If you want a new website – you will want to know how much it will cost. Before any estimates are given, most design agencies will ask for a project brief of time kind. The website brief is absolutely essential before beginning any project as it sets out the stepping stones for the entire creative process.
There is not an industry standard project brief as every agency may work differently, for example some may focus more on how the business and their values will be portrayed, other agencies may want explicit detail on exactly what does what on the proposed website.
While it can be difficult to judge how much detail should be provided in a project brief, we have put together 13 steps to help you put together a great project brief that will help you and your agency save time in the long run.
Here are the 13 points any great website brief should include:
1. About Your Business
Company information is often left out of website briefs despite it being a crucial part of any website brief. Certain details about your Company can have a huge impact on the way the end product (the Website) turns out. It is essential that you describe your brand and your company ethos, how do you want to be portrayed to your customers?
Furthermore, plans for future growth should be included.
2. Target Audience & Users
Your target audience and your users are the people who you are trying to sell your products or services to. When writing your Project brief, describe what your ideal client looks like. This will ensure that your new website is optimised for your target users.
This section can be expanded upon further to include market research from existing customers such as what are your typical customers looking for, what do they want to see?
3. Goals of the New Site
What are you aiming to achieve with your new website? Below are some of the typical answers:
- Increase brand awareness.
- Improve online presence.
- Increase online exposure through natural and paid listings.
- Increase sales.
- Generate leads and enquiries.
- Improved source of information through e-learning or blogs.
- Bespoke requirements for clients i.e. bespoke platforms or services.
If you have an existing website, include a section about what you like and don’t like, what you think works etc.
4. Competitors or Sites You Like
When writing your project brief, don’t forget to include a list of your competitors and also other websites that you like. This will give the design agency you are working with a good idea of what you are looking for.
5. Look & Feel
After looking at your competitors, if at all possible try and describe the ‘look & feel’ you would like to go for, we understand that not everyone can visualise exactly what they are looking for, but even the simplest suggestions can go a long way.
6. Technical Features & Requirements
This section is very important and must be included in the project brief, especially for larger projects. In order to avoid unexpected additional costs it is important to lay out all your feature and functionality requirements in this section in as much detail as possible.
- Does the site need to feature user logins? i.e An eCommerce website where a User can login to view their basket.
- Will products be sold on the site? If so, describe the product categories and variations, what payment methods (we recommend Stripe) you plan on using, discount codes, delivery costs etc.
- API Integration – Will your site feature any third party integration, i.e. a Financial advisory website that integrates a insurance comparison search bar from another company.
- Government / Established institutions may have certain guidelines for development – these need to be given up front.
Also list the general features that you’d like to have on the website such as:
- News / Blog
- Social Media Feeds
- Discussion Forum
- Interactive Map
- Events Section
- Online Bookings
- Portfolio Section
- Team Page
7. In-house requirements
Don’t forget to include details on how the site will be managed on a day-to-day basis once it is live. How regularly will it be updated with new content, will any kind of analytics such as Google Analytics be required?
Content is another essential component of the website design & development process. Will you be providing the content for the website or would you like the design agency to find a copy writer to write the content for you?
Content delivery is often the number one cause for delay in the website development process as sites can often sit there waiting to launch delayed purely by lack of content. This can be avoided by planning ahead.
The same goes for Photography, will you be providing photography or do you need photos to be sourced from stock libraries.
Lastly do not forget to provide your Logo files, files ending in .ai, .eps or .svg are the ideal file types but high resolution .png may also be acceptable.
9. Hosting, support & maintenance
Of course your website needs to be hosted somewhere once it’s completed. It is important to clarify if you already have existing hosting, or you are happy to move your hosting to the agency building the site. The same goes for site maintenance, do you have a current plan or are you looking for a plan for your new site?
Website hosting should be supplemented by regular maintenance, security checkups and weekly backups to ensure that any unexpected issues can be resolved immediately.
10. Online marketing & SEO
You have your brand new website online, but you aren’t getting any traffic, why is this? Digitial marketing is vital to the success of your new website, if you already have marketing plans in place please ensure to include them in the brief.
A new website can often be a big investment for your company, so there is nothing worse than not driving traffic to your website through methods such as SEO (Search engine optimisation), pay-per-click, social media & email marketing.
Of course with every project comes a deadline, if you need your new website by a certain date, it is essential that this is stated from the beginning so this can be accounted for in the project timeline and the budget.
12. Measuring your success
Not something that needs to feature in a project brief, but certainly something to keep in mind. How will you measure the success of your new site, do you have records of the traffic / number of enquires your current website is bringing in and will you be able to compare those with the results from your new site.
With every project comes the budget, what is the amount you have budgeted for your new website? Is all the features and functionality you have requested within your budget range? That will be determined from the project brief.
Many people don’t understand digital agency costs, if your budget is only a few hundred euros then it may be better to look into DIY website builders such as WIX. Remember that you’re not only paying for a product (the website) but also a service that includes consultation, research, user experience planning and strategy.
Specifying your budget in your brief is essential so that the agency can determine what is possible within the budget and what is not. If all your requested features and functionality are out of your budget range this gives you the option to determine whether you’d like to allocate more budget to allow for a desired functionality or if you’d rather keep within the budget and leave certain features out.