Freya Helps Me

How to Write a Website Brief that Actually Works!

Ever wondered How to write a Website Brief that actually works, in this blog I help you work out why to use Post-It notes and how to start

Let’s start by understanding exactly what a website brief is and why you need one before we look at HOW to write a website brief. Picture this: you’re about to embark on a web design adventure, and just like a seasoned explorer, you need to know where you’re going. That’s where a website brief comes in – it’s like your trusty map that guides you through the winding paths of design, development, and collaboration.

A website brief is a structured document that outlines the goals, objectives, requirements and constraints for the creation or redesign of a website. It serves as a clear way (for clients and those making the website) to know what the end goal is, how it’ll work and how to get there. It can list key aspects such as the target audience, design preferences, functionality needs, content strategy, desired outcomes and offers clarity on the timeline and what the budget will be.

Basically, it covers your *ahem* backside and that for those making the website so that everyone is on the same page with no misunderstandings, preventing those “wait, what are we doing again?” or “that’s included, right? moments.

The Importance of a Website Brief

When thinking about writing a website brief, first consider what you need from it. Website briefs are important as they help you lay the groundwork for making a website that clients will actually use.

A website brief isn’t just about avoiding confusion (although it does that too, like a pro!), it’s about making sure your website hits the bullseye when it comes to its purpose. A well-crafted website brief is the ultimate time and resource saver. It makes the objectives, target audience, design preferences and basic requirements clear, so there are no more endless revisions or going back and forth – just a smooth paved road to your perfect website!

But that’s not all! A comprehensive website brief is like the ultimate multitasking superhero. Not only does it keep everyone in sync, but it also turbocharges your decision-making process. Instead of spending ages deciding which font to use or whether your logo should be bigger, you can simply turn to your trusty brief and find all the answers you need, saving you valuable time.

Whenever making a website though, always remember the most important rule…

The website should be for YOUR CUSTOMER or those using it, NOT YOU!

You may love the colour pink or cartoon images, but if it’s not related to your work or brand and if your customer doesn’t like it, they won’t use it, making the website redundant. Equally, pink might be perfect for your clients, but you hate it – don’t let your opinion get in the way.

Key Ingredients for a Successful Website Brief

Alrighty then, let’s break it down and take a peek at some of the sections that are typically included in a good website brief.

1. Project Overview and Objectives

This is the main section. It outlines the main goals, objectives, and purpose of the website. This helps everyone to understand the project’s core focus and sets the tone for the entire brief.

2. Target Audience 

Describes the intended audience for the website, who they are, what they like and how to make them fall in love with your website!

3. Scope and Deliverables

The fancy way of saying “what’s in and what’s out” for your website. Here is where all the elements of the website will be e.g., pages, features and functionalities. This helps us stick to the plan and avoid what we call “scope creep”. Scope creep happens when new things keep getting added to the project after it’s started, leading to confusion, delays, and extra costs. No one likes scope creep, trust me, so it’s best to note it all down at the start.

4. Design and Branding Guidelines

Specifies your website’s style and vibe. Colours, fonts, images, etc, they’re all here. It’s always good to note three websites you do and don’t like and work out why you do/don’t like them exactly to help with this.

5 Content Strategy 

Outlines the type of content to be included on the website. All the images, text and videos that will keep your user engagement high.

6. Functionality and Features

Does your website need any cool tricks, like forms or a shop? This part describes the interactive features needed, such as contact forms, e-commerce capabilities and user accounts.

7. Technical Requirements

No tech jargon here, just the basics. Where will your website live? This section outlines the preferred platform (e.g., WordPress, Wix, Shopify etc), hosting requirements, compatibility with browsers and devices, and any third-party integrations necessary. What plugins or features should it include or do you want time spent making your own versions?

8. Timeline and Milestones

Time is precious, right? Here you set a realistic timeline for different stages of the project from design to launch, with pit stops along the way to track progress. If things are needed from you, this might cause a delay (e.g. team photos) so factor this in.

9. Budget

Displays the allocated budget, including any additional costs such as hosting, domain registration or premium plugins. This helps to make sure everything fits within your financially happy place. Be wary of adding paid plugins – check if you’re getting a lifetime or subscription version. Money matters!

10. Boosting your Online Presence

Addresses search engine optimisation (SEO) considerations, highlighting keywords, meta tags, and other SEO strategies. This section also includes plans for tracking the website’s performance.

11. User-Friendly Fun

Discusses how users will explore your website, ensuring a smooth user experience whether they’re browsing on a computer or a teeny-tiny phone.

12. Testing and Quality Assurance

Outlines the testing process to ensure the website functions as intended and is free from bugs/errors before launch.

14. Mobile

This should be a given that it does, but consider how high on your importance list the mobile version sits. Should it be ‘mobile first’ (designed to look good on mobile and then converted for those visiting when on desktop/laptop computers)?

15. Approval and Revisions

The thumbs-up zone! This section defines the process for collecting client feedback at various stages of development, along with provisions for revisions and changes.

A comprehensive website brief combines these elements to provide a clear guide that aligns the client’s vision with the design, functionality, and overall direction of the website development project.

How to tell if your Website Brief is working  

Tracking the progress of your website is a great way to make sure your users are getting the most out of it. If you’re curious about how to tell if your website brief has hit the bullseye, here’s what to keep an eye on:

  •  Increased revenue or sales –If your website is bringing in more sales, then it’s a clear win! More sales means your website is doing its job. Cha-ching!
  • Engaged visitors – Think of your website as a magnet. Are people sticking around? If they are exploring different pages, hanging out for a while, and not bouncing away, then you’re on the right track! Monitoring page views, bounce rates and the amount of time spent on the site provides an insight into whether the website is capturing and retaining its visitor’s interest.
  •  Achievement of goals Remember the goals you set up in the brief? If your website is hitting them, like getting lots of people to sign up or becoming a lead-generating machine – that’s a thumbs up!
  •  Positive user feedback – Mostly obtained through satisfaction surveys and tells us about the overall user experience. When people love your site and say nice things about it, you’re nailing it. Ever got a high five? It’s like that, but in the digital world. Positive user feedback is a sure sign of success.

In a nutshell, a fantastic website brief isn’t just a roadmap – it’s like your magical wand for success. It guides your project, makes users smile and even makes the cash flow. Plus, it enables you to meet your goals and create an amazing online presence. 

If you’re struggling with what you should and shouldn’t put on your website, remember MOSCOW:

  • M O – Must offer
  • S O – Should offer
  • C O – Could offer
  • W O – Won’t offer

For big websites, I like to start by writing everything the website might or might not include on individual Post-it notes – the more Post-its you write, the better – cover as many walls as possible. I then start by pulling the ones that note the MUST OFFER e.g. ‘work on mobile’ into a pile, then list  SHOULD OFFER into a pile, and then COULD OFFER. If you want to go even further, you could list a WON’T OFFER pile to indicate what is not needed (to avoid any confusion).

What sets me apart from others is the fact that I’m Neurodivergent, I’m blooming great at this exercise as I can list MANY many many features and examples of what we could, or could not offer, but then I can organise the heck out of it for you. A very useful skill set for when you need to know how to write a website brief that actually works!

So there you have it, armed with all you need to know, you’re ready to craft a fantastic brief that will bring your website vision to life! If you’re still unsure, I can help you out, just get in touch and we can go over your needs and how best to proceed. My team and I could even be the ones building the website for you (but we’re also happy to work with others if you have someone in mind).