Writing the perfect website brief
Having a clear and detailed website brief is essential to help define your website’s goals and objectives. It also ensures you get the most out of your agency and everyone shares the same understanding for the project to be a success.
We’ve seen quite a few website briefs in our time (in various shapes and sizes!) and find that companies tend to overlook similar issues when briefing their creative agencies.
Not all websites are created equal and most have different purposes. Knowing what you want to achieve, how you are going to measure success and what you want from your users is perhaps the most important element of a website brief. Only once this has been agreed can you begin to consider the wider issues that are going to shape and develop your online strategy.
Below you’ll find seven pointers that every business should pay attention to when writing a website brief.
1. Using Analytics to drive insight
In our haste to get a shiny new website, we often forget the most important reason why our website exists in the first place – for the user. If you know who your visitors are, what pages they visit the most (and least), you can begin to identify opportunities and make informed, strategic decisions about the content, structure and design of your new website. By doing some data analysis of your existing site in your website brief will ensure your web strategy is aligned with what matters most – the end user.
2. A Mobile Strategy
There’s no getting away from the fact that the web has gone mobile. Companies now need to address a mobile strategy as a requisite for their new site. However, many website briefs overlook a specific mobile strategy which should at least include some analysis of when your users typically access your site on a mobile device, and how you plan to adapt the design, layout, navigation and prioritise content in order to meet the needs of a mobile audience.
Functionality is a crucial stage of the web design and development process. It should include how you envisage each element of the site working from the user perspective, and doesn’t need to be overly technical. Examples of functionality can include anything from an online calendar, form or survey progress trackers, internal site search, right through to how you wish to manage the site and access user information going forward.
Clearly specifying what functionality the site requires at the outset will help your agency estimate a realistic cost and timeframe of the project.
4. User-permissions – if proposing a CMS (Content Management System)
The ability to edit and manage your site efficiently through a CMS can be an essential requirement. You will need to work with your agency to identify a CMS that works for your needs and supports your organisation’s workflow processes. It’s also worth considering how many people within your organisation will be contributing and managing content on the site so that user-permissions can be set up to enable content contributors to use only those tools, menus and options within the CMS that are applicable to their unique role or area of expertise.
Designing a website without considering your content is like trying to design a room without knowing how big the furniture is. The content and images dictate how all the elements of your website will fit together and how each page will look and work. Ideally, a website brief should have a clear outline of all content and sections, as well as specifying who will create and upload it.
6. Search Engine Optimisation
It is important to at least consider your online marketing strategy at the outset of the website project. After all, it’s pointless wasting your money on a beautiful new website if no one is going to be able to find it. The web is so competitive and you will need to think strategically about how you are going to align your content strategy with what keywords you want to rank for to ensure maximum visibility in search engines.
By all means let the agency know if you have a specific deadline you wish to achieve. However, you will get the best results if you allow the agency to recommend the timeframes and key deliverables based on the brief and the complexity of the project.
Taking the time to write a comprehensive website brief will help you and your agency better understand your goals so that your website works as a great marketing asset for your business.