Are you starting a new design project? Then our today’s article is for you.
Before starting any design project, the client and the designers usually create a design brief to better understand the scope of the project. It might seem an unnecessary waste of time, but design briefs are actually essential for the successful completion of the project.
The design brief sets the foundation for the project and provides a roadmap for the designer to follow. A well-written design brief ensures that the final product meets the client’s expectations and achieves the project’s objectives.
In this article, we’re going to talk about design briefs and how to create a powerful design brief in 2023.
What is a Design Brief?
A design brief is a document that outlines the details, objectives and all specifics of a design project. A well-written design can help both the designer and the client reach their desired goals for each project. It also helps with the management of the design project. Every party should know the exact deadlines, project scope and budget of every deliverable to ensure they both are satisfied.
A design brief is usually written by the client, but designers can also take part in it so that they ensure the client includes all the necessary details about the project.
You may also have heard about a creative brief, which can be very similar to a design brief. Though, these two are not the same. A design brief mostly handles the business and management side of the project, while a creative brief is more about the creative, artistic approach.
A creative brief is written after the design brief is ready. Creative brief dives deeper into the target audience and company to understand it better and give reasoning to the chosen artistic and creative direction.
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Why do You Need a Design Brief?
Another important question is why you need a design brief. Of course, there are a lot of things considered in terms of budget and timeline, but it all can be discussed with the designer, and the design brief may not seem necessary in this case.
So why do designers still need it?
Firstly, a design brief is necessary for understanding the details about the company, its target audience and the project overall. It can help designers to clearly understand which direction they should choose to execute the project.
Then, it also helps both parties to set realistic deadlines and goals to cooperate successfully. Without a powerful design brief, designers may have lots of questions when executing the project, or in the worst-case scenario, the client won’t be satisfied with the final result.
So a design brief helps to:
- Understand the scope of the project
- Set realistic deadlines and budget
- Get insight into the brand, its industry and its target audience
- Involve the client more in the project
- Set a standard for the quality of every deliverable
How to Create a Design Brief
There are no general rules in creating a design brief; each client and designer can set their individual points to be included in the brief. Though, there are some points that are crucial to include in a brief.
And we are going to talk about these important points and describe step by step how to create a powerful design brief.
Step 1: Define Your Goals
The first step in writing a powerful design brief is to understand your objectives. Before starting any design project, it is essential to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve with the design project.
To define your objectives, consider the following:
- What do you want the design to accomplish? Is it to increase brand awareness, drive new leads and conversions, or educate your audience?
- Describe your target audience: who are they, and what are their needs and preferences?
- What key messages do you want to convey through the design?
- What are the specific deliverables and outcomes you expect from the project?
By defining your objectives, you will be able to communicate your expectations clearly to the designer and ensure that the final design meets your goals.
Step 2: Research Your Target Audience
The second step in writing a design brief is to identify your target audience. Understanding your audience’s needs, preferences, and behaviours is crucial to creating a design that resonates with them.
To better understand the needs of your audience, answer the following questions:
- Demographics: What is their age, gender, income level, education, and occupation?
- Psychographics: What are their interests, values, attitudes, and lifestyles?
- Behaviours: How do they interact with your brand? What channels do they use to access information and make purchase decisions?
The more you know your target audience, the better you will be able to create a design that speaks to their needs and preferences and resonates with them on a deeper level. If you’re sure you know everything about your audience, you can skip this step, but if you have some doubts or haven’t updated your buyer persona profile, it’s better to do some research.
Step 3: Research Your Competition
Besides researching your target audience, you need to analyse your competitors too. Understanding your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, and design strategies is essential to creating a design that sets you apart from the crowd.
So, analyse their branding, online presence, and design strategies: What colours, fonts, imagery, and messaging do they use? How do they present themselves online? What features do they offer that you can improve upon?
Also, don’t forget to analyse their interaction with their audience: What are their customers saying about them? What complaints or criticisms do they have that you can address in your design?
All this information can help you differentiate yourself from your competitors and understand what kind of design will make your brand different.
Step 4: Outline the Scope of Work
Next, you need to understand the scope of work. What do you want specifically, and what designs do you want the designer to create? Are they logos, brochures, social media posts, or website designs? Defining the project’s deliverables, requirements, and guidelines is crucial to ensuring that the designer has a clear understanding of what is expected of them.
