What is a creative brief
Creative brief is essentially a vision of your future website, structured and presented in a comprehensible form. That’s why you don’t necessarily have to be technical-savvy to do it, the only thing you need to know is what you really want and expect from your future website.
There are more people who want to have their own website than those who are following Kim Kardashian on Twitter, and that says something. Still, not everyone understands where and how to start, so that’s why we’re here today.
First of all, let’s get rid of some delusions that may prevent you from owning your own website. The main delusion is that you should be a technical-savvy person to write a product requirements document, or simply a brief for website. Now let’s put it this way – it ain’t exactly true, and you’ll see it in just a few seconds.
How to write a creative brief
There are different approaches to develop a creative brief for website. You can spend years learning stuff and getting yourself a Doctor’s degree in creative brief-writing (the hard way), or you can do it by simply applying basic knowledge and common sense (the easy way). I guess most of you are here for a certain practical purpose and want to get things done, so we’ll go the easy way.
Now here’s a little game I’d like to invite you to play: I offer you a few website-related questions and you answer them. Write down the answers, and you will get a decent brief for your website.
What are the goals of your website?
This is the most important question, as it basically defines your whole website. In order to provide ourselves with a thorough answer, we may want to break the main question down into a few shorter bits. Here is what it may look like:
- My website should boost my brand recognition
- My website should promote my products/services
- My website should make visitors aware of my products/services
- My website should sell products/services online
- My website should provide visitors with an interesting content.
Choose one of the suggested options or create your own based on them.
Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s move on to the next thing and answer a few short simple questions:
What are the key actions that visitors should perform on your website?
- Order a product
- Purchase a product online
- Call you
- Subscribe to your mailing list
Perhaps, you can add other items to this list, depending on what you’re expecting from your future site visitors.
Would you like to have your site in multiple languages? If yes, how many and which?
Depending on your answer, the website development services cost may change – the more languages you are to feature, the higher the expenses. As a start, I’d recommend you to use just one language – the one that is primarily spoken in the given region. And that would be a wise thing to do – if your website takes off, you can always add more afterwards. Just don’t forget to mention that in your product requirements document.
This was the developers will know that they’re creating a monolingual website with the possibility to be upgraded to a multi-lingual site in the future.
Do you need your website to have integration with a certain management system or software?
This information is crucial for website developers. If you’re already using a business system (CRM, accounting etc.) and would like it to be integrated with your website, STATE THIS CLEARLY in your product requirements document.
If you plan to sell your products/services online, you will probably need a payment system. Just like with the languages, don’t rush it, trying to add all payment systems, known to mankind, to your website. Narrow your choice down to a few options, such as: credit card payments VISA/MASTERCARD or payments via PayPal. You can always add more in the future if you need to, but let’s keep it simple for now and save some money on things we don’t need right away.
What is your business and how do you position yourself on the market?
Here, you should go into as much detail as possible. There is no right or wrong answer, cause it’s basically a matter of personal choice – your choice. What we can do though is break this question down into a few short bits and answer them one by one.
What type of business/market your website is into?
Try to answer this by providing the exact type of business/art or market niche/segment you want your website to be in. Try to be as specific as possible – this might really help during the website development and design stages.
Describe your job/hobbies!
Try to write down everything you do for living or for fun. Don’t be afraid to get into the details, that you think are important, write why they are important and why you are doing it in the first place.
What products/services/content you are offering?
List all the things you’re planning to sell on your future website. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a product or a service, just get it down right. If your main focus is content, e.g. a popular actor or your coin collecting hobby, describe it briefly.
List all the competitive advantages of your product or service.
Why is your product or service better than other similar products or services? You need to state as many facts as you can. It would also be nice if you could do a comparison study on your products/services and that of your existing competitors.
Who is your target audience?
Answer this question to find out who you’re there for. This is crucial for both your future website development and promotion. Try to describe an ideal Buyer Persona (Visitor) of your website. Here are a few tips:
- Gender – who is your main audience, men or women? If it’s both, try to estimate the proportion of male and female visitors of your future website.
- Age – try to set an age range for your ideal visitor. If you can provide several age ranges and specify their share in percent, it would be just PERFECT! For example, 18-24 – 20%, 25-35 – 55%, 36-50 – 18%, 51 and older – 7%. Of course, these would be approximate numbers, based on an assumption – you can change them based on the actual data later, but for now it’s OK.
- Social status – here you want to describe such characteristics of an ideal visitor as profession, nationality, specific skills, education, and charisma. Perhaps, you want to create an online help center for disabled people – write it all down!
- Income level – describe your ideal visitor’s income level, how much he or she can afford to spend.
- Lifestyle – it’s quite obvious here, just write down a few notes describing your ideal visitor’s lifestyle.
It might be useful to describe psychological profiles of your visitors: how they view your website and react to it and the world in general.
What emotions should your website evoke in people?
Be brief here – use mostly adjectives that describe emotion. Here are a few tips:
- Audience opinion
- What should the person think about you/company?
Use them to answer question number four.
