Design Brief? What’s That?

Posted by | December 15, 2008 | Design, Marketing | 5 Comments

Underwear SuperheroesWe sometimes get people who show up in our office and say, “I need a website.” They don’t really know what exactly they want or how many pages it will be. So we talk to them for a while to get the details all down on paper and then we struggle to provide what we think is an accurate quote only to find out they realized that they will need to add three more pages or they decided a CMS feature on the home page would be cool. And, oh by the way, could we provide all the content too? All the confusion could easily be avoided with a well thought out design brief. So I thought it would be a good idea to provide some simple guidelines to make the process much less painful for everyone and allow us to drive straight to the design part as soon as possible.

When preparing to work with a creatives it is always helpful to give them a design brief. This is a document which outlines the business objectives of the project and provides the designer with the necessary information to deliver the expected results. The brief will give the designer direction and prevent any project delays and scope creep. This document can also be used to request quotes from various designers. You are more likely to get an “apples to apples” comparison on the quotes if each design firm is presented with the same, well written design brief. It is more important to focus on the desired outcome of the project than the aesthetics (that’s our job). Use this guide below and you will have yourself a very effective brief to provide any (good) designer with the means to create the desired results.

10 Necessary Items to Include in Your Design Brief

1. What does your company do? What service or product do they provide? What makes your company unique?

2. Describe the project in detail.

3. What are the specifications? What size is it? How many pages? How will it be used? Provide any technical requirements.

4. Do you have a specific timeline/deadline for this project? Be as specific as possible (trade show dates, publication deadlines, product launch, etc.) Take into account the various stages of the design project such as concept development, refinement, production and delivery.

5. What is your budget for design and production work? If it is a print project, what is your budget for printing? What quantity will you be printing?

6. What are the specific goals of this project? Are you simply updating existing materials or creating an entirely new website, logo, brochure, etc.? What are your success objectives? What is the call to action? What is the customer need being met? What is the main point that you will be communicating with this project?

7. Have you compiled the necessary content (photos and text) for this project? Will the designer be required to find stock photography or art direct photo shoots? Will you be providing copy (text) or will a copywriter be required? Most designers don’t write copy they just organize it and make it look good. They can usually provide you with the name of a copywriter they are used to working with if you ask.

8. Who is your target market? Where do your clients generally find you? Describe your ideal customer?

9. Provide a list of competitors? What makes your company different?

10. Provide samples of similar projects (yours or competitors) with comments on what features you like and don’t like.

If you have any questions about this article or the design process in general, don’t hesitate to email me at


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