If you’re looking to update your current website or create a brand new one, then you are most likely looking for an idea of how much you’ll be spending. It makes sense to ask around for quotes to explore your options and to get an idea for timelines, however, to do so most web design agencies will need to see your website brief.
We have created this guide and free template for you to download that will help you and your chosen agency create a brief to get the most out of your project. The brief can be used as a tool to manage your project down the line and ensure that all of your expectations as a client are met.
What is a website brief?
A website brief is the very first part of your journey and is an essential starting point for your project. Its purpose is to provide the team or individual working on your project with an overview of your business and the requirements of your project. It’s important to identify any obstacles that may occur early on, as well as clarify the deliverables and outcome of the project. By doing so, you can work out whether that particular agency is the right fit for your project. The brief should also give both parties an idea of the cost of the project and the timeline so there are no surprises down the line.
Creating a website brief is the best way to communicate your initial ideas. It means that everyone is aligned and agrees on what needs to be achieved. It’s not a test and we aren’t expecting it to be picture-perfect — it’s something we can help you with and build upon.
Who should create the website brief?
A website brief is usually created by a project manager, business owner or member of the marketing team before reaching out to their chosen agencies, with the hope of receiving a quote. However, in most cases, the client does not know the exact details of everything they are looking for, which is where a brief template can be used.
We have included a free copy of our template for you to download here!
Read on for some helpful points to include in your brief to guide you and your chosen agency.
How to create a website brief
An effective website brief will be concise and clear for everyone involved to understand including board level or business owners, through to internal project management and marketing teams and the agency you chose to work with.
We have included 10 key sections for you to add to your brief to get the most out of your project.
1. Getting to know your business
We want to know everything about you and your team. Tell us about your business... Who you are, what you do, what your product/service is for.
It’s also handy to know when you were founded, where you operate from, and what sort of company ethos you have. Is there anything that represents your brand that you think we should know about? What is the core communication you want your website to deliver?
Some examples could be:
- We hold a leading position in the market for [X]
- We offer thought leadership in the domains of [X] and [Y]
- We have an international team of [X] in [Y]
- We are proficient experts in the technical field of [X]
- We possess extensive experience in guiding clients on all aspects of [X]
- We are planning on growing our [X] in the next 6 months
At this point, you could also decide who from your business will be the first point of contact throughout the project. An agency will most likely have a Project Manager they will introduce you to so you know where to direct questions. When you are working on an important project like a website it’s important to form relationships with your dedicated team!
2. Your industry and competitors
What is this process really all about? At the root of it, it’s about your customers.
Everything that is designed, developed and optimised has your target market at its core; that means understanding the industry you operate in, the competitors you’re up against, and what appeals to customers so they pick your products and services every time. How do you want to stand out in the crowd? If you have any previous research or insights into your audience and their demographics, it would be great to pass this over!
This can be research into current audiences, or the ones you want to tap into in the future. We recommend exploring your audience’s -
- Challenges - Describe their pain points and the problems they face (if your competitors have failed to address these that gives you an opportunity to solve them in your design)
- Demographics - Include their age range, gender, income, and occupation. This will enable you to tap into the right audience in both the design and content of your website
- Interests - Talk about their lifestyle, preferences, and hobbies
3. Project Overview
Next, you should define the project, why you are doing it and the overarching sentiment you want to deliver. This will help to ensure all of the deliverables are met from the beginning.
Some examples of this include:
- Is the project a completely new website built from scratch, or is it a redesign of a current website?
- Will the project follow existing branding, or will this be created? If so, is somebody working on this? When will it be complete?
- How involved do you want to be involved in the design process?
- Has the content for the website already been confirmed?
- Are there any obstacles that may arise?
Even if you don’t use your current website right now, it’s useful for your chosen partner to see. If it’s one of the things your customers know you for, you may want certain aspects to transition into your new website. Similarly, you should consider the aspects of your current website that you’re not as happy with.
Your dedicated team will get an idea of what you need by looking at your website content and analysing your competitors. They can make recommendations and help you visualise the potential of your new website.
4. Project goals
Like any project, there will most likely be goals you wish for the website to achieve. These goals should be communicated to the team working on the project so that they can ensure they are met, and that the outcome of the project is centred around what is most important to the client.
Some examples of project goals could include:
- Modernise website
- Add additional functionality or migrate CMS
- Increase the number of leads or enquiries generated through the website
- Have a blog that can be regularly updated
Some of the goals may require additional set-up fees or services, such as conversion rate optimisation tools or SEO audits, which is why it’s important to communicate your budget from the get-go to ensure there are no surprises down the line!
5. Pages and site structure
As well as an overview of your project and goals, you should provide information on the amount of pages you require for your website. A well-planned website structure ensures a smooth visitor experience, as it should consider easy-to-follow pathways for visitors. To build a good website structure you should research your competitors and analyse what they do well and what they could improve on. Use this information to build your ideal structure.
Write down the key pages your website should include:
Below is a typical example:
- About us
- Product or Service landing page
- Contact us
This will help determine the price and timeline of your project. As well as this, it would be useful to list the general sections of the site that will be required, for example; a meet the team section. If you are building an eCommerce website, your site structure and pages will be slightly different and will most likely follow a hierarchical structure of collections, categories, sub categories and products. Your homepage will be at the top of the hierarchy and will filter down to the “pyramid” of pages.
