Starting a web design project requires planning, researching web designers and evaluating web designers. In this post I’m going to explain how to prepare a web design brief and how to interview a web designer to ensure you end up working with the right person.
5 Most Important Factors for a Web Design Brief
1. Define the Purpose of the Website
There are literally millions of websites that simply act as a fancy brochure. The content and structure do not really motivate the visitor to do anything. Having a clear idea of the purpose of a website will really make a big difference to how it is designed and the kind of content that will be created. Here is an example: “The purpose of the website is to demonstrate how to use our range of hardware products using video content”. Much better than:
“To sell our products”.
2. Define the Target Audience and Website Goals
Knowing who your target customer is should be part of your business plan. If you can create sub groups of target customers based on their needs or problems, then it will inform how the website will be organised and what content is needed. Here is an example:
Recommended for YouWebcast: A Week in the Life of an Agile Creative Team
“The target audience for the website is DIY builders, Tradesmen and Hardware suppliers.”
Much better than:
“People that need to buy tools”
Defining the goals of a website should be very specific. For example:
“Watch a demonstration video, subscribe to our newsletter, call our sales line”.
Much better than:
“Buy our products online.”
3. Website Features
Most websites are more than just information. They often have features likes a booking system, registrations, newsletters etc. Knowing what features you want before the website is built will save time and money. Here’s an example:
“The website needs to track the number of visitors and enquiries made by a contact form. It also needs to allow visitors to subscribe to a newsletter and vote on a gallery of home design ideas.”
Much better than:
“An image gallery.”
The look and feel of a website is pretty important. It needs to match your brand and project a message. It’s a good idea to describe the kinds of feelings or ideas you want people to think about. Here’s an example:
“The look should be vibrant, fresh and hardy to appeal to young builders.”
Much better than:
“It should look modern.”
Additionally it’s a good idea to provide some examples of designs. Sites like Behance are a great source of inspiration.
It might seem counter-intuitive to to tell a web designer how much money you have to spend. A lot of people have the attitude that “If I say I have X, they website will cost X”. That’s partly true, but there is a good reason for it.
It’s best to start with a maximum budget in mind.
A web designer will then provide a quote or proposal explaining what can be achieved with that budget. There is always room for negotiation here.
You can remove features or spend less time designing the look and feel for example. By letting the web designer know how much you have to spend, tells him or her how to prepare a proposal. In some cases clients do not have a big enough budget in which case the web designer needs to come up with an approach that can achieve as much as possible with the money available.
Web Design Brief Template
I’ve seen a lot of web design projects, and we understand what web designers need to know before they get started. That’s why I created a free web design brief template for clients to use when starting a project. Feel free to download and share it. Using a template helps to organise all of the information I explained above and makes it easier to communicate exactly what you need to a web designer. A good brief will result in accurate quotes and a better finial product.
5 Most Important Questions to ask a Web Designer
1. Can I see some live examples of recent client work?
It’s a good idea to see actually working live websites from recent clients, not just the cream of the crop they want to show you.
2. Can I contact a recent client for a reference?
You want to get a sense of what it’s like to work with this web designer, talking to a past client is the best way to do this.
3. Are there any ongoing fees?
Find out what the fee structure is for hosting and ongoing maintenance.
4. Wat is the Schedule for Deliverables?
It’s easy to get lost in the excitement and just get started. Make sure the web designer provides a schedule for the deliverables, otherwise the project could go on far too long.
5. Who owns the website and assets?
In most country copyright law says the company the created the website owns it. Make sure your agreement states that the ownership is transferred to you.
If you want to learn more about outsourcing web design services you can check out my Web Design Buyer’s Guide series which covers more topics such as:
Web design costs
Must have website features
Web design contracts
Do you have any questions about hiring a web designer?
Let me know in the comments.
If you are a web designer, do you have any other advice for clients?
Image is copyright of DesignQuotes with permission granted for reproduction for this post.