Hiring a web designer, Why do I need to Write a Brief?
Are you hiring a website designer? The best way to ensure your designer creates the perfect website for you is to provide a detailed website briefing.
Many people think that saying “I need a website” is enough for a web designer to quote by. However, as talented as web designers are, they need more than this to understand what it is you’re asking for.
There are billions upon billions of websites online, with new ones being created every day. Each website is different with its own unique mission and purpose. How these websites vary dictates how much time, skill and dedication is needed in order to create them and make them a success.
It’s for this reason that designers and developers need detailed information on what it is you want your website to be and how it needs to perform on the internet. You can provide this by sending them a website briefing.
The best way of delivering this information is in a well-written brief. Here at Creative Monarchy, we have spoken with our designers and put together a list of what you need to remember in order for them to respond with a fair quote.
For the most part, the meetings before a job will cover what is expected, but having a solid idea beforehand makes these meetings far more effective and productive.
Writing Your Brief
Now that we know why a website briefing is important
Let’s look at how we should approach writing one.
How detailed you go with your website briefing is entirely up to you. But it’s important that your web designer and developer understand what your business is and what it hopes to achieve through having a website. So we would advise to at least provide a brief explanation of the following:
When creating a website, you want to ensure that your designer understands your business and what it is that you do. After all, you want your website to reflect your business and be an extension of it. Therefore in your briefing, you should always include a brief history of your business: what it is you do and explain your brand and mission.
You’ll also want to let them know about the size of your business, your location and your future plans.
By really knowing your business, the designer can design your website around your brand.
Your Audience and Customers
Websites should always be designed and built for those who will be visiting them. In order for your web designer to ensure that the user experience is high quality, they need to understand the people it’s for. Therefore try to describe your users and what your ideal customer looks like. What do your customers want from your website?
Know your Goals
When writing your brief it’s important that you develop an idea of exactly what it is you want from your website. If you’re creating an e-commerce store you may want your website to drive sales and increase your revenue, but you may also want to establish a brand and build awareness of your business.
If you offer services, spreading awareness and getting new leads may be a priority. Whatever they may be, it’s essential that you set out your business goals so your web creator can plan your website around them.
Also, express how you plan to measure the success of your website. What short term goals do you wish to hit?
Out with the Old
If you already have a website or have had one previously, make sure you explain what worked and what didn’t. There may be things that you want to keep in the new website, or maybe there are some things that you do not want to repeat. Add links the website if it is still live, so the designer can explore your issues and experience them first hand.
Why not do some research and see what websites you like? You may want to get ideas from competitors or maybe you’ve visited a website that you really liked the look of or enjoyed. Share links to these websites and explain what you liked about them.
Talk about the things you would like to include in your website and explore possibilities.
This will give your designer a great idea of how you want your website to function and allow them to understand what skills and time they’ll need to quote you for.
What you don’t like
There’s also no reason why you can’t give examples of website that you’re not so keen on. This will give the designer an understanding of what not to propose for your website.
Remember the more information that you can provide in your website briefing, the more the designer will understand you and what it is you want from them.
Give a sense of style and functionality
When writing your website briefing, you may want to explain what kind of feel you want your website to have. Perhaps you’d like a very clean design with cool tones or something more colourful. Maybe you’ve seen websites with animations that you’d like to include. It’s important to establish how much free rein you want your designer to have.
Now don’t be intimidated by this, we’re not asking you to get too complicated, we just need you to let us know if specific features are required.
These features may include user logins. Perhaps you wish to have subscribers, in which case you need to decide how you wish to manage that. What do you want to be included on the user’s page and dashboards etc.
Or perhaps you want an e-commerce store in which case you need to consider product categories, stock management, checkout and so on.
You should really break down all the bespoke features that your website will need to have incorporated into it.
You also need to list the general areas that you want to have on your website. This might be a blog, online booking or social media feeds etc. Just lay it all out.
If you’re not sure, then you can always ask the designer for their advice and suggestions. After all, they are the experts.
