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How to write the perfect design brief

By Ben Walker on 23 October 2017

Writing a design brief can seem like a daunting task, so we’ve come up with a few top tips to help you dot the i’s and cross the t’sFirst and foremost, a design brief should be informative, detailed and engaging. Think of it as a method of telling your brand’s story and ethos whilst giving a design agency a valuable insight into what your project entails.  

You may wonder what information to include and how to successfully communicate what you want from an agency. The answers to some of the following questions will form the base of any well-constructed design brief:

  1. An ideal start is to outline your company’s background. When and why did the company form? What makes you stand out from your competitors? What are your plans for the company moving forward?
  2. What does the project involve? Is it a logo design or a wider branding project? Do you require advertising, video or a website, or all of the above? It may seem obvious, but defining the deliverables of the project is essential to ensuring the design agency understands the bigger picture of what is required.
  3. What is your brand personality? Is it friendly, sophisticated, corporate…? Think of keywords that define your brand.
  4. What are the key messages? What is the most important thing you want to say?
  5. Who is the target audience? Explain how the audience feels about the product category, the brand or a specific service. Consider how you want your audience to react. What action do you want your audience to take?
  6. What is the tone of the text, graphics and imagery? What impression do you hope to convey? Professional? Funny? Shocking?

Once you have answered these questions and provided a full history of your brand, consider the specifics of your project. If you are briefing an agency to design your company website, for example, there are fundamental questions you will need to take into consideration:

  1. What do you want your website to look like? Listing your competitors to ensure you stand apart from their brands and providing examples of websites you think work well, forms a source of inspiration for a design agency.
  2. Do you currently have a domain name and hosting?
  3. How many pages will your website require? Often, a website will have a homepage, an ‘about’ page and a ‘contact’ page, but do you need a page outlining your services or products? Will you need news and events pages?
  4. Will you be needing to update the website yourself? If so, you will need a Content Management System (CMS). The design agency should be able to advise on which system is most appropriate. We would always recommend an open-source CMS (available to anyone using the application rather than bespoke to an agency) such as WordPress or Drupal, as this will give you greater flexibility in the future.
  5. Finally, clarify what you want the website to do for your business. Do you need an E-commerce website to sell products online? Do you need users to be able to sign up for events? Do you need the website to house video or a documents library?

Your answers to these sorts of questions form the basis of any good website design brief. Whilst this list of questions is not exhaustive, and every website is unique, these are the sort of specifics you should consider outlining.

Having defined your specific project requirements, you should seriously consider setting a budget for the project. A clear budget will save you and any design agency you approach a tremendous amount of time. You won’t spend time liaising with agencies who can’t meet your budget and it will be clear to those who can what you are limited to, to avoid problems like overspending. If your budget aligns with the design agency, the final step would be to meet face-to-face to discuss the project in further detail to identify key project aspects and reach solutions to any ambiguities.

We hope these tips have helped to point you in the right direction when it comes to writing your design brief, but if you would like to discuss any of the above points or if you’d like us to send you a copy of our design brief to fill in, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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“From start to finish, Firefly were great to work with. They understood the objectives of the project and what I was trying to achieve, and provided regular updates throughout. The project was managed very efficiently and I am extremely happy with the result. Thank you!”

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CPD & Training Officer
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