The best way to find out how much your new website is going to cost is to write a website brief. This document is an integral part of the process if you want to ensure you get an accurate quote. Without it, no good web design and content creation professional can deliver a quote that reflects the work needed to achieve your requirements. But for those people who have never written a website brief before, the entire process can seem daunting.

That’s why we’ve written a step-by-step guide to writing your website brief. Follow our instructions and you’ll create a briefing document that will help your web designer to understand exactly what you want and need. Remove any temptation for them to make assumptions by providing a clear, concise overview of your website goals.

Step 1: Give your web designer your business background

What do people really need to know about your business? It’s a good place to start when you are thinking about your website brief. Begin at the beginning, by explaining how and when your company began and any important moments in the history of the business. Then consider where you are now. How many locations, staff, services, products, etc. do you have? All this information will help your new website team to understand more about your business, its heritage and how it functions.

Then it’s time to talk about the products and/or services you offer and why they appeal to your target market. What pain point are you resolving? What aspiration do you help your customers fulfil? By understanding these fundamental parts of your business, the web design team can consider how best to reach those people.

What’s your position in the marketplace? It’s good for any designer to understand where you currently sit in relation to your competition, and to find out where they are doing well and where you want to do better. Are there any regulations or constraints about your industry that are important to be aware of? Now is the time to mention them.

Step 2: Share what you already have.

There are two main reasons that you may want to build a new website. First, you don’t have a website yet. Second, you have a website but it’s not performing as you want it to. Your web designer needs the complete picture of where you are right now. Make a note of any website, marketing materials or brand collateral for them to examine. Then explain why each item does and doesn’t work.

This doesn’t have to be exhaustive. You can make bullet point notes with brief explanations. By understanding the current state of play, your web designer can start planning how to improve your digital presence. Once work begins, they will want to ensure that your brand design and content are consistent across every customer touch point you have. So, make sure that all social channels, marketing materials, logos and images, websites and print advertising are included.

Step 3: Tell them what you need

We’ve established that what you currently have isn’t doing the job. So, it’s time to be very specific about what you need from the new website.

  • If you are running an Ecommerce business, you will want the website to drive sales through your online shop.
  • You might want to increase brand awareness by using your digital presence to showcase your expertise.
  • If you want to generate enquiries or leads for a sales team or senior management, you may require a brochure site to get customers to call or email you.
  • Maybe you want to use content marketing as a way to position yourself as a thought leader and trusted expert to generate enquiries.
  • Do you want to build a platform where users spend time accessing a service that’s created bespoke for them?

A good website brief will be clear about the intention of the new site. Don’t be shy about including more than one aim for the site. Also, remember to highlight aspects of your old site that do work for you so the team can better understand your perspective.

Step 4: Describe your ideal customer

Your new website is not for you, it’s for the target audience you want to attract. So, you need to tell your web designer all about them.

In marketing speak, it’s your ‘avatar’ who is important. So, drill down into exactly who these people are.

  • Demographic (age group, gender, income, likes and dislikes).
  • How they access your site (mobile, desktop, tablet)
  • Do they have any particular requirements for usability?
  • Would they respond better to highly visual or written content?
  • What reaction do you want the site to provoke in them?

Step 5: Get technical

You need to consider how this website will work once built.

Do you want to manage it yourself, or have a site management team take care of it for you? What information do you want to glean from users and where do you want to store it?
Are you using other tech or systems that the site must integrate with?
Will you require areas for users to interact?
Are you building a marketing list from sign up forms?
Who currently controls your domain and your hosting?
Would you need any translation into different languages for international customers?
Are users required to log on to see content?
Do you need to build an online shop using Ecommerce software?

Think about the layout. Are there specific pages that you definitely want to include?

  • Service pages
  • Meet the team
  • Blog/news
  • Case Studies
  • Social Media feeds
  • Contact us with detailed directions
  • Bookings page
  • Portfolio

Getting your thoughts down in this document allows the web design pros to advise you on what you can achieve within your budget.

Step 6: Share your style preferences

Getting the style right is fundamental to a great website. It’s always helpful to share examples of sites you like and point out what you think works so successfully. Remember, these websites don’t need to be in the same industry or niche as you. There may be something about them that would directly appeal to your target market, even if the company is completely different.

You should also describe what the perfect website for your company would look and feel like. Consider whether the language would be formal or informal, if you would be using graphics, photography or illustrations, and colour or typography preferences.

Step 7: Consider your content

Your content is the place where you get to describe and convince the user that they need to work with or buy from you. Great content informs and engages, speaking in the language that the user would be most comfortable with.

That’s why you need to think about how best to communicate with your potential customers. What do they need to know in order to hit the ‘buy now’ button? If you don’t have the time or the skills to create the content for yourself, don’t skimp on website copywriting because a great-looking site can fall flat with bad writing.

So, think about the content you’d need to launch the site and how the content will be created, posted and amplified once the site is live.

Step 8: Think about the future

You need to consider who will host your website once it is built and if you will need support to maintain it after the development is complete.

Answer these questions:

  1. Who will host your site? Do you want to move from your current hosting provider?
  2. What arrangements do you have for site security and back-ups?
  3. Do you want to engage a support team to maintain the site going forward?
  4. What skill gaps do your in-house team have that an external provider might be able to help with?

Step 9: What’s your digital marketing strategy?

If you want users to visit your new website, you need to let them know it’s there. Your digital marketing strategy is vital to ensure that all this hard work is not done in vain.

Your web designer should ensure the site has good visibility in search engines and responds quickly for users to maintain engagement. However, without a decent digital marketing plan, you may not get the results you need.

Think about these digital marketing approaches:

Content marketing – blogs, video, social
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Social media marketing
Email marketing
Advertising

The reality is that you’ll need to engage in at least one of the marketing activities to start driving traffic to the site.

Step 10: Budget and deadline

Finally, you need to talk money. It doesn’t matter what your budget is, a good web designer can help you make the most of it. The most important thing is that you are comfortable with what you are spending and what you will get for it.

Reputable web designers can help you work out the most important things to include and the extras that would be nice but aren’t vital at this stage. If you have significant budget, the team will guide you in where to focus funds and what you’ll get for your money.

Make sure you give a clear deadline. Good web designers tend to be busy, so you need to make sure they have capacity to work on your job. If you need something quickly, don’t be surprised if there are additional charges for priority support.

We hope this guide has been helpful to you. If you want to discuss your new website requirements, please give our team a call on 01603 560587 or email hello@jmjwebdesign.uk


WordPress Web Designer and founder of JMJ Web Design.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *