What is a Website Brief
A website brief is a document that announces a project, describes it, and solicits bids from qualified agencies to complete it. This brief outlines key information and provides us ‘the agency’ with a clear understanding of your goals and expectations. This document in-turn helps us draft a proposal (or tender) that formalises your needs and expectations.
Your Website Brief
Sitting down to write a website brief, specification, overview, request for tender (there are lots of ways to name it) can be a bit of a daunting task.
How much information is too much or too little? Does it need to be technical? Do I need to know exactly what I want?
The potential questions are endless… in this Journal entry we will try and list the key ‘top level’ questions we have for a client when looking at a new project that will help you write a comprehensive and meaningful website brief.
Your Business and Customer
Firstly, it’s good to get an understanding about you and your business/company. Tell us a little (or a lot) about what you do, your products or services.
Who are your competitors and what makes you different from them? This is actually quite important as it will assist us in our research.
What is your USP? it could be your level of customer care, or how unique your product is within your market or sector, consultation process or price point.
Who are your target audience? both in terms of demographics (age, gender, occupation, etc.,) and their motivation for using your product or service.
Do your customers face any challenges when accessing your service? As an example; you ‘like us’ might have a lot of questions before you can provide your customer with a quote.
You know you need or want to refresh a website, but what do you want your website to accomplish?
Is the main objective is to increase brand awareness, educate visitors about services, encourage online sales, or something else. The more specific your aims and goals, the better equipped we are to meet them.
Once your objective is clear, it’s easier to address the question of what activities you want your site visitors to engage in. What is your desired conversion? Perhaps it’s to sign-up to your newsletter, request a call back, book a consultation/service, or make an online purchase.
By knowing your key objectives and desired outcomes/conversions, this will inform us (or any other digital agency) on what functionality is required.
For example; booking a consultation will require a clear and concise Call to Action (CTA). This CTA will bring the user to an online form, perhaps one with a calendar functionality for the user to select from predetermined days/times. You might need to take a booking deposit which will require a payment gateway like Stripe.
By understanding (a) your business (b) your offering (c) your customer (d) your objective, and (e) your desired outcome, we can then establish the correct route and functionality needed to help you and your customer get there and most importantly – for us to give the correct design and development estimate.
This is perhaps the most difficult part of any project for a digital agency – content.
Approx. how many pages do you envisage your website having, for example:
- About Your Company
- Your Team
- Your Services
- Case Studies
- News Section
- Contact Page
Each of these pages will require content – so the key question is – do you have this content ready? If not, when will it be ready? Or, do you require help from the agency to write this content copy?
We always tell clients, don’t underestimate the amount of work involved in content creation. It may seem simple when it’s a pending task – but when you have to find the time and start with a blank sheet of paper the realisation of the workload becomes apparent. Therefore, of all the questions listed in this Journal entry – really think about this one.
If you are looking for an online store – this in itself it will raise a number of questions, we might write a separate Journal entry for this, but for the moment here are some key questions:
- Approximately how many products?
- Are products in categories? (for example Jumpers, Dresses, Footwear)
- Do products have variations? (for example Sml, Med, Lrg and/or Black, Yellow, Green)
- Are any of your products subscription based?
- Are you local, national or worldwide delivery and what are your delivery costs?
- Will you require stock management?
- Do you have a preferred payment method? (for example Stripe, GlobalPay, PayPal, Sage)
- What other sort of functionality would you like to have? for example
- Discount codes
- Advanced customer notifications like SMS
- Back in stock notifications
- Trade pricing
Your Current Presence
Do you have an existing website, and what do you like and/or dislike about it? Perhaps you don’t like the design, the lack of features or the overall performance.
Are you happy with the overall brand (logo, colour scheme) or do you want to start afresh, and do you have analytics? If so this will give us an insight into current performance and user behaviours.
There could be some key elements of your site that work, and work well and while they may need tweaking this is not a case of ‘throw the baby and bathwater’.
Your Budget and Timeline
Ok, we know what you’re thinking – you tell us what you’re willing to spend and that’s what we quote, right?
Wrong… the simple fact is, ‘what you’re looking to achieve may cost more than what you have’. Knowing you may be working on a restricted budget will at least allow us to come back with suggestions and options.
We have a sales matra and it has steered us well ‘we price to do the work, not get the work’.
Any good agency (and there are plenty of us out there) will cost a project based on your requirements and to deliver a website that will exceed your expectations.
Don’t beat around the bush on this one, understanding your budget will just help us get to a decision quicker – and at the end of the day, we might not be the right fit regardless of budget.
As for timeline, a realistic indication of when you would like your website ready (please note it will not be ready in 3 weeks) as well as, are you tying the website launch in with any other activity like a new product on market or large company announcement.
We know this is a lot of information to digest at once (trust us we’ve all been there).
However, to be taken seriously when discussing a new project you need to be detailed, and ready to tell us what you want, as we cannot create a vision that you do not have. Your website brief is necessary to ensure we understand your needs and expectations. It serves as a foundation and starting point for the project.
So keep our tips (and us) in mind next time you need to create a project brief. And remember you’re creating this to attract your audience or community, not for yourself.