How to write a winning website project brief for the perfect website developer

website developers - Sanders Design

As a professional web designer, I cannot overstate the importance of providing your website developer with a concise and comprehensive website project brief. But what exactly is a project brief, and what makes a good one?

You may be thinking of hiring a website developer to help you out. But how do you know which one is the right one for your needs? This blog post will show you what goes into writing an effective and winning brief that will help ensure your success with finding the perfect developer for your project.

What is a website developer project brief?

Whether you are a professional day trader or a hobby crafter, a quality brief provides the framework that guides the website creation process. In short, your project brief is your list of requirements for the job.

How should a website project brief be written?

Your project brief should be written just like any other business proposal – direct and to the point. As a business document, your proposal should also be written with a business or business-casual tone depending on your relationship with your website developer.

Why do you need a website project brief?

A project brief is about more than just creating a reference for your website developer. Your brief is also intended to save you time. By providing your website designer with all of the information needed to build your site, they won’t need to chase you or hound you for information.

A good project brief also helps to make sure that your new design measures up to your expectations and includes everything you want to be incorporated into the site.

Let’s take a look at the points in detail.

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1. What is your company’s mission?

The first section of your brief will cover the more general information that your website developer needs to know. Most importantly, who are you?

How Can Your Website Developer Contact You?

  • What is your contact phone number, email address, Skype ID? Which of these methods is best for contacting you at specific times? Which contact method is the most reliable for getting in touch with you.
  • Who is the main point of contact for any website design questions that arise? A main point of contact eliminates confusion caused by miscommunication between multiple parties.
  • What is the contact information for any other members of your company who are responsible for any deliverables your website design service may need? For example, if you have a copywriter, your designer may need to work with them directly to get website copy just right.

What is your company name? 

  • Your website developer likely already knows your company name, but what is behind that name? For example, is the company name a “mashup” of two phrases or two relevant words?
  • Do you go by your full company name, or do customers refer to you as something else? For example, “Smith and Son’s Family Furniture Business” may simply be referred to as “Smith and Sons.”

When did your company startup, and why did it startup?

  • Are you a new company or an established company?
  • Have you recently rebranded or reinvented yourself? If so, why?
  • What is your mission statement?

What does your company do? 

  • Do you sell products or provide services?
  • Do you have multiple services or products? If so, is there a “flagship” product or a product that should receive more of an emphasis?
  • What is your product and what does it do?
  • What is your service and why is it important?
  • What makes your product or service valuable to customers? What do your customers “get” from your product or service?
  • How do you stand out from your competitors?

This information is particularly important because it is what will give your new site design a personalised feel rather than a sterile cookie-cutter appearance.

What type of presence does your company have currently?

  • Are you a well-known brand or company currently?
  • Do you have a loyal customer base already?
  • Do you focus more on social media interaction?
  • What tone does your company take when interacting with customers and potential customers? Your designer will want to continue this tone through the design of your new site.

The more specific the information you can give your designer, the better they can know your company. This knowledge will reflect just how personalised your new site design is. For example, if you fail to answer half of the questions below, you are forcing your designer to chase you down for information and if you aren’t available, they will have to guess as to how you want your company portrayed.

You are the expert on your company, your website designer is not!

2. Who is your website audience?

What do your Google analytics or stats tell you about the current audience of your website?

  • Why are your website visitors coming to your site? Are they finding you through a search engine or links from other websites? Knowing what your site visitors are looking for will help your designer to highlight key aspects of your company so that site visitors are satisfied as soon as they get to your site.
  • How are visitors getting to your website? Are the majority of your site visitors using mobile devices or desktop devices? Your designer should always optimize your website for mobile and desktop use, but one may be of more importance depending on how the majority of web traffic finds your site.
  • If you have a large percentage of traffic from other countries, do you need to cater to that traffic with a translation feature on your website? If you get clients from all over the world, it helps to have a translation feature build directly into your website so that clients get a more friendly welcome when they visit you online.
  • What age group does your website cater to at the moment, according to your analytics? Is this the age group that you want to be catering to? For example, if you run an educational website for children, you hardly want a professional minimalist design! You want a design that appeals to children.
  • Do more men or women visit your website? Do you intend to cater to one gender in particular? If not, and your current website traffic doesn’t reflect this, what would you like to see changed?
  • What do current website visitors do when they get to your site? Are your current site visitors going to a specific page of your site? Are your site visitors leaving your site as soon as they arrive?

