Larger businesses/organisations often have a good idea of what they want from a new website. They have normally spent some time carefully thinking about their aims and objectives and have created a clear and detailed website brief.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the smaller business this is not always the case. In fact, for some small businesses early planning can get neglected, they have recognised the need for having a website, but do not appear to have fully thought through the reasons behind that recognition.
To be fair, most small companies do not have the luxury of accessing a range of IT, PR and Marketing resources. However, regardless of the size your business, it’s still vitally important that time is set aside to prepare a detailed design brief.
But why bother with a brief?
Creating and developing a website is a little like putting together a large and complex jigsaw puzzle. To complete the puzzle it’s generally a good idea to first identify the individual pieces, and then secondly to start to put those pieces together. To make this process easier it’s often necessary to refer to the picture or image displayed on the puzzle’s box. However, without this pictorial guidance, putting the pieces together would be difficult, haphazard and time consuming.
Just like following the image on the box to complete the puzzle, it’s important that web designers are given a clear vision to refer to. By creating a clear and detailed website brief the web designer can start to understand your vision and start to put all the pieces together.
Basic elements of a simple design brief are…
- An overview of your business.
- If you already have a website, explain what you like/dislike about it.
- The aims and objectives of the website, i.e. generate enquiries, promote a new product etc.
- Who is the target audience?
- Scale of site, i.e. a small-medium 10-30 page website, or a large database site with hundreds of pages.
- Functionality requirements, such as…
- Content Management Systems (CMS). What’s a CMS?
- Website Search Systems.
- Password protected pages.
- Message boards, guest books etc.
- E-commerce capabilities.
- Design and branding. What is the visual message you want to project?
- Structure and Content.
- What will be the primary and sub sections of your website, i.e. home, about, contact etc.
- Have you written, prepared and proof-read the website copy.
- Are you using or considered hiring a professional Copywriter?
- Will you want to use stock images?
- Will you be using a photographer or using your own images?
- Will you be using downloadable files such as PDF‘s and MSWord docs?
- Hosting, Domain name requirements. What is Hosting and what is a Domain name?
- Are there any specific hosting requirements?
- Will your website require a lot of web space or bandwidth?
- How important is Accessibility.
- Marketing, i.e. search engine ranking, offline advertising etc.
- Training: i.e. will you need training to help staff use a CMS?
- What is your budget? This can be broken down.
- What is your timetable? This can also be broken down into various phases or stages
- Are there any issues of Copyright?
- Finally, your name, position and full contact details.
The process of writing a website brief will help clarify and define your website goals which in turn will enable your designer to create the website you require.
A final point. It's good to be detailed, however try not to be too prescriptive or ridged, laying down too many early rules may put some designers off getting back to you.
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