Create a killer web design brief

In this article, I am going to take a look through what you should include in a killer brief for a digital agency. Getting this right up front will pave the way for a coherent production and long term success.

Create a killer web design brief

In this article, I am going to take a look through a few things you should include in a killer brief for a digital agency. Getting this right up front will pave the way for a coherent production and long term success.

So, you've been through our guide to whether you need a new website, and you've decided that now is the time to get it updated and back to looking its best. You've surfed the internet and pulled in your contacts and put together a list of agencies you would like to work with. You've taken a look at their portfolios and you like what you see, and you have read about how they can turn your website into a hard working business tool (if you haven't, you might be spending a lot of money on something that looks pretty but doesn't really do very much!).


Now is your chance to make sure the process will be a smooth one, and the direction of the project gets off to the best possible start. There isn't necessarily a right or wrong way to put a brief together and we would cover off a lot of these points in the initial phases of our projects, but addressing the points below will ensure everyone kicks off the project on the same wavelength.


One of the most important aspects of your brief is the budget you have available to spend on the project. There is little to be gained by keeping your cards close to your chest. We set out to maximise the return on this initial investment and show you how and where your money will be spent, going so far as to tailor the work we do, to the amount you want to spend. Even if you don't have a specific budget in mind, a ball park figure will give a good indication of what you want to achieve. Importantly though, being honest and open up front with this (as well as the document as a whole), will allow you to see exactly what you are going to get with your money, allowing a far better comparison between the agencies you brief.


What are your expectations for delivery of the project? Equally, what resources have you allowed to facilitate delivery of the project. Websites are a collaborative effort from all sides, and one of the major time killers during projects is the content for the site. It's worth noting that the site is nothing without the content, that's why the visitors are there in the first place! So, make sure you have the availability and resources to deliver your responsibilities within the project.

Further to this, letting us know your timings up front will help dictate what is possible within the given timeframe, and we can provide the best course of action for your requirements and budget.

Performance Measurement?

In short, why are you getting a new site? In asking that question though, we want to understand what the goal of the site is. What will be its measure of success? If you aren't setting out to achieve anything with the site, then it's nothing more than a pretty face that sits silently in the corner.

Remember that your website will be a business tool that drives growth. Do you want to show your authority within the industry you work in? Do you want to drive brand recognition? Do you want to increase e-commerce sales? It's important to remember why you are embarking on this journey, as this will help define each decision that is made through the process.

What do your visitors want from the site?

This is another point that is important for defining the direction of the project. We find that stakeholders invariably agree on whether their visitors like the website or not, whereas getting them to agree on whether they like it or not is a different matter!

It is of course important, to remember who the website is being built for. The end product is about the visitor to the site, their interaction with it, and what they are hoping to leave with. For example, if you list all of your products on your website, and despite a lot of visitors, no one is purchasing online, with a little research you could find out that they are looking for manuals or product support and provide this type of content for them.

What do your employees want from the site?

Sometimes it's great to look inwards rather than outwards. I mentioned above that the website is about driving company growth by generating and maintaining new business, but it can work the other way too. Are there processes within your company that could be made more efficiently by an online system, therefore saving you time and money?

Considering these points can turn a website into a powerful full-scale business tool from which you can manage any level of detail, while providing 24 hour visibility from anywhere.

Many years ago I helped put together a system for a wine merchant who up until then managed storage and process offline, but by bringing it all online and making the process more efficient, they were able to spend a far greater amount of time focussing on driving the business forward, and to great success. The comparative initial investment in the website has been hugely overshadowed by the money he was able to make in the new time he had available, and indeed in the quality of the records now being kept.

Other sites you like?

This point ties in nicely with the other points. It's not about sites that you find pretty, or that you like a particular animation (or indeed just a list of websites on a page), it's thinking about what the success criteria for your website is and what others do well in achieving this. Find what websites do well, perhaps presenting information, the fonts being used (if you don't already have specific brand guidelines), the layout of the site and how it works well to deliver the important content.

By all means list these, but ensure that you expand on why you have chosen them and we can begin to get some insight into how you are thinking about the project going forward.

What level of control will you require?

Again, this point ties into others above. The level of detail you require over the site will affect the time involved and putting the website together and in turn, the cost. It goes without saying that if you manage an e-commerce website, you will need to manage the products and categories on the site. However, if you manage a simple website on which you expect change to be less than one a month, is it worth investing your money in a content management system when it would be better invested in search marketing? We can help you answer these questions, but it's worth balancing what you require over what you think you need.


Hopefully these few pointers give you a better idea of the information a digital agency would like to receive and how you can get your project off to the best possible start. If you have any questions or comments, please send them through to us, or give us a shout on Twitter.