Website Design Brief | Guide + Template

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When switching from Google Docs to HolaBrief, I found that our briefs became significantly more in depth
- Terri Williams, Agency Founder

What is a Website Design Creative Brief?

A website design creative brief is a document that contains all the necessary information to create and build a new website from scratch. But careful, the brief doesn’t just include the visual direction of the project, it also contains logistics information like budget, deliverables, dates, responsibilities, milestones, and so on.

Even though creating one for your projects might sound like a waste of time, it’s not. A brief is an essential component of every creative project since it puts everyone on the same page, from the client to the designers, the copywriter, and the manager.

Not building one also increases the risk of miscommunication between agency/freelancer and client. This can derive from having to redesign the website since “it’s not what the client asked for”, or even worse, an unhappy client that will never come back and do business with you.

Now that you know the importance of building a good creative brief for your website designs - no matter if they are a whole marketing site or a simple landing page - let’s dive deep into what makes a perfect web design brief.

What Makes a Perfect Web Design Brief Document

After years of experience as designers and working with dozens of agencies, we’ve realized that every effective creative brief shares the following 3 characteristics:

  • They are comprehensive, yet simple:

Yes, this feature sounds paradoxical, but it’s not. A good website design brief covers all the necessary elements for the successful completion of the project but nothing more. It isn’t complicated and doesn’t confuse the client when filling it out. In other words, each question and exercise serves a specific purpose.

  • They provide a creative direction

Without some guidelines, the designer will feel lost and won’t know how to handle the project. That’s why good briefs give the creative a sense of what the client is looking for. We will explore this section later.

  • They put everyone on the same page

This is perhaps the most important characteristic of effective briefs. The goal of this document is to inform everyone involved in the project who is responsible, what are the deliverables, which steps will be taken to reach the final result, and so on.

When building your next website brief, be sure that they possess these features. If you do so, you are on the right path to building the perfect briefing document. Now, let’s explore…

How to Write a Website Design Brief? 7 Must-Have Sections

In this part, we’ll go over the different sections that your brief must include if you want it to be comprehensive and do its job well. Another option is to use a tested and proven design brief template in HolaBrief and customize it to your project’s specific requirements. (did we mention that it’s free?).

1) Project Overview

The first section that your brief must include is a short introduction to the project and the company. Its purpose is to introduce the agency or freelancer to the company and where are they coming from. You can include questions like:

  • How did the company start?
  • What made you decide to build a new website?
  • What has been done before that worked?
  • What has been done before that didn’t work?

Feel free to use these questions in your briefs or write new ones from scratch. Just remember that they need to provide a quick overview of the business and the project in general.

2) Budget

Agreeing in regards to the budget is always difficult, so make sure that you include it in your briefs. Everyone should be able to easily find how much the project is going to cost, your clients (since they are paying for it), and the agency (since they are the ones getting paid).

This section can be as simple as having a short field where the price is going to be written or a detailed overview of how many hours were forecasted and how much your designers and copywriters charge for it.

3) Objectives

Usually, clients who want to build a new website have an objective in mind. They want the new site to achieve some goal and solve a business problem. Some examples are:

  • They want to start selling online and need a new Shopify store where their clients and seamlessly shop around.
  • Their current website is not converting customers well so they need to redesign it and improve their conversion rate.
  • They need a new website to have an online presence that clients can search for and use as a way of contacting them.

If possible, try to add a metric to the goal. If it’s improving the landing page’s conversion rate, by how much? Using the SMART framework can also be a great idea for goal setting.

4) Specification and Requirements

Not every project is created equal and each client will have different requirements for their websites. One might need an e-commerce site, another a membership page that enables visitors to buy subscriptions.

It’s paramount that you collect this type of information so that the developer and the designer can work in conjunction to build what your client needs. If you don’t do it, you run the risk of wasting precious time and money.

4) Deliverables and Milestones

Getting clear on what is going to be delivered to consider the project done is quintessential for a successful brief. It gives the client peace of mind since they are 100% sure of what they are going to receive, and it puts the creative team on the same page.

Milestones are the different steps that the project will go through to achieve its final result. An example might be:

  1. Filling out the creative brief
  2. Designing a low-fidelity wireframe
  3. Designing a high-fidelity wireframe
  4. Building the final version on WordPress and getting feedback
  5. Delivery

Each milestone should have a specific date that the agency and the client decided on together.

6) Competition and Customer Persona

It’s good practice to research and write down who your client’s competitors are and how they want to differentiate from them. In HolaBrief, we have interactive exercises that your client can complete to give the designer an overview of how they see themselves within the competitive landscape. Explore them here!

Another element that your briefs should include is your client’s customer persona. Who are the people that are going to use the website? Which are their demographic (age, gender, etc.). Remember, the goal of a website is to appeal to those people, not your clients so consider that when building it.

7) Visual Direction

Finally, a good brief must give the designer a creative and visual direction. Building and sharing with your clients a moodboard so that they can paste examples that they like is very useful since - as the saying goes - a picture is worth a thousand words.

In HolaBrief we have an interactive moodboard that your clients can play with and upload pictures they enjoy.

Extra - A Good Website Design Brief Example

Of course, a good example should include the 5 parts indicated above as well as the 5 aspects that we discussed in the beginning. Anything less than that puts you in danger of building the website on insecure ground and forcing you to revisit it often.

You can create a HolaBrief account and utilize our website design brief template for free if you want to see a decent example and adjust it to your needs and specifications. Here is a glimpse of what you will receive:

Build and Download Proven Marketing Website Design Brief Samples with HolaBrief

Making a website design creative brief from scratch requires a lot of work, and it does. Additionally, there's a potential that you can make a mistake or forget to add anything important, which could have an impact on how well your project turns out.

For precisely this reason, we built HolaBrief and created tried-and-true templates for you to use and modify. You just need to choose one, alter it by adding or deleting exercises, and email it to your customer to complete. They don't even need to have a HolaBrief account!

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Explore More Templates

Build interactive briefs that your clients will love to fill out

Either pick from our tested templates or create custom briefs using interactive exercises like Moodboard, Customer Persona, or Competitors Map. Once done, send the link to the client so they can respond without the need to have an account.

Ready to create standout work in less time?

Join 1000s of agencies using HolaBrief to set up their projects for success.

Ready to create standout work in less time?

Join 1000s of agencies using HolaBrief to set up their projects for success.