How to write a website brief

Company meeting

Every successful website starts with a clear brief.

To develop the ideal website for your company, it is important to establish a good website brief, so both designers and developers can better understand your requirements.

Following our guide below can help you better define your web development brief and lead to a better quality website, reflective of your company’s core values.

Checklist to write a good website brief

1. Decide your budget

The first step in creating your website brief is to decide your budget.

Your budget could be the difference between a template or bespoke website design, improved UX design or developing a digital marketing strategy. Therefore, it is worth assessing what value each component holds for your company.

A website could be the main point of contact for your clients or simply used to deliver contact information. The purpose of your website will provide a clear idea of how much it is worth spending to support the success of your business.

The agency you work with may offer guidance as to which add ons would be ideal for your business and will likely recommend additional features based on your budget.

A clear idea of your budget from the start will ensure you get the best value for money.

2. Understand your audience

To target and appeal to the right user, it is essential you clearly define your target audience to the designer from the start.

This could be as broad as targeting nationwide users or worldwide users to begin with. Google’s free SEO tools can be used, in order to help with this.

Your user’s requirements can heavily influence the overall design of the website to improve user experience.

An older audience may require easier navigation and a simplified layout. However, to appeal to a younger audience, you may want to consider more visual features and bolder designs to ensure they remain engaged.

It may be worth conducting your own research into your clients and how they feel towards your current website.

Understanding the flaws of your web design and the user experience can offer more direction and help to achieve a website that better suits your audience.

3. Know your competition

Competition analysis in Google Search

Before the designer starts your web design, you must research your competitors and see how they tackle the challenge of developing a quality website.

A better insight into your competitors presents themselves online may offer more guidance to how your company could be presented. You can also identify which elements you feel work well and which you dislike.

Moving forward, it is a good idea to present a list of links for your designer with notes on which aspects you’d like included in your design. Whether this is competitors or successful websites, links can provide more clarity to the design elements you like best.

4. Consider the structure

Example website sitemap structure

Your website will involve a sitemap that allows you to develop a hierarchy of information.

Considering the structure of your website when developing your content will ensure the information you feel is most important is foregrounded for your audience.

Tip: As a general rule, your homepage will consist of condensed extracts from several other pages within your site map.

This allows for easier access and navigation for your audience. Yoast offers an effective guide to planning and organising your web pages for improved UX.

Structuring your website effectively can also benefit SEO. Having specific pages that use page-specific keywords will make it easier for Google to identify the purpose of each page so that it can be indexed and ranked faster.

5. Know your CTAs/Website goals

It is essential you define the purpose of your website simply and clearly within your brief.

Specific call to actions will allow the designer to improve your conversion rates through the design of the page. Your website may want to promote a specific product or subscription service in which case the designer would place these call to actions within the hero section of your homepage (the main top banner for example).

Additionally, this can be foregrounded throughout the design to improve the likelihood your audience will convert.

For example, Connect Insolvency provided a clear brief which allowed their designers to design a website appropriate to their goals and values.

Screenshot of Connect Insolvency's website in order to demonstrate effective CTAs and website goals (ease of use)

Their homepage provides a clear description of their business and invites readers to read about the range of services on offer — the key to encouraging a conversion.

Furthermore, they also use icons rather than text for each service, in order to deliver information in a quick and efficient manner to retain their audience’s interest.

6. Understand any special technical requirements

To avoid any additional and unexpected costs, it is important to initially define any technical requirements.

This could involve eCommerce plugins, API integration, booking forms and social media feeds. Doing your research will give you a better understanding of which of these would involve extra costings and allow you to be better prepared when writing up your brief.

7. Outline your SEO Strategy

For most companies, SEO plays an important role in ensuring your website is found by the right customer.

Outlining any existing SEO strategies is important to understand how this can be changed or improved upon to maximise the potential of your new website.

Furthermore, on the topic of digital marketing, it may also be worth considering email marketing or pay-per-click advertising too. However, this again depends on the budget, audience and purpose of your website.

Putting the brief together

You might not want to outline a massive document (but it may help). However, simply arrange a consultation with a web development agency and be sure to discuss all of the points above.

A few things we often get clients missing are:

  • Defining technical requirements.
  • Understanding content migration processes if the website is built on a different platform.
  • Understanding the SEO implication from rebuilds.

If you’ve covered most of the topics mentioned throughout this blog post, then you’re off to a good start, as most web design companies will also try to guide you right too.

Posted on 23rd Aug 2019