Web design has been a constant profession for many designers that have decided to get immersed in the creation of websites for all types of purposes. There have been ups and downs in the market when it comes to the demand for websites. But crucial changes have created a massive demand since the pandemic began. This is mainly due to the high influx of people who are jumping into the digital world.

Now that the need for websites has skyrocketed so abruptly, there is also going to be more competition that is aware of the value of web design and will start to offer this service. With that said, those who organized their strategies the right way are going to be more likely to achieve great results when they are looking to find new clients and start design projects.

Today, we are going to be talking about some of the most important steps that you need to take in order to create a proper website brief. This can be the part of the project that makes or breaks the deal. That is the main reason why you need to consider all the steps we’re about to mention before you start.

What exactly is a website design brief?

The design brief for a website project is basically going to outline the entire design process as well as the requirements of the design and the expected timeframe for every stage of the process.

This is also going to prove to be extremely important in the process of providing an estimate on the expenses while also making sure that the client has a clear idea of what to expect once they get their website and what kind of post-launch services you will offer.

Familiarize yourself with your client’s background

This will be an essential first step for you to make sure that you familiarize yourself with every aspect of your potential client’s background. It is important to note that most design briefs are created before any deals are closed. So you are going to have to invest time in learning about your client without expecting anything in return. Such is the case with every step of the design brief.

Once you have learned everything about the business, you can create a much better layout for your proposal. This is why it’s so important that you invest as much time as possible in this particular step.

Provide competitor research to create a more personalized proposal

This is going to be extremely important because it will let you see what the competition is doing and what kind of features you should be implementing to your client’s website. This research is going to make it much easier for you to build the rest of the proposal. This is an important step to take before you proceed with the rest.

See below for some websites we've designed and developed:

Create a project overview

Everything regarding the package you plan delivering to your client is going to need to be included in this overview. For starters, you need to define if you are going to be creating a new website from scratch or if you will be working on an existing design.

This is very important because an existing website is going to require that you familiarize yourself with the design layout and the kind of codes that have been used for this purpose. If you are starting a completely new website, you also need to establish if it will be designed on a content management system of any kind of with a specific type of code and structure.

Define the work that will be done in terms of branding

One thing is to design a website with an existing logo and an established brand, and another thing is to have to create that brand image. Many business owners will approach designers with an existing logo. They will ask them to build the website based on the logo style and color choices.

In other cases, they will require that a logo, general tone for the brand are created. It’s very important to establish if this is going to be necessary, as it will add extra hours of work.

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Define modules and special features

You need to define how many special features you are going to create for the website.

Some of the questions are going to be useful depending on the niche. Just ask the ones that are likely to be relevant to a specific client. 

1. How many details do you need to include in your contact form?

Some contact forms are very basic with 3 to 5 fields for basic information, but others can be a little more complex and this is why you need to make sure that this is clearly defined.

2. How many contact forms do you need?

Sometimes it’s not just about what the contact forms need, but how many of them will need to be incorporated into the site.

3. Do you need a calendar for booking?

Most business ventures that have any type of service that requires scheduling are going to need some kind of calendar booking system.

4. Do you need eCommerce to be implemented?

If eCommerce is required, you need to take certain things into consideration to see which platform will be used to install the online store.

5. Do you require SEO optimization to be conducted?

When you design a website and create the structure, there is a huge amount of search engine optimization that takes place within the website.

6. Do you need to set up a specific analytics service?

Most website owners are going to be ok with using Google Analytics. You need to define if you will include the service of setting this up for the website.

These are just some of the most basic questions that you should be asking when you start a new project. Once you get them out of the way, you can proceed to the next stage.

Searching illustration
Example by Aga Koniuszek

Define a clear goal

The client needs to let you know what the main goal of the website is going to be. For example, some people create a website just to ensure that their customers can have a digital address to find out more information about their business.