The more information that you can give your website developer about your audience, the more targeted your website design will be. For example, if most of your website visitors are women, you want a design created with women in mind.

The more information you can share about your average website visitor with your design service, the more specific your design can be catered to your audience.

What does it mean to you to have a website created specifically for your audience? It means your site will be more appealing to potential customers. It means that existing customers will stay on your website for longer. It means that you are more likely to sell products and services.

3. Who are your business competitors?

  • Who are your direct competitors locally and globally?
  • How do your competitors’ websites compare to your own? Do they have any features that you would like your website developer to include in your new site design?
  • Where do you feel your competitors are besting your company?
  • Where do you feel that your company bests its competitors?

By providing information on your competitors to your website developer, you give them resources to research your industry. Your designer can look at your competitors’ websites and determine what those sites have in common – where they are strongest and where they are weakest. Using this information, your website developer can create the best user experience for your website visitors.

4. What are you trying to achieve with your new website?

What Do You Hope to Achieve With Your New Website?

  • What are your company’s long-term goals? Knowing this will help your designer to create a website that reflects your long-term goals.
  • Are you looking to reinvent your company? Your designer needs to know if you are looking for a complete site overhaul or if you are just looking for a new look.
  • Are you revamping your site before a big digital marketing campaign? If so, providing your designer with details of this campaign can help to tie your relaunch into the marketing campaign you have planned.
  • Do you need to change how the public perceives your company? How you approach your audience is crucial, even the colours you use in your website design can influence how your website is received. So, if you have a poor reputation with customers at the moment, you want to create a design that instils more confidence in your company!
  • Do you need better search engine optimization? Are you revamping your website so that you can implement better search optimization techniques?
  • Do you need a better content management system? Moving from one content management system to another is something your designer needs to know ahead of time so that they can plan to incorporate certain elements into your new design.
  • What message do you want your company to convey? Do you want your website to give a homely feel? Do you want to come across as authoritative?

What do you hope your company to become?

  • What are your long-term goals?
  • What are your short-term goals?

What Obstacles Do You Face?

  • What do you believe is stopping your company from success at the moment?
  • What has prevented you from redesigning your website until now?

Knowing what you hope to gain from your new website will help your web developer create a website that helps you achieve that goal. For example, if you are trying to reinvent your company, you would want a website design that differs drastically from the design you have.

5. How do you feel about your current website?

How Does Your Current Website Make You Feel?

  • What do you like about your current website?
  • What do you dislike about your current website?
  • Does your current design reflect the attitude of your company and effectively convey your message? If not, where do you feel it goes wrong?

Telling your website developer what you like and dislike about your site will help them create a new design that includes the features you like and improve on those you don’t. The result will be a website that you love!

6. How would you like to see your current web design changed?

  • Are you looking for a complete website overhaul?
  • Do you love your current website but want to see some minor layout changes?
  • Do you feel that the fonts and colour scheme of your current website doesn’t match your company? If so, what colour scheme would you prefer?
  • Do you like the way your website is currently laid out? If not, why? What would you like to see done differently?
  • Do you like the navigation system on your site? If not, what would you like to see done differently?
  • Is there something that you would like to see added to your website design?
  • Is there something that you definitely do not want to add to your website
  • What are some examples of website designs that you like? What do you like about them?
  • What are some examples of website designs that you dislike? What do you dislike about them?
  • Do you have a mockup or “brainstorm” of ideas for your new site design?

