What is a Design Brief
A design brief is a document written to describe the scope and features of a design project. It is developed jointly by the Web designer working on the project and the client requesting the project.
A design brief is not intended to be a description of the actual design. In other words, the look-and-feel are not precisely defined in a design brief. Instead, a design brief outlines the goals and objectives of the website and provides details for how they will be met. Most design briefs are used in conjunction with a contract to define the terms of a Web design job.
Why Build a Design Brief
Design briefs should be part of the planning stage of any large design process. They are useful for both the designer and the client because they provide a roadmap for the goals and objectives of the site. Designers know what to focus on and clients know what will be achieved.
Where to Start Building a Design Brief
As a freelance Web designer, you will most likely be the instigator of any design brief. While it is possible that a client will have a better idea of what s/he wants from their site beyond "make money online" or "get more pageviews", most clients do not. So it's up to you to do client interviews and project planning. I recommend doing this with a design questionnaire that is filled out by the client when they first contact you. If you don't have that, then you'll need to do client interviews to get the information for your design brief.
What Should be in a Design Brief
Design briefs should include information about what the project goals and objectives are as well as deadlines and and billing or contractual issues. I like to include:
Site Objectives and Goals
- Overview of the site as a whole
- Description of the goals and objectives of the site
- Description of the goals and objectives for the project (if this is a redesign)
Be sure to get input from all departments affected by the website including: upper management, marketing, sales, and support.
A description of the typical audience member or person they are trying to attract.
Plus, where will the site be used:
- At home over slow connection
- At home over high-speed connection
- In an office
- On cell phones or PDAs
- Over a kiosk
- On a CDROM
What types of technology will be required for this project:
- Full site build or redesign?
- HTML development
- CSS development
- PHP, ASP, ColdFusion or other server-side technology
- CGIs - in what language?
- Ecommerce storefront
What type of content will the designer provide and what will the client provide?
- Graphics: icons, photos, illustrations, animation, and logos
- Localization of any of the above
What design aspects will be covered in the project.
- Conceptual design
- Creative design of the site
Include details about the project that will also be in the contract. Make sure to include:
- Pricing - you can be as specific or general as you need to be and your client demands. But be sure they understand what they are getting for the price.
- Schedule - include dates for when content is due and when designs will be approved and finalized. Be sure to include the deadlines for the client as well as the deliverables from you to the client.
- Billing - include dates for invoices and when late fees will be assessed.
- Copyright - who owns the copyright on the design and any initial samples.