October 4th, 2023
Welcome to the journey of refreshing or revising your website! As a digital-first creative and UX agency, we understand the excitement and complexities that come with initiating this process. We also recognise how challenging writing a website brief can be. That’s why we’ve compiled this a comprehensive checklist for you. We believe that providing a detailed and well-thought-out brief to an agency is the best way to obtain a realistic cost and scope. A meticulously crafted brief not only sets the tone for a successful project but also ensures clear communication and aligned expectations, and most importantly gets you closer to making your digital vision a reality.
We genuinely hope this checklist serves as a beneficial tool for you. Remember, if you’re not sure, we’re always here to assist you every step of the way.
Understand your scope
- Set clear objectives: Help us understand your goals. Are you aiming for a more user-friendly experience, an updated visual style, or better conversion rates? Knowing this helps us tailor our services to meet your needs.
- Identify your target audience: The more we know about your audience, the better we can design for their needs.
- Be transparent about budget: Knowing your budget up front allows us to offer the best solutions within your means. It’s better to have a rough understanding here so we all don’t run into barriers later in the project. Face the budget question head on or get ahead of it.
Take stock of the current situation
- Share previous audits: If you’ve had any website performance evaluations or user research done, sharing those insights can fast-track the initial phases.
- Highlight KPIs: What are the key performance indicators that matter most to you? This helps us focus on what really counts.
- Discuss technicalities: Are you tied to a specific CMS or hosting service? Knowing this upfront avoids later complications. Required technical requirements can be recommended by the agency or you might be comfortable with a setup you already have or are interested in. The best solution often comes down to what’s right for the project. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Features and functionality
- Prioritise features: A list of must-haves and nice-to-haves guides the design process, ensuring we meet your most essential requirements. Break these down into priorities green/amber/red (later on, marrying up with user expectation and requirements often can help that prioritisation).
- Accessibility matters: If your website needs to be ADA-compliant or meet other accessibility standards such as WCAG, make that clear, and to what level. Accessibility matters because it’s inclusive and provides equal access to everyone. At least 1 in 5 people have a long term illness, impairment or disability. In addition, most of us will at some time have a temporary/situational disability where we may have difficulties, depending on the environment, tools granted to us, and specific needs not being met. So why would we create a website, a fundamental information point for any business or service, that cannot cater for differing needs? It’s not just about design either, content and copy can make up a huge part of whether your website meets standards or not.
- SEO goals: If improving search engine rankings is a goal, let us know so we can incorporate SEO best practices from the beginning. We set websites to create the best environment for SEO. That said, it’s good to understand roles and responsibility from the outset. For instance, is there a keyword strategy in place? Does your content or current website contain meta data? How is it currently performing and so on.
- Provide brand guidelines: We want your brand to shine through the design. Sharing your brand guidelines helps us maintain consistency. It will also gives us the best possible alignment and be able to provide solutions for accessibility.
- Share inspiration: Websites, brands or designs you admire can offer valuable insights into your taste and preferences. Perhaps share a few examples of websites you like and those you don’t? To keep things concise, perhaps limit it to 3-5 of each.
- Specify UI components: If you have particular UI elements in mind, like a chatbot or a newsletter signup, mention them. We will always offer proactive thinking beyond the brief, but we welcome all ideas at brief stage.
- Offer a content inventory: Knowing what content you already have helps us determine what needs to be retained, updated or created.
- Identify content types and tags: Whether it’s blogs, videos or testimonials, defining the types of content to feature informs the layout and structure, and offers us an idea of the types of relevant content we can serve the user.
Timeline and milestones
- Be realistic about launch dates: A shared understanding of the timeline ensures the project stays on track. So much can deviate in a website project. Overestimating the timeframe is always better than underestimating it.
- Establish review points: Setting milestones for project reviews allows us to align our progress with your expectations.
- Consider a phased approach: Would breaking the project into phases work for you? If so, how would you envision the stages? This can be of huge benefit for projects under a tighter turn around time. What is essential to the UX now? What can wait?
- Coordination matters: Please select a member from your team to serve as our main point of contact throughout the project
- State your availability: Knowing when you’re available for meetings helps keep the project moving.
- Choose your preferred communication channels: Whether you prefer emails, Slack, or calls, we’ll adapt to what suits you best.
The Finer Details
- Legal requirements: Discuss any legal elements like privacy policies or GDPR compliance early on. They can often be forgotten and can later hold up a project.
- Measuring success: Let’s agree on the analytics and KPIs that will help us measure success post-launch.
- Post-launch support: If you require ongoing support, it’s better to arrange this in the initial briefing. Like lots of agencies, we offer a variety of packages to make sure you are always supported but gives you enough freedom not to be entirely tied to or dependent on us.
A comprehensive brief is the starting point for a successful website refresh or revision. It sets the groundwork for effective collaboration, ensuring a smoother process and a more satisfying end result. Feel free. to use this checklist. It’s here to help you to help us understand your brief a little better.
The main thing is to remember, whether are a novice brief writer for web or a seasoned product veteran, the key is to be honest and open. We’ve worked with a variety of clients who pose lots of different levels of proficiency. The best briefs are ones in which people are up front about it. We’re here to help not judge. Hopefully this checklist helps you. If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch.