Effective Step-by-Step Guide: Web Development Brief

A well-written web development brief is essential for the success of your web project. It not only helps the web development agency understand your needs and expectations but also ensures a smooth and organized project process. Here’s a detailed guide on how to create a comprehensive web development brief.

 

What is a Web Development Brief?

A web development brief is a document that outlines the key information about your business, objectives, target audience, and specific requirements for your website project. It serves as a roadmap for your web development agency, helping them to deliver a proposal and quotation that accurately reflects your needs.

 

Why is a Web Development Brief Important?

Spending time on a web development brief is crucial for several reasons:

  • Clear Communication: It provides a central place to communicate your ideas and expectations, ensuring nothing is overlooked.
  • Project Organization: A well-structured brief helps you stay on track by listing all the project elements clearly.
  • Identifying Deliverables: It allows you to identify all the deliverables you expect, such as a rebranding effort, digital marketing, or building an email list.
  • Avoiding Scope Creep: It helps avoid scope creep by covering all bases from the start, reducing frustration and unexpected costs.
  • Managing Expectations: It defines your expectations and helps the web development agency recommend the right solutions to achieve your goals.

 

Who Should Write the Web Development Brief?

Typically, the business owner or marketing manager should write the web development brief. Once completed, you can collaborate with your chosen web development agency to refine and finalize it.

 

Essential Sections of a Web Development Brief

1. Overview of Your Business

Provide comprehensive information about your business:

  • Industry and Sector: Describe the industry you operate in and your position within it.
  • Business Model: Explain what you do and how you generate revenue.
  • Unique Selling Points: Highlight what sets you apart from competitors.
  • Current Website Issues: If applicable, detail any issues with your current website, such as outdated design, poor functionality, or customer feedback.

 

2. Objectives

Deciding to create a new website usually stems from significant reasons. For new businesses, it might be due to outgrowing DIY solutions like Wix and needing professional design. For existing websites, issues might include outdated design, poor lead generation, inadequate sales, or slow performance on mobile devices.

Clearly state the objectives of your new website:

  • Reasons for a New Website: Explain why you need a new website, whether it’s due to outgrowing DIY solutions or needing a more professional design.
  • Goal Statement: Create a goal statement that defines the primary purpose of the new website, such as increasing leads, improving user experience, or boosting sales.

 

3. Target Audience

Understanding and defining your target audience and market is crucial because your website is designed for them, not for you. Web design solves business problems, so it’s essential to know the challenges your audience faces and how your business addresses them. This clarity helps ensure your website effectively generates leads or sells products.

If your site isn’t performing well, it might not be resonating with your customers. Conducting surveys with existing customers or gathering feedback from people in your demographic can provide valuable insights to improve your website.

Define your target audience and market:

  • Demographics: Describe the age, gender, income level, and location of your target audience.
  • Customer Personas: Create detailed customer personas that include interests, behaviours, and needs.

 

4. Challenges and Problems

While it might seem negative, it’s crucial to be honest about the problems your business is currently facing. Clearly outlining these issues in your web design brief allows your web design agency to propose effective solutions.

For example, you might be dealing with a dated website that doesn’t generate enough inquiries and is difficult to update without your existing web designer’s help. Identifying these problems enables your web design company to recommend the best path forward.

Identify the challenges your business is facing:

  • Current Issues: Be honest about the problems with your existing website, such as poor lead generation or difficulty in content management.
  • Desired Solutions: Outline the solutions you seek from the new website.

 

5. Competitors

Competitor analysis is crucial for your web development brief. Include links to 2 or 3 competitors and highlight what they do well and where they fall short. Decide whether your business aims to stand out or fit in; there is no right answer, as it varies case by case.

Understanding your competitors’ online strategies can help identify gaps your services or products can fill. This also ensures your web design company creates a unique design that doesn’t closely mimic existing ones.

Analyse your competitors:

  • Competitor Websites: Provide links to competitor websites and detail what they do well and where they fall short.
  • Market Positioning: Decide whether you want to stand out or fit in within your industry.

 

6. Project Timescales

Stating “ASAP” for your web design project is not very helpful. Planning, designing, building, testing, and launching a successful custom website takes time. Typically, a standard brochure website takes about four weeks (two weeks for custom designs and four weeks for build and testing). An e-commerce website can take 7-10 weeks, depending on complexity.

Your web design company should set the timescales after understanding your requirements. If you’re unsure about your timeline, consider whether there’s an event or product launch to work towards. This can help establish a realistic launch plan.

Set realistic timescales for your project:

  • Desired Timeline: Specify when you need the new website, considering any upcoming events or product launches.
  • Development Phases: Understand that a typical brochure website takes about four weeks, while an e-commerce site may take 7-10 weeks.

 

7. Project Budget

Discussing budget can often cause confusion for businesses. Imagine spending an hour on a call with a web design company, trading emails, and sending over a brief without mentioning your budget. The company then spends several hours creating a detailed proposal, only for it to exceed your expectations by three times the cost. This scenario results in wasted time for everyone involved.

In contrast, providing a rough budget range, even if it’s not exact, shows that you are serious and transparent. It doesn’t mean the web design company will use up your entire budget; it simply allows them to tailor their approach to fit your financial constraints. There are many ways to approach building a website, and knowing your budget helps identify the best strategy for you. Additionally, there are business grants available for startups that your web design company can help you explore. For more guidance, check out our articles on website costs.

Provide a budget range for your project:

  • Budget Transparency: Indicate your budget to help web development agencies provide proposals within your financial expectations.
  • Funding Options: Mention any business grants or funding opportunities you are exploring.

 

8. Project Specifics

Detail the specific requirements for your new website:

8a) Website Features & Functionality

The primary goal of your project might be to introduce new features or enhance the functionality of your existing website. This could include various needs, such as:

  • Online Courses: Enabling customers to register for and take online courses directly on your website.
  • Customer Portal: Providing a secure area where customers can access their documents, account information, and exclusive resources.
  • E-commerce Capabilities: Adding a shopping cart, product pages, and secure payment gateways to sell products online.
  • Interactive Tools: Features like live chat, appointment scheduling, or calculators that help engage users.
  • Membership Areas: Restricting content to members only, with subscription plans and member management.
  • Integration with Third-Party Services: Connecting your site with CRM systems, email marketing tools, or social media platforms.

Listing these functionalities is crucial for your web design company to recommend the best approach and accurately estimate costs. Remember, functionality directly correlates with cost, so it’s important to be comprehensive in this section.

Briefing Tip: If your project includes numerous features, mark “nice to have” against any elements that aren’t essential. Often, web design projects can be broken down into phases, allowing non-critical functionalities to be added later if budget constraints arise.

 

8b) Key Pages / Sitemap

To build a website, your web design company needs to know the pages it will include. This is akin to knowing the number of rooms in a house before building. Start by listing all the pages you think your website will need:

  • Home
  • About Us
  • Services
  • Individual service pages (e.g., Web Development, SEO, Digital Marketing)
  • Resources
  • Blog/News
  • Contact Us
  • FAQ
  • Testimonials

Your web design company can then help organize these pages for optimal user experience and might suggest additional pages based on their expertise.

 

8c) Content Requirements

Determine your content situation:

  • Existing Content: Do you have content from your current website that can be reused or will you need new content created?
  • Content Creation: Plan whether you need to write new content for certain pages or the entire website.

Knowing this helps your web design company plan effectively and can inform you whether you need to allocate time for content production. Unlike many companies, we don’t require all content to be written before starting. We evaluate your existing content during the map-out stage and make recommendations.

Once the designs are ready, you can use them as a guide for how much text to write for each page.

 

8d) Calls to Action (CTAs)

It’s important to consider how you will encourage users to take action on your website. We recommend having two types of CTAs:

  • Direct CTAs: For visitors ready to make a decision, such as “Schedule a Call” or “Buy Now” for e-commerce sites.
  • Transitional CTAs: For visitors who need more convincing, like downloadable PDFs or free trials. For example, if you specialize in financial services, you might offer a guide titled “5 Steps to Easily Increase Your Pension Pot in the Next 5 Years,” demonstrating your authority and allowing potential clients to engage with your content at their own pace.

 

8e) Website Likes & Dislikes

Identify websites you like and dislike to help your web design company understand your preferences:

  • Design Preferences: Mention websites with design elements you admire.
  • Functionality Preferences: Note sites with user-friendly features or layouts you want to emulate.

Briefing Tip: Remember, your new website is for your target audience. Consider asking existing clients for examples of sites they find appealing, ensuring the new design meets their expectations.

 

8f) Digital Marketing & SEO Requirements

Plan how you will drive traffic to your new website post-launch. The “if we build it, they will come” mantra doesn’t work due to the vast amount of content online. Your strategy might include:

  • SEO Work: Six months of search engine optimization.
  • Social Media: Regular posts on platforms like LinkedIn, Meta, Reddit etc.
  • Paid Advertising: LinkedIn ads, Google Ads, or Meta ads to promote content or webinars.

Your web design company can recommend the best digital marketing approaches based on your goals.

 

8g) Domain Name & Hosting

Handle logistical details early to avoid delays:

  • Domain Management: Who manages your domain? Plan for any necessary transfers, which can take about seven days.
  • Hosting Requirements: Decide whether to continue with your current host or switch to a new provider, factoring in annual hosting costs.

 

8h) Ongoing Maintenance

Discuss ongoing maintenance needs:

  • Scheduled Updates: Regular security updates and patches.
  • Content Management: Whether you want your web design company to manage content updates or if you’ll handle it in-house using a CMS like WordPress.

Include this in your brief to ensure clarity and allow your web designer to include appropriate maintenance fees.

 

8i) Analytics

Specify your analytics needs to track website performance:

  • Google Analytics: Indicate if existing tracking data needs to be transferred to the new site.
  • Performance Metrics: Detail the key metrics you want to track, such as traffic, conversions, and user behaviour.

Briefing Tip: If you have an existing site running Google Analytics, grant your web design company access. The data from your current site can be invaluable in making informed decisions for your new project.

By addressing these points in your web development brief, you’ll provide a comprehensive guide that ensures your web design company understands your needs, leading to a successful and well-organized project.

 

Contact Information

Clearly listing who the designated point of contact is and the best way of contacting them (usually email and phone) will be information your web designers will love to see within your web design brief.

  • Contact Person: Name, email, and phone number of the project manager.
  • Communication Preferences: Preferred methods and times for communication.

 

Conclusion

Writing a comprehensive web development brief is an invaluable step in ensuring the success of your project. It helps you communicate your needs clearly, avoid misunderstandings, and receive accurate proposals. Take the time to complete each section thoroughly, and you’ll set the foundation for a successful collaboration with your web development agency.

Download our Web Development Brief Word Template to get started! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need assistance completing your brief. 

If you’ve completed your web development brief using our Word Template and would like us to create a proposal for your project, please give us a call at +90 (0212) 577 48 50 or send your brief to [email protected].

If you have any questions or need assistance in completing the brief, we’re here to help. Feel free to reach out at any time.

Ken Sibul

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Ken Sibul

Effective Step-by-Step Guide: Web Development Brief

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