How To Write An A+ Website Design Brief

Person falling over with paint - Design Brief

To avoid costly mistakes, miscommunication & timeline blow-outs.

Clear communication with your web designer is critical to getting a website that you (and your customers) love. 

We’re all about making the feedback and QA process of building a website easier at BugHerd, but the design briefing stage can be rife with back and forth miscommunication. It can be loaded with “make it pop” type statements. 

A great design brief can mean the difference between getting a great website on time and in the budget, or blowing out a project entirely. These are our suggestions on what to include for an A+ briefing experience between you and your designer. 

What is the scope of the project? 

Setting expectations straight out of the gate is key, whether you’re an established brand with a website, or this is a brand new project. Include information such as:

  • Is this a brand new site or an upgrade to an existing one? 
  • Is there an incumbent person/agency on the project? 
  • What is the budget?
  • What is the expected timeline from concept to completion?

Introduce your company.

If you’re working with someone new, now is the chance to introduce yourselves. Chances are you’ve seen their wonderful design portfolio, so they will expect the same, such as: 

  • What does the company do? 
  • Can you provide a bit of history? 
  • Introduce the key team members on the project
  • Are there available brand documents? 
    • Can you attach a brand guide? (at the very least a logo in vector format)
    • Is there existing content you can provide for guidance? 
  • What are the company’s or product’s key messages?

Inigo Montoya knows how to introduce himself.

What is the objective of the website?

Most designers will be able to make something that looks great, but that’s definitely not the sole purpose of a website. A great designer will work with you to achieve your goals, which could be any and all of these things: 

  • A better conversion rate. Spell out what the current one looks like 
  • A more SEO optimised site
  • Lower bounce rate / higher time on site
  • An easier path to purchase

Who is the target audience? 

It’s worthwhile breaking down the demographics of the main users and target market your website serves. It’s useful to break down your target market and target audience. Even passing on basic Google Analytics data to your designer will be helpful.

We prefer to attach a persona template to ensure the designer keeps the audience in front of mind. 

Define the actions you want the user to take.

Going deeper than the overall website goals, what functionality should your website have? Tell them what you really want the website to DO. This is important as great design includes great UX consideration. A simple map of the user journey would be enough for the initial brief. 

Are any of these actions likely to be included within your site? 

  • Donate money
  • Subscribe to a blog
  • Sign up for a trial
  • Read a blog
  • Purchase a product
  • Book a meeting
What do you want gif from the notebook
Your designer is not a mind reader

Include inspiration and design references.

Where can the designer draw inspiration from? Can you link any references that will be helpful? Sometimes it is just as helpful to attach imagery of what you DON’T like so that the designer may avoid creating something completely off the mark. 

A simple mood board or even just a few links will go a long way. 

The BugHerd design mood board

Who are your competitors?

Akin to including what you don’t like above. It’s worthwhile noting down your top 5-6 competitors online. It would be highly unfortunate to end up with a site that mimics or doesn’t stand out from the crowd. 

Include specific website information. 

The more detail you can give upfront, the less back and forth communication you’ll commit to later. Consider including: 

  • Number of pages
  • Navigation structure
  • Specific website features
  • Call to action
  • Domain hosting info (logins and platform info)
  • Third-party sites to link to (socials, newsletter ID etc)
  • Content: This may well be a chicken and egg scenario BUT if you have product information, headlines and other copy it’s worth adding in what you have so the designer may find a balance.

We’re big fans of creating a visual website design brief with a tool like Milanote, or in Trello rather than an attached document in an email. That way the brief can be collaborative and visual and ultimately an ongoing working document. 

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