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Web Design

How to write a Website Creative Brief

If you are reading this you are quite possibly shopping around, looking at lots of web design Manchester agency websites.

If you are not from a creative agency it will probably seem confusing, daunting and pretty hard to tell the difference between one design agency and another.

Before we move on, stop, go and put the kettle on, and come back in 2 minutes for a quick read.

We’re about to make your life a whole lot easier.

When you think about it, a website is an incredibly complex, and tricky, thing.

On the one hand you are applying marketing and design skills, the same as you do when producing a printed advert or brochure.

On the other hand you are doing all this, and make it work on potentially hundreds of different types of phones, tablets, and desktop personal computers out of typed code, scripts and databases.

However, the process for commissioning a web design is not as hard as you may think, provided you know what to say, what to ask, and what everyone should be asking you.

A good website design brief sets a clear and detailed list of requirements that you want your new website to achieve.

Let’s start right here.

1) The Website Creative Brief

If you are ringing around, any good web design company will ask you a seemingly endless amount of questions.

We do this to get to know you, your company, and what your aims and goals are.

The first thing you want to do is write it all down. To go through the same questions over and over again with 3 or 4 web designers is going to take you a lot of time. It’s easy to forget key points if you are talking, it is hard to compare the differences in packages that you will be offered.

Write a creative brief.

Once you have written this, you can still pick up the phone, you can have a chat, get a direct email to someone and email it through to them.

This will give them a chance to see your requirements, hear about your company, work out potential solutions, and most importantly, put a price to it.

The best thing about a proper creative brief is it will save you money.

So what do you need to include? Let us walk you through our ideal creative brief.

2) About your Business

A good design company wants to know all about your business. We want to know its history, its present positioning, and where you want it to go.

When writing your creative brief, think about including the following information

  • 100 words about your company.
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How large is your company?
  • How many people work for you?
  • A description of your service, products or what makes you different.

3) Your Audience

We need to know who your audience is.

Looking further forward describe not only your current audience, but any new audience you want to attract with your new website design.

  • List, or describe, the type of people that need to be influenced by the new website when they see it
  • At the same time, describe your CURRENT audience

4) Your current website design

As professional web designers we will learn far more about your aims from what you think is WRONG with your website.

We will want to know the answers to queries such as:

  • In your opinion, what is wrong with the current design?
  • What do you think works well?
  • How much web traffic (visitors) do you get?
  • How old is this current design?
  • How do you update content on it?

5) Your New Website

This is the fun part.

When you started the search for someone to rebuild your website you had a number of reasons as to why you needed a rebuild, This is the time to outline your aims.

  • What do you want the new website to do?
    • Increase your web traffic
    • Increase your brand awareness
    • Add a new functionality, such as eCommerce or Blog
    • Make more sales
    • To become mobile friendly (responsive website)
    • A booking system
    • More intuitive contact forms
  • Who are your main competitors, both locally, and nationally
  • Are you rebranding?
  • Will you be adding new content as part of the rebuild?
  • Who will be creating this new content?
  • How many pages duo you think the new site will require
  • Is this more than your current website design?

5) Your Budget

This is the information that often people shopping around for a new website keep close to their chest.

The frustrating part for you, the client, is if you come to a design agency with an idea of a budget in mind, you can save yourself a lot of time, energy, and ultimately costs.

As a business person I understand that you want to see what is being offered, and at what cost. As you can see from a quick search on Google, you can websites build from fees of as little as $5 to well into six figure sums.

In which case, provide a price bracket. You may have set aside £2,000 – £3,000 – A very reasonable figure to have when dealing with professional web designers. You may have set aside £8,000 – £12,000. Again tell us.

With an open declaration of budgets, and the same brief sent to each design company, you will get a similar quote, but potentially with very different solutions.

  • What budget do you have in place for the design of your new website?
  • Do you require further marketing to launch the new website?
  • Will you require support, or maintenance moving forward?
  • Is training or maintenance required if you commission a Content Management System?

6) Online & Offline Marketing

Once you have your new website live, you will be looking to promote this.

How are you thinking of letting current, and new, customers know about your new site? Tell us as much informational you can.

  • Are you pushing forward with a Content Marketing based strateg –
  • Articles, Industry News or Video
  • Email marketing
  • Google PPC (Pay-per-click)
  • Social Media
  • Will you be running new print adverts
  • Are you considering any other print design to promote the new site?

7) Search Engine Optimisation

With design being so subjective, your opinion is crucial.

We always have more in-depth chats with you before starting any work. One thing that always helps us to gauge your personal preferences is to see what you like. With this in mind please provide:

  • 2 or 3 examples of website you like and why
  • Is it the navigation?
  • Do you like the colours used, or images?
  • Perhaps you admire the tone of voice they use to engage visitors?

These do not have to be from your industry at all, and it helps if they are not. A wider view is far more informative to us. What I do ask is you be specific.

Take time to look around, research, look at ‘award winning website design’ on Google, and see what is out there. We all spend most of our time on a small selection of websites, not knowing how many other ‘great’ websites are out there. Find out. Let us know.

We also like you to flag up an example of a website you dislike – funnily enough, this is often the easiest question of all.

8) Your Deadline

Each and every client of ours has an idea in mind of when they wish the new website to be ready.

Luckily not many expect a new website in a week. A considered and through website build takes a bit longer than this!

  • Are you tying in the launch of the new website with a new product launch, exhibition, or seasonal event?
  • Ideally provide a completion date. With this we can work backwards to ensure that deadline is hit and proved a start date, and launch date.

95% of delays are caused by a client who agrees to supply all the new content, and then discovers that doing this, along with a full time day job, is an arduous task.

Your design agency can provide all of this for you, but will be an extra cost. Far better to let them know now so the costs can be factored in (and at a discount), than to admit halfway through that you are struggling and can’t get it to them for weeks.

Photographs take time to research. Text, headlines, calls to action and a marketing strategy for new web pages take time to create, to amend and to settle on.

All of this needs to considered.

In Summary

The more information that you can provide your design agency with, the quicker you will get a thorough reply and the more accurate the costing will be.

As standard we supply a full working proposal to serious enquiries.

These take many hours to prepare as we research all the potential solutions to your brief.

  • What platform we suggest you build the new website on
  • A thorough timetable of how the website build
  • A full breakdown of costs
  • Anything we need you, the client, to supply or find out
  • Your current hosting provider
  • Who owns the domain name?
  • Do you have Website Analytics you can grant us access to?
  • An optional maintenance package, detailing all costs, and provisions, should you not have a designated employee to maintain the new website.
  • Assets we require from you
  • Logo Files, preferably in EPS or PDF format
  • Images you have purchased, and the licences that accompany them
  • Additional content should you be providing any

With all the information above you are now in a prime position to provide any design company with a full, rounded brief.

I promise this will save you money, it will enable your design company to provide you with a new website that exceeds your expectations, and ensures a successful build.

As a WordPress web designer, what would be really superb, is if you include us on that list and let us show you exactly what we can do for you.

Author – Matt Parker

Matt Parker - Designers Up North

Matt Parker is a web designer and SEO consultant with over 15 years of experience. He has also handled the more technical and project management aspects of Designers Up North for over 10 years.

Matt has a bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. He has been messing around with computers since he was a kid, starting on a Commodore 64 and swiftly moving on to spend too many hours on an Amiga 500!

His biggest passion is helping small businesses thrive through elegant web design, SEO strategy, and digital and print marketing. He takes great pleasure in taking complex ideas and distilling them into simple, actionable advice to move businesses forward.

Connect with Matt on LinkedIn or contact Designers Up North.