How To Write A Website Brief
Everything you need to know to write a killer website brief.
Jun 11th Resources
This article references the template that we use at Univers Labs.
Why it's important
When you hire a digital agency to create a website, they will require a wealth of information about your organisation, that’s where the website brief comes in — it’s purpose is to go to the projects first principles and encapsulate everything about your competitor landscape, your business and customer needs.
This insight can then be shared among your agencies strategists, copywriters, designers, developers, technical director and creatives, arming them with the insight they need to apply their area of expertise to achieve the goals and overcome the challenges of your website project.
We recommend the brief is written collaboratively with all project stakeholders, including your chosen agency.
Right, let’s go ahead and summerise some of the critical sections of our template and explain how it works.
1. Summary Brief
This is a short intro summary of the project — try to make this short and easy to remember. This should cover the Who, What, Where, When and Why of the project. Be explicit about the deliverables i.e. is this a microsite or is it a full new website? You don’t have to provide a vast amount of background context, we have a separate section for that. You may come back and rewrite this section as the act of writing the rest of the segments may surface new requirements and goals.
"Deliver a new website worthy of a Webby, Driving 10% more traffic, with an engaging ever fresh experience, embracing our rebrand, setting *YOUR NAME HERE* apart from their competitors, positioning them as a strategic partner - not a supplier."
2. References, Inspiration and Supporting Materials
In this section, we want to list and give access to supporting documents such as websites you like and why, your branding guidelines or other visual cues such as previous marketing campaigns, anything that gives the project team some idea about the direction you would want this project to go in. Also, include links to supporting documentation you may have such as user personas. Examples of things you could include in this section:
- Branding Guidelines
- Previous Campaigns
- User Personas
- Google analytics Report
- Websites you like and why
- Brochures & Marketing Materials
3. Target Audience & Personas
An essential part of a new website project is to understand who the audience is, who are your customers, who are the people you want to use your website? Depending on your experience you may have a lot of information already — we suggest you create a persona with the following sections.
- Gender split
- Age Range
- Job Title
- Lifestyle in one quote
- Personality Traits
- 5 Needs
- Success Factors
4. Project Goals
Another very important part of the brief is to start thinking about the goals of the website — it's a good idea here to think about the quantitative goals such as traffic, leads generated or revenue for example. you may need to talk to your sales department to get some idea of what they are expecting, or take a look at your Google Analytics to see how your current website is performing. Here are some examples of metrics you may want to set targets for:
- Traffic Goals
- Leads Generated
- Sign-ups p/m
- Conversion Rate Goal
- Bounce Rate
- Pages viewed
N.B you may also want to think about some qualitative goals such as impressions you want your users to have when using the website.
5. Competitors / Comparators
There are a fair amount more sections to our brief, but one of the most valuable sections is competitor/comparators. Remember that you are more of an expert than your digital agency will be when it comes to your market, so here is your opportunity to share who your competitors are, what makes them better or worse than you? And also, who do you aspire to be? This could be something entirely unrelated, for example, you could say we want to be like Netflix, “we want our website to be revolutionary in the way we use digital technology to deliver a great experience to our clients”. Use this section to get this juicy insight out of your head and into your digital agencies head. Here at Univers Labs, we use this information to get an idea of your competitor landscape and to analyse where we can use modern web technology and design to speed ahead of your competitors.
Ok, so that’s a short summary of the critical sections of a website brief, remember when done collaboratively the process of writing the brief can surface valuable information that will lead to a market leading web experience!
The brief template alone is not enough to support the design and development of a great new website, but it is a great starting point, as part of our process at Univers Labs we then go into a workshop to discuss the briefs contents and then a strategy and visual concept phase before investing in developing a website.
Here is a Brief Template
Take a look at the brief template here — we will update it as we use and improve it.
Happy website building!