How to write a website brief (plus a website brief template).

Craig Greenup 29/03/24, 08:00

How to write a website brief (plus a website brief template)

Wondering how to write a perfect website brief? Then you’re in the right place. Here, we look at why a website brief is so important, give you a step-by-step guide to writing one and provide a free template for you to fill in.

We get it. Embarking on a big digital project, like a new website, can be scary.

The industry is full of horror stories. About extended deadlines, budget confusion, scope creep and work just not hitting the bullseye.

Here’s the thing though. All these web project problems are actually pretty easy to avoid so long as you spend time on one crucial document at the start of every project.

That’s right, we’re talking about the website brief.

When you write a great web brief, you help your web design and development agency to produce great work.

With their creative and technical expertise plus your invaluable direction, they can create a new site that achieves amazing things for your business.

Here, we look at exactly what you need to include in your web brief to get your website project off to an excellent start.

In this guide on how to write a web design brief, we’re going to cover:

  • What is a web design brief?
  • Why do you need a website design brief?
  • How to write a website brief: step by step
  • Website brief template
  • What happens after you’ve sent a web design brief?

What is a web design brief?

A web design brief is a document that outlines the requirements of a web design project.

It gives your web design agency all the information they need to create a website you’ll love. Information about your company, customers, competitors and website requirements.

A good website brief gives direction. But you don’t need to suggest solutions. That’s the job of your web design and development team. By reading your brief, they can work out which solutions will work best for your business.

Why do you need to write a website design brief?

A good website design brief is a vital foundation for any web design and development project. That’s because it helps you to do all of the following.

Communicate your requirements

A killer brief gets your web design agency up to speed. They learn exactly what you want your site to do. The audience it needs to appeal to. The competitors it’s competing with. And the goals it needs to ace for your business.

It’s much easier for you to organise your thoughts and communicate your requirements when you use a structured brief format. (Like in the downloadable web brief template we’ve included below.)

Get an amazing website

A website brief helps to ensure that the finished website is precisely what you hoped it would be. When everything is down on paper, misunderstandings and misinterpretations between you and your agency are less likely.

Make your website project more efficient

If you’re like many of the business owners we work with, you can’t wait to have a new website working hard for your company. So it’s important that the process is as efficient as possible.

A good web design brief helps with this. You clearly communicate your requirements at the outset. So there’s less back and forth, less chopping and changing. There’s no need for time-consuming clarification so the project progresses smoothly.

Get an accurate budget and timeline from your agency

Finally, a good brief helps your agency to provide an accurate budget and timeline. When they know exactly what a project will involve and there are no unexpected additions, it’s much easier for your agency to stick to the price and deadline you’ve agreed. No surprises for them means no surprises for you.

How to write a website brief: step by step

Need to write a brief for a website? Then follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll be done in no time!

Step 1: Business overview

The first step to writing a website brief is your business overview.

Tell us who you are and what you do. Detail the products or services you offer. Tell us how big an organisation you are, how many people work for you and where you’re based.

Also, tell us a bit about your brand story. What’s the history of your company? When and why did you launch it? What are the values you like to stick to?

This background information gives us a feel for your business. And helps us start imagining what your ideal website might look like.

Step 2: Budget and timescales

We know that having the money chat isn’t always easy. But our best advice is to be open and transparent about your project budget. That’s because:

  • When we know your web design budget, we can tell you if your website vision is realistic.
  • We come up with a website project plan we can stick to because we know exactly what we’ve got to work with.
  • We won’t try to overcharge you. In an industry so saturated with competitors, we can’t afford to be uncompetitive in our pricing!
  • We want to deliver a great return on investment (ROI) for our clients. Because we care about them, of course. But also because we also like to shout about our project success in our web design case studies.

We might find little extras to suggest. Nice-to-haves that make use of any remaining budget. But you can always say no to those things if you want to keep costs down.
The same goes for website timescales. Let us know upfront if you want to launch a new site in time for a new product or an important seasonal event.

We’ll do our best to create a project timeline that fits. And can advise you if your proposed deadline just isn’t possible. It may help to look at our blog post: How long does it take to build a website?

Step 3: Your current website (if you have one)

If you already have a website, please provide a link.

Let us know whether your site content is up-to-date. For example, are you still offering the same products or services? And do you want to stick with the same website pages?

It’s also useful for us to know what you like about your current site. Tell us about any features or functionality you’d like to keep. And what is currently working well.

But tell us about all the bad bits, too. The things you dislike about your site. The stuff you want to get rid of. And anything that causes business headaches.

Step 4: Website structure and content

If you want to change your site content and structure, put this info in your web design brief. Tell us about any pages or sections you want to add or remove.

Also, provide any web content you have ready. Providing website copy, images and videos early in the process helps us create a better, more cohesive website.

