The first step to creating a killer website is the brief. This is the document you send to web design and development companies (like us!) to let them know what you are looking for. From here, the companies will then give you a quote, outline what they can do for you, and hopefully convince you that they are the right company for the job.
Unfortunately, so many website redevelopments fall down at the first hurdle as a result of an unclear briefing. With the right structure in place, you can ensure there are no miscommunications and keep everyone on the right track.
So, how do you go about writing a bulletproof brief? Here are some of our top tips…
It’s nearly impossible to give a quote without some background information about your company. Write a few paragraphs about what you do and what makes your company different. Try to include the following information:
- How big is the company? How many people do you employ?
- What products or services do you sell? Better yet, what problems do you solve?
- Are you local, national or international?
- How long have you been running?
- What are the main words you would use to describe your company?
Your current website
If you already have a website, be sure to include a link, no matter how much you hate it. If you don’t have a website yet, include some links to websites that you like the look of and would want to emulate.
- What do you like about your current website?
- What doesn’t work for you on your current site?
- How many monthly visitors do you typically receive?
- How many conversions from your website do you typically receive?
- Do you know what platform the current site is built on? (e.g WordPress, Joomla)
Your dream website
At this stage, you can start to think about what you would like to see on the new website. Depending on your budget, you might want to split this into a list of needs and wants.
- What is the primary goal of your new site? Is it purely about branding, or do you need it to fulfil a specific function? Do you want more traffic, more conversions, or just a better user experience?
- Will you be adding new services? For example, if you are adding e-commerce capabilities, this will need to be considered from the start. There’s nothing worse than asking for a shop to be added in right as the project is nearing completion.
- Has your target audience changed? Some companies use a website rebrand to extend their target audience. Is your new website B2B or B2C?
- Are there any websites that you like and would like to borrow elements from?
- Who are your main competitors?
The best way to get across your ideas for design is using examples already in use. If you aren’t sure what you are looking for and would like input from a designer, then it’s best to offer examples of what you don’t want.
While it can be tempting to go ‘off-piste’ with your new website, it’s important that it still remains in line with your current branding. The online and offline experience should be cohesive. Unless you’re thinking about a complete rebrand, your website brand should remain consistent.
It’s easy to be coy about budgets. After all, we all want to get a good deal. That said, you’ll get much more accurate and insightful quotes from designers and developers if you offer a ballpark budget.
Don’t just think about the budget for this particular website brief. Think about if you’ll need an ongoing maintenance contract and how much you can afford to spend on that. There’s always room for negotiation so don’t worry about showing your hand too soon. Being honest and upfront about your budgets will ensure you end up negotiating with the right people.
Wider marketing plan
It helps to offer some details about your wider marketing plan for the next six months. How will you be directing traffic to the website? This can change the way websites are made, so it’s helpful for designers and developers to know if you’re going to need an array of PPC landing pages that can be adapted to different uses.
As we’ve mentioned before, content isn’t something that should be an afterthought. Often, content should be the first thing you think about before a single mockup is created.
- What is and isn’t working with your existing content?
- Who will be responsible for creating the content?
- Can you repurpose existing content or do you need to start from scratch?
- Do you have access to the right images to help tell your brand story online?
So, there you have it. The bare bones of a website brief. If you follow the steps above, you can be sure that you are putting together an in-depth brief that will yield equally in-depth proposals.
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