Some of the most common goals that people expect to meet with their website include:

  • an improved presence on the web
  • more subscribers and more sales
  • leads and more engagement in general
  • brand awareness

There are other goals that your client may propose. The ones that we listed above are the most common ones. The most common issue is that they feel their online presence is not good enough and that their target audience is now more likely to visit them through the use of the internet.

Define your involvement in content creation

Content is still king and there is a huge demand for the creation of quality content for websites. This means that it’s very likely that your client is going to ask you to create content for their website. This is not something that you usually do in the basic process of creating a website for a client.

Designing a site and creating its structure is entirely separate from the creation of the content for each section. For example, your client could request that you write their home page, about us, mission, vision, etc. This means that you should spend more time learning about the business and also identifying their target audience.

If the client is looking for a full SEO service, you are also going to have to propose blogging services. It is common as a post-launch service, but you should include in the brief as it will be a necessary addition if they wish to achieve any substantial progress with SEO.

Come up with the project schedule and timeframes

The timeframe in which you are going to be delivering the work is going to be very important. You need to clearly define this in order to avoid any issues with your client and their expectations.

For example, if a job requires half a month of work, you want to clarify this with your client. This type of misunderstanding can create serious friction with your clients. So be sure to state this as clearly as possible.

Define how much involvement the client is going to have in the design process

This is a very important thing to define because clients may want you to involve them in the design process. You may find yourself in a difficult situation due to setbacks caused by a client who constantly asks for changes.

The client that wants to be heavily involved is usually a more complicated client. So you should be very clear that the timeframes will also depend on how much the client wants to get done.

If the client leaves the entire process up to you, this is going to be much easier. But you still need to define a clear delivery timeframe so there will be no issues with what they expect. The most common thing to see is a client that is not going to be too involved, but may have some ideas to share in terms of the design and structure.

Set a clear budget and break it down into sections

There should be a budget that is clearly explaining in several sections so that the client can easily understand what and why you are charging x amount of money. This is going to be extremely important for you to be able to negotiate the design process and to be the one that lands the job.

Keep in mind that the pricing is going to be a huge factor when it comes to your client’s decisions. So make sure that you are providing a price range that is competitive. The competition is fierce. It is a good idea to avoid going too high with the prices, while also avoiding selling yourself short.

Budgeting Web design
Example by Ann Ne for STFN

Discuss website hosting management options

If your client is not interested in being involved in any aspect of managing the website, you are going to have to include hosting management as part of your proposal. This includes; paying for the hosting, updating the payment plans, configuring the server based on the needs of the client’s website, etc.

Some website requirements are going to be much more demanding than others, so it’s important that a good hosting plan is selected to ensure that it’ll be ideal for the type of website you are going to design and develop for this client.

Discuss general website maintenance and updates

Once you launch the site, you need to decide if you will be providing all the extra content for the site as well as the management. If this is the case, the most common thing to do is to create a retainer with the client.

This is a good strategy that is beneficial for both parties as long as the business relationship is providing results.

Final thoughts

A good design brief is essential to set your website up for success. The client can jump into the project confident that their vision and business goals are understood and see the plan on how they will be met. The design and/or development agency can also be confident that the client understands their working process and has realistic expectations of the final result.

General FAQ

What is a website design brief?

The design brief for a website project is basically going to outline the entire design process as well as the requirements of the design and the expected timeframe for every stage of the process.

How do you create a website design brief?

You should approach the creation of a website design brief clearly and methodically. You should not leave any potential for misinterpretation, as this will cost all parties time and money. The 11 points outlined in this post will ensure a successful design brief creation!

What should a website design brief include?

A website design brief should cover every aspect of a website design and development project. This includes all technical requirements, the design process, timelines, budgets and any post-launch services.

Who should create a web design brief?

Technically, all stakeholders can be involved in creating the web design proposal. The client should however take the majority of responsibility for the website design brief creation. This is because they understand their business needs and future goals best.