If you have been tasked with writing a brief for a website project to send out to Digital Marketing Agencies or Web Designers to ask them to tender for work, then it helps to know this sort of things to include within your brief.
You don’t have to be a designer, developer or indeed a marketer to be able to write a brief of this nature, but there are some things to consider to help agencies gain a better understanding of what you need so they can provide you with the most accurate proposal and costs.
About Your Business
This may seem obvious, but oftentimes this key information is overlooked. Ensure that you are clearly explaining who your business is, a brief history and description of what you offer. Every business is unique so it’s important to understand as much as possible from the offset about each individual.
Aims and Objectives
Firstly, state why you are looking to embark on this new project and what you hope to achieve from it. For example you may already have a website that is now looking a little tired and isn’t performing particularly well, so you want a new website to be more in-keeping with your new products and services which in turn brings in more revenue.
In addition, it is helpful to state your hopeful outcomes from undergoing this new project. Again as an example, you hope to have a website that is easier to navigate than your current website and allows your in-house team to be able to make their own content updates without having to outsource this work. Telling your designer or agency at the beginning what you want to achieve means we are all on the same page and clear from day one.
Design Look and Feel
Try and think about the look you are trying to achieve from the site. Use words to describe how you want the site to look such as light or dark, image led, fresh, simple, affordable. Also include examples of other websites that you like and also sites you don’t like. Sometimes it easier to demonstrate what you don’t like instead of what you do want.
Think about who your audience is.
When you’re writing a brief for a website project, try and think about what will be useful and appealing to your customers. These are the people that will be using the website and so it is essential the website speaks to them directly. We’ve gone into more detail about designing for your audience in our recent blog post here.
Think about your brand.
Do you have a brand identity in place or are you looking to change this? We always advise getting your brand right before embarking on any sort of website or marketing project. Lay the foundations, then you can get the website done and go to market. If you already have your brand in place, then consider if you have brand guidelines that need to be adhered to and let your designer know. Provide any details of messaging and straplines that you use plus any other collateral such as brand values that you apply to your business, vision and mission statements – this all works towards your overall brand so if you have this information then state so in your brief.
What do you want the website to do?
Including key functionality requirements from the start will make a difference to cost and timescales. For example, if you know that you want the website to be able to sell and take payment for products or events, then make sure you include this. Consider things such as search features and newsletter sign up box, should there be galleries for images or perhaps live chat? Try to include as much information as possible if you can as much of the development time will be spent on the functionality.
Website content creation is a big job for whoever is tasked with producing it and often underestimated. Writing and editing copy for a website can take weeks, sometimes months depending on the website size. Think about if this is something that your business has the knowledge, time and resource to produce in-house or if it would be something you need assistance with.
If you already have your content and images ready then let your designer know, this can help with the design and planning stages and can also help with planning costs as your designer and or agency, will know how much time they need to factor in to produce an image style plus source images. If you don’t have any images then think about the type of imagery you would like, do you want to have a photography service to take pictures of your offices, team, products etc or would you prefer stock imagery? If you prefer stock imagery do you have a budget to pay for sites such as iStock or Shutterstock or would it need to be free images from sites such as Unsplash?
Be clear about your budget.
Agencies don’t ask for a budget so they can max it out, we need to know how much you are looking to spend so we can advise on the best functionality available within your budget. State how much you want to spend and your designer/developer team can ensure that they advise on what can be produced within your limits and if it just isn’t possible, then they can tell you up front. By withholding your budget, it is impossible to know how much you are looking to spend and so it is likely you will receive quotes for costs much higher than you wanted to be paying.
There are always different options in website development and these options will suit every budget. As an example, if you were looking to sell tickets for an event through your website then this can be done several ways. To sell tickets seamlessly within the website – this would be custom functionality which can be more of a costly build, or you can utilise existing platforms to manager your ticket sales such as Eventbrite – this is slightly more administration but less work to develop therefore less cost. Then, when you have more budget available you can look to incorporate more functionality later on.
Web development should be flexible, you can build upon your website as and when budgets permit. If you need to start small and scale up in the future, then be clear about this so your agency can work with you.
When do you want the site to go live?!
This is so important to know as an agency. Most often even the tightest of deadlines can be accommodated for, but the sooner we know the better. You need to factor in your time internally as well, so think about any holidays staff who are key members of the project may be having, plus internal time to check and sign things off. As mentioned above, one of the biggest parts of the project is always the content creation, this is a big task for whoever is creating it so make sure this is factored into your timeline. Be stating your deadline up front, then agencies/designers can say from the offset it they can’t meet your deadline or not instead of choosing to go ahead with a project following a proposal you like, then being disappointed if the deadline can’t be met.
Hosting, Support and Maintenance and Ongoing Marketing
Once your website project is complete there are a few options available for where your site is hosted and who looks after it moving forward. Although none of your decisions at this stage are set in stone and can be changed before the site launch, it is good to consider this at the beginning of the project so as you and your agency know what is happening when the website is ready to launch and the necessary work can be carried out in preparation. The website needs to be hosted somewhere, if this isn’t something you can manage yourself then ask your agency to include their costs for hosting at the beginning so you can factor that in to your internal costs.
In regards to ongoing support and maintenance, you may wish to have your agency take care of this for you if you are very busy or simply want peace of mind that it can be taken care of, or you may well want to do this yourself.
And finally, but most importantly! What happens to your website once it is live? Of course you need to tell the world about it, but how are you going to do that? Think about SEO, PPC, Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing. State in your brief if ongoing marketing is something you may need help with or if you already have a strategy in place which you intend to roll out internally.
Hopefully this list of things to include in your brief for a website project has been insightful. Sometimes it isn’t possible to include all of these points which as a marketing agency we fully appreciate. However, the more information you can include the better, as you are much more likely to receive a proposal of work and costs that are in line with your expectations.
If you’ve got a project you’d like to discuss, then please do get in touch and we will be happy to talk.