Page 1

Briefing a Web Designer The small business guide to briefing a web designer

MGWD001 MAR2017

www.fpb.org


A guide to briefing a web designer An essential web presence These days, having a website is crucial to most businesses. But a new website can be a substantial investment, so it pays to get it right. Equally, many businesses also fall into the trap of building a website and then never updating it. But your business is not static, it is changing all the time and your website needs to reflect this. New, interesting and relevant content will have visitors and search engines coming back to your site again and again. But where do you start if you aren’t au fait with web technology? The chances are that you’ll have to use a web design company to get your business website up and running and delivering for your business. We have put this guide together to set you on the road to building an effective presence for your business on the web. Whether you’re starting from scratch or you want to give your existing website a new lease of life, this guide can help you select a web designer and create an effective brief so that your website works as hard as it can for your business.

Choosing someone to build your website Understand what you want from a website Before you even start looking for someone to build your website, you need to have a very clear idea of what you want to gain from it and how this ties into your overall business goals, for example, more leads and enquiries, online sales, event registrations, increased awareness. With this in mind, it will be easier to choose the suitable person or company to build your website, plus you’ll be able to track the return on your investment and measure the success of your website in the long run. Look for inspiration Get a good idea of the kind of websites you like and aspire to. What kind of design and structure do you think will work well for your website? What sites do you find most easy to use? Your web developer will try to interpret your vision into a fully functioning, well designed website, but you will need to be able to tell them what you do and don’t like – and why.

Forum of PrivateBusiness

Visit fpb.org


Don’t judge based on price Asking how much a website costs is like asking how long a piece of string is. The cost can vary depending on what you require and who is carrying out the work. For example, an agency will almost always be more expensive than a freelance web developer. Just because one is more expensive than the other, it doesn’t necessarily mean their work is of a better quality. Establish how much you have to spend and then try to find the service which offers the best value for money. You should also make sure that you check that there are no hidden costs, for example, will you need to pay them extra for hosting your site? Always ask to see their portfolio You should judge a web developer or agency on the quality of their previous work. The great thing about websites is that you can easily (and discretely) visit them and testdrive them. Do their sites load quickly? Do they work in different browsers? Are they well-designed and easy to use? Are their designs all similar to each other or do they demonstrate variety and creative flair? Ask for recommendations and references Ask colleagues and friends if they can provide a personal recommendation of a professional web developer or agency. Also, ask prospective developers and agencies if you can speak to other clients. Getting an honest reference about someone’s work can tell you a lot more than any sales pitch. Look for similar work If you have special requirements for your website, for example an e-commerce driven, community based, or animated site, look for someone who specialises in this type of work. Keep it local Thanks to the wonders of the web, it is possible to get someone on the other side of the world to build your website. But working with someone within commuting distance can make the process much easier, especially if you would like to meet with them faceto-face. Look for added value Some website companies will offer complementary services, such as online marketing advice, reporting on how many people use your website and search engine optimisation. This is often offered at an extra cost, but it can be easier to manage just one supplier. Decide how your website will be maintained Will you need access to the website to regularly update it? If so, ask how you will be able to do this. Some sites use a content management system or are built on a blogging platform like Wordpress, which makes your site easy to update yourself. If you need this kind of functionality, make sure you include it in the brief. Some developers or agencies may manage the content for you if you don’t want to do it yourself, though you will usually have to pay extra for this.

Forum of PrivateBusiness

Visit fpb.org


Will you own your website? Something that many new to commissioning websites overlook is who owns the website. Depending on how the contract between yourself and your developer or agency is written, they could retain ownership of the design or the structure (i.e. all the databases that sit behind it). If you want to own your site outright, ensure you specify this from the start, but expect to pay a higher price for it. Write a clear brief Before your developer or agency proceeds with any chargeable work, provide them with a clear brief outlining your requirements and what you expect to be delivered, then ask them to quote a price based on this. The next part of this guide tells you what you will need to tell the designer and can be used as a basis for your own brief.