You should also consider legal and policy pages to disclose important information about your website's policies. By doing so you will guarantee compliance with legal regulations and protect your intellectual property. Don’t worry too much about these though, as the content for these pages can be lengthy and don’t need to be done ahead of time, just ahead of launch. We provide basic legal and contact pages to our clients free of charge.
6. Design requirements/ look and feel
In order to get an idea of what type of website you are looking for you should share website links of any websites you like (or don’t like) this can be the general look and feel or specific elements on the site. The agency you are working with will most likely conduct discovery sessions where you can explore these further, however, it’s great to get an initial idea so they can begin looking for ideas to present to you. Here is a great example:
“We would like our website to follow a similar theme to the Influx website, however, we are looking to use a neutral colour palette for a clean, modern look. We like the use of the 50:50 split and are looking to replicate this on our site. We want to keep the look and feel very corporate to appeal to our audience, and would also like to use custom lottie animations.”
You can also include your brand guidelines, style guide, colour palette and desired use of the colours. This will save you from having to make changes to these down the line and help you keep your branding consistent across the designs. If you do not currently have branding, you should communicate this with your chosen agency, as they may have an internal branding team or trusted partners they can recommend for you.
7. Technical requirements
As well as design elements, you should be aware of the technical systems you’re looking to add to your website. Some examples may include:
- Are there any systems, databases or functions that are critical to your business? Think accessibility, APIs, payment functionality etc.
- Are you a restaurant that wants customers to be able to book a table through your website?
- Do you take online payments such as PayPal or Apple Pay?
- An estate agent that needs a mortgage rate calculator?
All of these would need to be integrated into your new website! Some of these technical requirements can be decided when mapping out the content of each page of your website, for example, you may wish to integrate a map on your contact page to enable visitors to locate your office/premises.
There may be some non-negotiables when it comes to the technical requirements of your website. Your website should feature a mobile responsive design, ensuring optimal display across different devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop screens. This is crucial in providing a seamless user experience for all visitors.
Additionally, an SSL certificate should be a non-negotiable. This certificate authenticates the website's identity and establishes an encrypted connection between the web server and the user's browser, ensuring the security of all transmitted data. Having an SSL certificate and following the HTTPS protocol can positively impact the website's search ranking, making it an essential component for both security and in recent years, SEO considerations. This can be communicated with your chosen agency to ensure they meet the requirements of your project.
8. Hosting, maintenance and domain name
Your domain name is the unique address for your website, displayed at the top of your internet browser in the address bar. You will need a domain name when building your website, you may already have one or your agency can help you with this.
Every site needs to be hosted somewhere, and choosing where to host your website is a decision that impacts your site's performance, security, and scalability. Agencies will often handle this for you, as specialists in the industry, they will have a better understanding of the options available to consider. We will communicate the different hosting options and recommendations based on the most suitable options at the beginning of a project. These can often be updated, scaled up and scaled back if needed.
If you have alternate arrangements or a preference for hosting then you should communicate these with the agency you are working with.
Here are some of the options we provide to our clients when choosing how to host and maintain their website:
- Basic hosting and SSL - we will host your site and ensure data shared between web servers and web browsers remains private.
- Hosting and maintenance - we will host your site and complete maintenance to remove bugs, resolve problems and perform updates.
- Hosting, maintenance and content management - we will host, provide support and maintenance and look after all the content on your site, including uploading new copy, content and images.
- Our Digital Support Package includes all of the above hosting, maintenance and content management plus our three pillars of design, development and digital marketing. To learn more about a package crafted specifically for your business visit our Digital Support Package page or contact one of the team today.
Depending on what your website is built with there will be multiple options, however, these will be communicated to you by your chosen agency.
9. Timeline and budget
You might not know exactly what budget you have available at the very start, and that’s okay. If you provide a ballpark figure or range, such as between £5,000-£10,000, the project can be centred around creating the best possible outcome for your budget. If you have a smaller budget, your project may be more basic and rely on templates for some aspects of the design, whereas with a larger budget, there is more room to explore custom animations, complex designs and custom-built solutions.
A website project can vary in price depending on many factors. Sometimes the most suitable option for a business with a smaller budget could be a DIY website builder, or a solution by our friends over at Foundation who provide pay-monthly websites from £1 a day.
The same applies to timelines. If you have a date in mind for when you want to finish the project this can be factored in. Perhaps you want to be ready for a new quarter, or an event or want to line it up with the launch of other campaigns. Having a date in mind can also help your internal team by allowing you to prepare what’s needed on your side. This could include the written content for your website, scheduling professional images or videos, populating your new site, bug testing etc. Below is a typical example of a project timeline we use when onboarding our clients, however, this will vary across agencies.
10. Additional services
Looking to increase your number of leads each month? Once you have completed your brand-new website, you may want to explore the options of lead generation services. You should enquire about your options with your chosen agency, as they may implement the set-up of other services whilst in the design and development stage of your website.
Additional services could include monthly development changes, graphic design or print services, or various digital marketing services such as SEO, PPC or Social Media Marketing. Many digital agencies will provide monthly packages to suit your needs, so it is best to enquire about these and be prepared.
Our website design brief
Now that we have covered all bases for the brief, you can begin creating yours. As a thank you for reading, we have attached our very own downloadable design brief template we use when onboarding new clients - feel free to fill it out and send it our way… that would be cool!
If you need help at any stage of your web design process then reach out to our team. We have worked on a whole range of projects and would love to work with you and your business on your next project.