Equally, if you’re yet to get started on any website content, let us know. We can provide website copywriting, stock photography and animated videos, too.

Step 5: Your target audience

Your website should appeal to your ideal customer — and help to convert them. So a good brief includes any customer and market research you’ve done.

We want to know all about your target audience. Demographic information, like their age, gender, level of education and occupation. And psychographic information, like personality traits, beliefs and values.

It’s also great if you can tell us about the problems your ideal customers face. And how your business and your website help solve them.

Step 6: Your competitors

A great website helps you to stand out from the competition. So include competitor analysis in your website brief.

Share links to competitor websites. Tell us what you like and dislike about these websites. And describe competitor strengths and weaknesses.

It’s also useful to state where you stand in relation to your competitors. What are your unique selling points (USPs)?

If you know you beat your competitors on quality, affordability or anything else, tell us all about it. The look of your website can help communicate this point of difference to your target audience and help to convert more of the right customers.

Step 7: Business and website goals

Of course, you want a site that looks great. But what else should it do for your business? You get the best results when you get really specific at this point in your website design brief.

So what are your website objectives? Do you want to improve the user experience? Or reduce cart abandonment? Perhaps you want to guide customers towards your signature range? Or maybe you want to raise your brand’s profile and target a new audience?

Also, think about where your business will be in five years. Looking ahead to the future — and telling your digital agency about your plans — helps them to create a successful business website that stands the test of time.

But remember, you only need to provide aims and objectives. It’s up to your agency to find the most effective and cutting-edge solutions. You just need to point them in the right direction by providing the goals and metrics they need to focus on.

Step 8: Websites you like and dislike

Describing the look and feel of the website design you want can be tricky. In your head, it makes perfect sense. But then you explain it to a web designer and they have a completely different interpretation.

That’s why it helps to provide some visual examples as part of your website project brief. And the easiest way to do this is with links to other websites.

These websites don’t need to belong to companies working in your industry. So you can collect examples from anywhere across the internet.

Perhaps there’s a site you really love. Or a website that solves one of your business challenges in a really clever way. There may also be websites out there that solve your business challenges in the wrong way.

Provide links to all these websites, explaining what you do and don’t like about them. This will help bring your agency closer to a website that looks and feels exactly how you want it.

Step 9: Branding

If you’ve already created a brand identity for your business, give us all the details. Share any design requirements. Like the colours, logo, typography and imagery you plan to use.

If you’re yet to develop your brand identity or want a brand refresh, this is another thing we can help with. As part of our branding service, we can design a logo and create brand guidelines.

These details can then inform your website. And you can use them across other marketing materials, too.

Step 10: Must-have functionality

Nearly there! The penultimate thing to add to your website brief is technical requirements.

What should your site be able to do? What functionality and technical features does it need to have?

Perhaps you want to allow customer logins. Or add an online payment gateway to your ecommerce website.

Maybe you want to make your website available in different languages. Or integrate your website with the third-party systems you already use for your business, like sales or email marketing software.

Also, if you’d prefer a particular content management system (CMS) or payment gateway, now’s the time to let us know.

This information helps your website development team clarify the scope of the project. And that means we can provide a more accurate quote and timescale for you.

Step 11: Hosting and maintenance

The final things to consider when writing a website brief are your hosting and maintenance requirements.

Have you already got a web domain and hosting sorted? Or is this something you want us to do?

When writing your website brief, you should also tell us whether you have the in-house expertise to host and manage your website when it’s up and running.

If you want us to arrange web hosting and/or need ongoing maintenance support, let us know. We provide web hosting, maintenance and support packages suited to pretty much any budget.

We can help with website updates and security, website analytics and optimisation, content writing and search engine optimisation (SEO). As part of our support package, we can also add new features as needed.

Website brief template

You can present your web brief in a simple Word document. But if you don’t want to faff about with layout and formatting, there’s an easy way to get started.

Just download this website brief template. All you need to do is fill in all relevant sections, save and send.

  1. Download your .DOCX web brief template
  2. Download your .PAGES web brief template
  3. Download your .PDF web brief template

What happens after you’ve sent a web design brief?

Send over a detailed brief with all the information above and you’ll make your website design agency very, very happy. They’ll have lots of incredibly useful info to go off.

After we receive a web design brief, we like to follow up with a face-to-face chat via video call.

This helps us to fill in any gaps in your brief. And explore everything in a little more detail, if necessary.

Once we have a crystal clear idea of what you need, we send over a proposal. This proposal includes a quote and timescales. If you’re happy with everything, we sign a contract and get to work on your website design project.

If you want to send us a website brief, you can email it to [email protected].

If you’re still unsure about anything and want to get some advice on writing a killer web design brief, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.