5 Simple Steps to Nailing the Perfect “Website Brief”

The better the brief, the better the result – it’s something all businesses and brands should live by.

But just how should you start and shape the perfect “website brief”?

The best part about a detailed web design brief is that it ensures all parties involved are on the same page and working towards a common goal; preventing issues and managing expectations throughout.

The team at Digital Thing have been doing this for many years, and over time we’ve learnt the importance of building the perfect website brief – which we’d like to share with our readers.

Below are the basic 5 steps we take when constructing an official “website brief”, which can be applied to almost any project or client.

To make it as simple as possible, we even broke it down into who, what, why, when, where and how.

What are the business values, challenges & goals?

Before you even think about the website, think about the business itself.

It’s important everyone involved understands the history behind the brand, points of difference between competitors, as well as what direction the company is taking in the future.

All these things will give the developers a better understanding of what the website should look like and how it should function.

The website should act as an extension of the business, helping to achieve common goals and improve customer relations.

HANDY TIP: Has your business got a strong value proposition?

It’s much harder to sell your products or services online in today’s economy. A strong value proposition breaks through the noise and gets the attention of potential customers.

HELPFUL TOOL: We highly recommend this Value Proposition Kit written by Jill Konrath.

Take the time to compose your own Value Proposition, which will not only help with pitching your business, but help convey your message for the website brief.

Who will be the typical user?

To help structure the navigation and content within your website, it’s important to think about your ideal customer – particularly what information they will be looking for and what they will be hoping to achieve by visiting your site.

While constructing the website brief, some businesses go into great detail constructing these market segments, defining users by industry types, age, sex, location and their awareness of the business itself.

HANDY TIP:  Have you thought about your buyer personas?  

A great persona will outline what goals and challenges your potential customer have, how they educate themselves online, what implications of not using your service and common misconceptions personas have?  

Outlining this will help you understand why people come to your website and what information they’re looking for.  

It will help you with the language and structure of content.

HELPFUL TOOL: Creating Buyer Personas

We recommend heading over to HubSpot and reading this article on Buyer Personas.

Be sure to download the buyer persona template

Where will the typical user be found?

Once you’ve determined who your buyer personas are, you can go one step further to find out where you are likely to find them on the web and what device they will be using.

Some questions to get you started:

  • What websites do they visit?  
  • Do they subscribe to those websites?  
  • Are they on social media?  If so, which social media platforms are they on?  
  • What other groups or forums do they belong to online?

This will help you optimise the look and feel of your website to suit various devices, as well as make it easier for users to interact with your content.

This also helps with the ongoing digital marketing of your brand.

Why is a new website needed?

Now that we understand the business challenges & goals, your value proposition and personas, we need to determine who your competitors are and why you need a new website.

A great way to get started is to search via Google!  

Put yourself in the shoes of your personas and search for the key phrases they’re most likely to use to find what you’re offering.

Here are some things to think about:

  • Will they search for your service?  Will that be a local search? For example, something like “Accountants Melbourne”
  • Will it be a bit more specific? For example, “tax accountant melbourne cbd?”
  • Will they be searching for the answer to an issue? Such as, “cash flow statement example for small business”

HANDY TIP: Google Related Searches.

When you complete a search in Google, down the bottom of the page you can find “related searches”.  

This is a list of other searches people have conducted regarding similar search terms.

Take note of which companies keep ranking in the top three positions.  

Write them down and review their websites.

Make a note of the things you like and what you don’t (perhaps in an Excel document), along with the keywords that those competitors are ranking for.

How should the website look?

Have you noticed something odd?  

We’re at step #5 of how to “develop a website brief” and we haven’t even discussed design or build of the website yet?

Well, here’s why…

As a web development agency, we often receive a website brief and get told exactly how it should look and feel, from the colours to the individual features – but in fact, the projects that have been the most successful is when a client spends time with us to explain their business, to allow us to create a strategy to reflect the business in a website.

The last step to this process is to now analyse your own website.

Think about what works well and what doesn’t.

Do you have Google Analytics?

Make sure you share that with your design team and have your designer analyse the data.  

  • How many conversions/leads are you currently getting each month?
  • What pages are ranking well in Google?

If you have a style guide this is imperative to brief in your design team too.

If not, then in addition to the visual design, the web development brief should also cover the overall structure and layout of content.

When does it need to be delivered, and what is the budget?

Time and money is an important factor of any project – and it’s no different with the website brief.

The budget is crucial because it will determine the complexity and quality of your solution.

If your budget is less than required to build the website you want, you may need to cut back on some of the functionality.

It’s also important to have set deadlines in place for all parties involved, to ensure they deliver what’s required of them to keep momentum going.


Ready to get started?

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of what’s involved in constructing a website brief, why not try to put your own ideas down on paper?

If you’re looking to update your website then a detailed brief is the best way to ensure the solution meets all expectations.

If you want help, feel free to contact the friendly team at Digital Thing. We will take the time to understand your requirements and share some handy hints to putting together the perfect website brief.

Call us on 1800 254 838!

About the Author -

With a foundation anchored in marketing, business development and it, michael brings a solid understanding of business strategy, an even deeper grasp of technology, and a wealth of knowledge in what it takes to start a business and drive an idea into a reality.