Are there any elements of corporate design?
Not your average everyday website brief question, huh? Nowadays it’s all about the brand and those who have it and care about it, usually succeed. And it turns out that people/companies may often have such elements, here are just a few examples:
- Logo – preferably in vector format (.AI – Adobe Illustrator and other similar formats). Don’t forget to mention it and attach the logo graphic file to your product description document.
- Slogan – it’s not uncommon when people/companies that don’t have a logo, have their own slogan! If you’ve got one too, write it down.
- Catch phrases are very popular now. There is plenty of information on the Internet and social media, so it’s not that hard to pick a good catch phrase for your website.
- Corporate colors – if you have them, DON’T FORGET TO MENTION THEM. This way the designer will pick the appropriate matching colors for your website.
- Pictures or graphics on your website – some businesses have their “mascots.” They are usually animals, or creatures, in general. Mascots are an integral part of the corporate style. If you have a mascot too, just make sure you attach the appropriate graphics file.
Do you have certain color preferences for your website?
If you can’t imagine your future website in any other color than pink (or any other color for that matter), put that down too. You can use the questions below as tips for this task:
What colors do you want to use?
Just list them, and state why you want these colors. What would be the main color? Don’t be afraid to use adjectives that describe the feelings that you get wh
en you think of a particular color. It really helps!
What colors should be avoided? List them.
What background color scheme do your prefer? Monochrome or patterned, dark or bright – it’s all up to you. Writing it down will make designer’s life much easier!
Provide links to the sites of your direct or potential competitors, or simply the sites that you like.
This is an easy one. You just have to search for a few good website examples on the web. You can summarize your thoughts in the form of this table below:
- Website – Google.com
- Things I like about it – Minimalistic, easy-to-use
- Things I don’t like about it – n/a
- Grade – 10 out of 10
Don’t be lazy – go and study your competitors’ websites as well, put them down in that table too. Give general descriptions, this might help actually. Try to find out as much as possible – who knows how many great ideas may come to you while you’re at it!
List the sections, which your website is going to have
This is the least pleasant thing to do when drafting a product requirements document for a website, but it’s quite important so you’d better get it right. Just by simply providing a detailed description of your website’s structure you can save yourself a lot of time, trouble, and money when it comes to promoting the website. If you’re not sure how to make a list of all the sections you want to see on your website, try looking up similar sites, and show them to your developer. Still it’s better than nothing!
Which website-related tasks can you do by yourself and which do you have to order from the other people?
Yep, that’s right! That’s the question you want to answer last. “But why?” some of you may wonder. Here’s why:
- You have to do it to make clear for yourself, what to order and what to do on your own.
- If you provide the developer with the list of such tasks, boy will you have a nice discount! Developers (and not only them) tend to like and respect people who are well-organized and have things planned out beforehand.
Here’s a list of different tasks you will have to do after your site is in the flesh.
- Website promotion – a whole set of tasks aimed at pushing your site towards a higher position in organic search results, contextual advertising, social media marketing. There are also certain activities, which help attract visitors to your website, and convert them into customers if needed. I propose you to read article “On-page SEO Checklist: How to Build a Perfectly Optimized Website Page“.
- Technical maintenance – the title speaks for itself. Typically it includes such sub-tasks as remove malware, adding functionality, fixing bugs, code refactoring etc.
- Design and graphics maintenance usually features such sub-tasks as creating custom designs (e.g. for holidays), banners for the site and marketing campaign, collecting and sending out emails etc.
- Adding initial and subsequent content to the site – most of the time you will have more information than time to add this information to your website. If this is case, hire a special person (sub-editor) for the task. Subsequent adding and managing content may also take up a lot of time, so you definitely want to consider hiring yourself a content manager – it will save your precious time for the more important tasks.
- Copywriting is quite an important task too. To promote your site successfully you’ve got to have constantly fresh, original, and interesting content. More about successful content strategy you should read this article “What is content marketing: guide to successful content strategy“. Statistics shows that 70% of website owners would delegate this rather sensitive issue to professional copywriters, as there are certain guidelines you have to follow to make it right.
Furthermore, I wanted to mention here is that you might already have some content ready for the website. If so, let the developer know about it.
Just by simply answering the 9 questions above you might get yourself and your developer a fine creative brief.
Now let’s talk about the budget. Don’t try to create a fancy high-end website with mind-blowing functionality and features, especially if you’re tight on the budget. It’s always better to start with something basic and then add fancy stuff as you go, than waste all your money on things you might not even need.
One last thing – you had better order a website from professional web studios with good portfolio. This way you may benefit from having every specialist you need in one place, rather than searching for various freelancers online.
Thanks for taking your time to read the today’s «How to Write a Creative Brief for a Website» article. I hope this was useful – there’s really not that much to it, just some common sense, and your constant inner drive for success. Good luck with that website of yours – it’s got to turn out great!
The right thing to do would be share this article with your friends on the social networks – just click on one of the icons of social media, it’s that easy.
If you have further questions on the subject, please write them in comments – I’ll be glad to answer.