Think about the guidelines and standards that the designer should follow in creating the design. This step is particularly important if you have specific requirements for your design, such as compliance with industry regulations or adherence to brand guidelines.
If you have brand guidelines, make sure to share them with the designer so that they can better understand your brand and your industry.
Basically, during this step, you need to specify all the design and technical requirements so that the designer working on the project can create an output that will correspond to all your desired standards.
Step 5: Determine Your Budget and Timeline
The fourth step in writing a design brief is to determine your budget and timeline. This is very crucial, as behind every successful design project are clearly defined deadlines and budgets that ensure that the project is completed within your expectations and resources.
Define your budget: How much are you willing to spend on the project? Consider the design’s complexity, the designer’s expertise, and the project’s scope. Then think about the timeline, deadlines and when you plan to publish the designs. You can coordinate this process with the designer or designers you’re going to work with to set a more realistic budget and timelines.
Always try to think strategically, as some design projects can take months to be completed. So, the earlier you start thinking about your next project and starting it, the more time the designers will have to work on the project and create a better outcome.
Step 6: Include Some Design Examples and Inspirations
When writing a brief or planning a new project, business owners would usually think only about their project specifically and provide strictly project-related information to designers. But besides that, it’s also important to provide some design examples and inspiration. Research similar design projects, see what you like more, and include some of your favourite examples in the brief. They will help the designers to better understand what you expect from the project to create designs that will exceed your expectations.
Design examples do not include only examples of similar projects; they can be colour schemes, typography, textures, patterns, themes, or ideas.
Step 7: Describe Your Brand Identity
In order for designers to better understand your brand, it’s not enough to include information about your target audience or competition; you need to communicate your brand identity.
What are the beliefs and principles that your brand upholds, such as sustainability, diversity, or quality? What tone and style does your brand use to communicate with its audience, such as formal, conversational, or humorous?
All these questions can help you better communicate the idea behind your brand and show designers who are going to work on your project what the essence of your brand is.
Step 8: Set Expectations for Feedback and Revisions
The eighth step in writing a design brief is to set expectations for feedback and revisions. Clarifying how the designer can expect feedback and how many revisions are included in the project is essential to ensuring that the design meets your expectations.
This part is generally decided by both the client and the designer. If you’re going to work with an experienced specialist or a design agency, they would usually offer you a certain round of edits, whether it’s one, two or even three. Of course, depending on the project, they may make exceptions, but usually, designers have their terms. So make sure you both have the same expectations regarding the number of edits.
Also, define the feedback process: How will the designer receive feedback? Will it be through email, phone calls, or in-person meetings?
You need to discuss all these technical details and make sure you are both looking for the same thing; otherwise, you may not receive the results that you expected in the first place.
Step 9: Review and Finalize the Design Brief
The final step is to review and finalise the document. It is essential to review the brief carefully and ensure that it contains all the necessary information and details.
Check whether you included all the necessary information and discuss with the designer or designers what additional details you need to include in the brief. Make sure to proofread the document before sending it and save it in a format that is easy to share and distribute, such as PDF or Word.
This is all about writing a powerful design brief. By following the nine essential steps outlined in this article, you will be able to create a design brief that communicates your vision, preferences, and expectations to the designer and guides them in their creative process.
Remember that there is no one correct form of the design brief; every designer and every client has their project specifications, which can influence the form of the brief. You can always discuss with the designer what to include in the brief to make sure they know every detail of the project.
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What is a design brief?
A design brief is a document that outlines the details, objectives and all specifics of a design project. It helps the designer and the client set clear expectations for a project and create better-quality designs.
What is the difference between a design brief and a creative brief?
A design brief mostly handles the business and management side of the project, while a creative brief is more about the creative, artistic approach. A design brief includes information about deadlines and the budget of a project, so it’s more technical. In contrast, a creative brief focuses on design choices and artistic direction.
How long should a design brief be?
A design brief should be 1-2 pages long. It’s not necessary to write a long document and describe everything in detail. It should simply clarify the goals of the project and help the designer understand the task better.