It’s important that once the website is built, it can be managed. Therefore it’s important that you express to the designer how you plan to manage the website after completion. Do you need to export data? How often do you plan on adding content? These are things to mention in your briefing.
The admin area of your website can be tailored to meet your requirements; so by getting specific on your needs, the designer can make sure that managing your website is simple and done in a way that suits you.
Let your creator know who will be providing the content. If it is you, you may wish to give a simple website map diagram, displaying how many pages are required, what they are and what will be on them. The designer should provide a more comprehensive sitemap before the build, but it helps them to see a rough idea upfront.
You also need to state what the line of approval is and who assesses content. The supplying of content can often slow down projects and even delay the launching of your website, so you need to be clear on the content from the beginning, with a clear understanding of who is responsible for approving it.
If you have imagery, graphics or video content that you can provide then you should mention this in your brief. If the designer needs to acquire imagery, they need to know from the outset.
In many cases, clients require the hiring of a copywriter. This may be something that you wish to source for yourself, however, you’ll often find that designers have other professionals that they often work with. Therefore they may be able to source this for you or give you advice on where you can find a copywriter.
If you require imagery, you may wish to look into stock photos and videos. Again this may be something that you wish the designer to outsource, in which case it should be stated in your briefing. Stock images usually cost money, so you should consider this when establishing your budget.
The most important thing when planning your content is to establish who is responsible for sourcing it and who needs to approve it. If you wish to rely on your designer for any content, you should expect this to be reflected in the cost.
If you are unsure of who to choose, then please ask the advice of your developer. They are experienced and often know what hosting company is best to work with in terms of quality, maintenance and support.
At Creative Monarchy, we like to use SiteGrounds as our hosting provider. They are reliable and offer high-quality support and maintenance for websites. You may find that your designer recommends another service, so it’s worth discussing your options.
If you have chosen your hosting company then you should include this in your website briefing. It’s helpful for the designers to know what hosting they are working with.
On-Site Search Engine Optimisation and Digital Marketing
It is essential that you have an SEO (Search engine optimisation) strategy, this may be something that you designer or developer offers so it’s always worth talking to them about it. You may decide to do SEO inhouse with your own team member working on the site for you. Either way, it’s worth establishing who is responsible and outlining your strategy.
To learn more about Search Engine Optimisation, check out our previous blog on on-Site Seo: Achieving Organic Traffic, Easy and Effective
Digital Marketing is also essential for driving traffic and conversions. If you have an ongoing strategy or have a plan for future marketing campaigns, it’s definitely worth mentioning in your website briefing.
You want your brand to be shared across your online presences e.g. social media and advertisements. Make sure you share this in your website briefing.
State Your Budget
I know what your thinking… Why would I tell the designer my budget?
The truth is, when you hire a designer, you are buying expertise, time, skill and talent. By being upfront about your budget, the designer knows exactly what your limits are, and they can respond effectively.
If you are working with a lower budget, the designer will be able to walk you through exactly what can be achieved with it, and where your limits are. If they think you would be better off using another service, they can advise you on where to go.
By being upfront about your budget, you are more likely to receive practical feedback from your designer. If you’re being too ambitious, the designer can assist you on how to achieve some of your goals in a more realistic fashion.
Another thing to remember is that it’s ultimately up to you to decide if you want to hire the designer or not. If you don’t think the quote given is fair, then you can always shop around. However, you’ll often find that because you are the customer, the designer will often respect your budget and be as fair as possible because they want you as their client.
It’s a big time saver and actually gives you the upper hand. By stating your limits, designers will need to compete to give you the best pitch and the best price. Creating a detailed website briefing gives both you and the designer more clarity on what it is you hope to achieve with your website.
Putting Pen To Paper
While in the ideal world, you’ll have all of the above mapped out. In reality, we often find there are areas that we just aren’t sure of. That’s why we suggest that you use this blog as a guide only. If you aren’t sure about some of the details, you’ll usually find that when talking with your designer you can establish the details as you go.
Below we have put together a template that you can download and fill in. If there are any parts that you aren’t quite sure of, simply highlight the point as a note, and make it a point for discussion. A professional designer will sit with you and help you iron out the details.