In a design agency model, it’s crucial to set up a process to understand the design expectations of the clients. It’s not only needed after we win the project but at all stages right from POC’s to calculating the project timelines to drafting customer journeys to sketching wireframes to producing designs. If we fail to get this understanding right, it might lead us to a doomed product design.
A design brief should ideally contain the objectives of the design, deliverables, scope of the project, audience, branding, budget, and timeline. Design brief with all these particulars can help you win and successfully deliver the project. However, stakeholders are not usually motivated to fill a big questionnaire. Let’s dig deeper into the components of a design brief and how you can make it effective and fun to get the desired information.
You need to get the context and background information on the company to give designers a better understanding of the business, services, and products. You can ask them to share details about their company, themselves, services and products offered and if they could share some relevant materials that might be helpful.
Objectives and goals
This is followed by the most important thing, the client’s expectations from the design, if it’s a redesign or a completely new design project. It gives you clarity on whether the client has solid ideas what they want their site to perform or if their ideas are still vague. Ask them to pen down their primary and secondary goals they want to accomplish through the design. It’s very important to know the criteria on how they will measure the success of the design.
Budget and timeline
Although clients might be hesitant to share their budget in the design brief document, it’s better to advise them to include their budget range. Timelines are as crucial as the budget because good design takes time and sometimes clients have certain deadlines to meet to match the launch with an important event. This will help you tailor services to provide them the best deal or alternative solution which is achievable within their budget and timeline.
At times, project scope is obvious from the business goals. However, if unclear you can ask your client to summarise their project and also their deliverables in advance to avoid a lot of extra work. Your client would prefer a custom-made solution, existing template or design, you need to get clarity on the product features, integrations, APIs, platform specifications, demographics, social logins, payment gateways, content update, delivery processes, and customer tickets at this stage.
It’s also crucial that you define who are you trying to reach out or your target audience. It’s better to ask your stakeholders about the personas they are targeting, sharing the demographic information and the behavioral insights gathered during research. You can even request them to share data from Google Analytics for gathering important insights on the website traffic for tapping all touchpoints.
Style, tone, and messaging
The style and tone should be consistent with the business goals. This also sets the tone for the messaging that needs to be delivered through your design. Moreover, it’s also crucial that your objectives and your strategic positioning should align with the messages you want to deliver. Sometimes clients can provide a logo, brochure, photos, and existing promotional materials which can throw valuable insights on their design taste and their priorities.
It’s also crucial to know the competitive landscape and how the market trends and conditions will impact the design. What unique do competitors offer that they don’t? This includes the features or offerings which make them different from their competitors. You can even ask them to provide a few examples of designs of the competitors they like, giving you valuable insights on what they like and what they don’t.
Out of bounds
Getting information on what client likes is not enough, you need to dig deeper into the forbidden territories as well. This saves you a lot of time and effort designing features that client will reject during the reviews.
Here are a few things you should consider for an effective design brief
- Short and crisp, outlining the most critical points to find out what client is envisioning for the project.
- Insist client on defining the problem they are trying to solve with their product or services.
- Giving clients multiple choices in questions to choose from save a lot of time and make it a fun activity. For example, you should give a sample of different font types or color combinations to understand client’s design choices.
- Including examples in the brief also gives the client a starting point and is useful for determining design direction client has in mind.
- Collect all types of insights to determine and drive the audience. Knowing users and understanding their needs should be the highest priority.
- You should focus on something that is editable and available online, for example, Google Forms like structure can simplify the information.
- Being communicative during a brief gathering meeting is crucial for a thought-provoking discussion.
- Gain inputs from all stakeholders as all the stakeholders should be in agreement with the objectives, goal, and messaging of the product.
- Avoid confusing clients with marketing jargons or buzzwords. Complex language and questionnaire can demotivate the users.
- You can even opt for a visual design brief which provides cues and hints at every stage to enable rich conversations.
Successful design brief is a necessity
It’s necessary to get your team informed about what’s expected out of them. Design Brief helps in aligning stakeholders expectations with that of the team to define clear measurable goals. However, clients are a little lazy or an extremely busy bunch of people, so grab a pen, notepad, and sticky notes to create your own detailed document in a brief gathering meeting. It will answer all the questions and have everything you need for delivering successful Wireframes. 😉