The importance of a website brief: how to begin creating a 'roadmap to success'
A website brief can make or break a project. When done incorrectly, it can be a costly mistake, so it needs to be right from the get-go. Yet, many website briefs lack vision, direction, and sometimes even understanding of the what and the why in the functionality being requested. It’s not unusual for a client to approach an agency without any real idea of what they want. They simply look for a cost “for a website” and for it to be completed within, say, three months.
A successful digital project doesn't work like that. It’s almost like walking into a car dealership and saying, “I want a car", the salesperson has very little to work with. They don’t know what size of car, colour, engine size, additional features, or what you’re looking to use it for. It’s time consuming, frustrating and the likelihood is that at the end of the encounter, neither party will have found what they were looking for. You could find yourself ending up with anything between a sporty 2-seater and a people carrier. Both would seemingly be the answer to the question, but could be totally un-fit for purpose.
80% of clients believe they are good at writing briefs. A fact that 90% of agencies disagree with!Better Briefs Project, October 2021
Research by the Better Briefs Project in October 2021 found that 80% of clients believe they are good at writing briefs. A fact that 90% of agencies disagree with! That's a pretty big gulf between teams about to embark on a collaborative project.
The briefing process isn't just about your desired outcome. It's an opportunity to understand each other's respective businesses. A website project brings objectives for both teams; agency and client. Both have their own respective KPIs and expectations. The project needs to be a good fit for both if the desired results are going to be achieved.
The better and more accurate the input, the better and more targeted the output will be. This means no two briefs look the same, so there is no singular right way of writing one. That can seem daunting if this is your first brief. It is important to ask yourself, "what are your goals for this website?”. Make this your holy grail. Write it at the top of your page, and underline it. Everything else stems from this.
So, for now, we’re going to forget all about the website. This part is all about your business, your customers and your goals.
Understanding the business
We need to know your business, its origin and the direction you want to take it. That includes digging into your USPs, target market and customer personas too. Understanding you and your customers is the first step in creating a tailored site to address your unique needs and achieve project KPIs.
It’s all about results
What are the main project objectives, and how will success be measured if these objectives are met. This usually includes enhancing the brand's position, increasing conversions, generating more leads, increasing engagement or improving functionality.
Looking at competitors
Any thorough web design brief should also include information about your competitors, as well as your own business. This isn’t for us to ‘see what must be working for them’, but isolate how to create a unique point of difference within the market. We can also see how other businesses that share your space communicate with their customers and carry out their marketing.
Looking at your current site
Before any improvements can be made, we need to understand the status of your existing site - the functionality, the sitemap and the CMS. This will enable us to know just what we’re working with and which areas can be improved according to the brief objectives. Understand what's not working with it is fundamental to ensuring the right outcomes.
From the outset, we must be clear on the available budget for the project. You could build a house with a £200,000 or a £2m budget, but the approach and outcomes at each level will be different. Understanding your budget can allow us to suggest the most cost-effective implementation solution against your 'wish-list'.
Do you need help to plan your website brief?
Speak to us today about how we can support your website planning process. We can share our resources including our book, Holistic Website Planning.Contact Us
Andrew is the founder of multi-award winning A Digital and believes that technology should be an enabler, making a positive impact on the way people live and work.