Telling your designer what you like and dislike about your current site will help them to make changes if you want to keep your original website design. If you want a brand new website design, this information will help your designer avoid the elements of your current design that you dislike and include those you want to keep.

7. What features would you like incorporated into your new site design?

  • Do you have your own images you want to be included in your site design or do you require licensed stock photography?
  • Do you have your website copy prepared?
  • Does your site need a member login feature?
  • Do you want to include a translation feature?
  • Is your website an eCommerce site? If not, do you need eCommerce functionality added to your site?
  • Do you have any APIs that need incorporating into your site?
  • Do you have any other media that needs incorporating into your new design? For example, an intro video?
  • What pages do you want to be incorporated into your site? Do these pages already exist or do you need pages adding?
  • Do any forms need incorporating into your site?
  • Do you have a newsletter script you want including in your design? For example, MailChimp.
  • Do you need a map feature incorporating into your new design?
  • Do you need a booking feature added to your site?
  • If your website is a new site, what pages and features would you like incorporated?
  • What is your call to action?

If you have new features that you would like to be incorporated into your website, you need to tell your designer so that they can incorporate them.

8. What is your website project timeline?

  • Do you have a deadline for the delivery of your website design?
  • Do you have any milestone deadlines for website deliverables?
  • Do you have a specific date that you need your website to be online?

Knowing when you need your website delivered will help your website developer to establish their timeline. By budgeting time this way, website development companies can designate more time to tasks that need it while staying on track for on-time delivery. 

9. What technical details does your website developer need to know?

  • Do you already have a host for your website?
  • What are the details of your hosting package?

Knowing the details of your hosting package will help your designer to determine how to optimize elements of your site and how certain elements of the site need to be served for the best site performance. Failure to optimize elements will result in a very slow loading website and very unhappy customers!

10. Do you have any special needs for your website?

  • Are there any specific regulations that need to be followed? For example, is there a particular requirement of size for your logo or a specific hex code for colours?
  • Does your website need to integrate with a third-party system? If so, what is that third party system?
  • If you do need eCommerce built into your site, do you ship to all countries?
  • Do you require ongoing maintenance?

This is the “nitty-gritty” of your new site design and often includes some of the most important information about your project. With this information, your designer can ensure that your site fully meets your needs and the needs of your clients.

11. What is your website project budget?

  • Do you have a budget range?
  • What does your budget range include?
  • Do you have a budget for maintenance services?

Your web developers need to know your budget, but if you’re like most people, you are reluctant to share that information. Many people assume that when a designer asks for your budget, they are trying to find out just how much they can charge you for their services. This is not true for a reputable design and web development company.

Reputable web developers ask about your budget because it plays an essential part in planning and executing your site design. For example, if you have a £2500 budget, but the specific type of design you are looking for is £5000, this is something that you both need to be aware of upfront. Not discussing the budget ahead of time is a big mistake that can cause a very uncomfortable situation for everyone.

The best way to approach this situation is to provide your website developer with your ballpark budget. With this information, your designer can work with you to develop a website that meets your needs and stays within your budget range. And if like in the example I mentioned above, you are asking for too much compared to your budget; your designer can help you determine how you can reduce your expense while still getting the most out of your new design.

12. Your website design brief keeps your project orderly

Having a well thought out and thorough website design brief keeps every step of your project orderly.

While a good design brief may take a while to complete, that time is well spent because, without it, you will find yourself fielding emails and phone calls from your design team as they try to create your project with no guidance. Worse still, once the project is complete, you will more than likely end up with a website that is not at all what you were hoping for.

Put the time in, create a thorough brief, and you will be rewarded with a website that’s on point and a fantastic response from your website audience.

Web designer and website developers discuss project

Conclusion

Your website is the face of your business to potential customers. When it comes time for you to build a new site, don’t let anything hold you back from an amazing project. You can choose exactly what goes on the site by creating all sorts of innovative features like responsive layouts and embedded video that will attract more visitors and leave them satisfied with their experience. Talk to us today about how we can help make this happen for your company.