Telling your designer what you want To maximise the chances of getting what you want from your website you need to put together a detailed brief for your designer. The brief should specify the structure, content and general appearance of the site, clearly state what will be supplied by you, include a deadline and – most importantly – opportunities for you to approve the design and content of the site before it is completed. Changes made at an early stage are generally easier and cheaper than those made when a lot of work has been done. This guide should be enough of a template/checklist to get a solid response back from any design and build partner. It gives you the topic areas you need to address in creating your design brief and the more detail you can put into it, the better. So answer these questions and send off your brief to your ‘long-list’ of possible web design partners – or your favourite one if you have already got a relationship. Don’t make that long list too long though – agencies and freelancers alike are talented, busy folk and no one likes a pitch list of twenty. And you’ve no doubt got more things to do than time allows, so reading through lots of proposals is bad news all round. Ask about, look for recommendations and hand-pick a small number of potential partners to talk to. Don’t request or expect finalised interface designs back in the first response. A good agency/freelancer will go through various stages before they get to pixel-perfect, onbrand designs. You’re selling yourself short if you ask them to come back with great interface designs on receipt of this initial brief. ‘Design’ covers the range of objectives to meet: marketing, technology and brand/ creative expression within an engaging interface (and increasingly across a range of devices including smartphone and tablet). Lots of planning and decision making comes further down the line from the web team you commission, for example they’ll plan out things like site visitor personas (from any research if you have it), they’ll devise site maps, wireframes and technical/functional specifications, consider usability and accessibility etc – before coming back with designs.

Forum of PrivateBusiness

Visit fpb.org


Note that questions about budget and timescales are up front. This can save a lot of the ‘dance’ clients and agencies can get into, that ‘piece of string’ conversation needs to start somewhere. Feel free to copy and paste the headings below into your package of choice to add your answers or additional info.

What your brief should contain 1. Budget • It can be a difficult to provide a guide to what you are prepared to spend but this will really help the design partner look at realistic creative/technology/content solutions for you. • Allow for ongoing costs (hosting, content load, content creation) as separate budgets lines if applicable. • If you have no fixed budget the design partner will of course create an estimate but a guide upfront helps with realistic proposals from them. 2. Timescales • Are there set timings in place e.g. to coincide with a product launch or ad campaign that need to be considered? 3. Website objectives • What’s the site for? • What is the overall purpose of the site? •

Do you have any specific metric objectives/KPIs? For example to create x number of sales enquiries, to convert x% of site visitors to an online (shop) sale, to change how your business/brand is perceived, to make company literature easily available to download and/or share (via social platforms) etc.

4. About the website • Is this to be a new site? Or a refresh/rebuild of an existing site? • Why does the old site need refreshing or rebuilding? • If there is an existing site/s, list the urls in section 12. • Should this site stay live or redirect to a holding page during rebuild? The design partner can advise in any SEO implications on this. • Provide any analytics/reports (Google or other) that are available for interrogation by the design partner (spotting current blocks to conversion or interaction, site visitor stats, mobile usage etc is good at this stage. 5. Background to your business or brand: • What do you do? What are your services/products? • Listing these out will help with an initial site map – ensuring all aspects are covered in the architecture of the site.

Forum of PrivateBusiness

Visit fpb.org


• Are you UK based or have international markets? Does the site need to be multilingual? • Do you operate from multiple offices and will each office need to update content on the new site? 6. Target audience • Who is this site for? • If you have a range of potential site users/customers – please provide any quantitative or qualitative research material you have available that describes each segment. • If you’re not sure, think about who your ideal customer would be and describe them. • Will they be coming to the site for different reasons? What do we want them to do? • Are there any typical user journey/visitor scenarios you have already documented, that you can share? 7. Competitor set • List out competitors websites in your sector that you are aware of. • If you have any insight/research into on how these sites are perceived provide this. • Provide your views on those you like and why, not just the design but also the content they offer. 8. Marketing considerations • Do you have segmented marketing/advertising campaigns running that require specific landing pages e.g. based on a specific offer/product. • When people land on the home page, what are the primary calls to action you need to address? e.g. ‘Buy now’, sign up for a newsletter etc. • Do you have existing brand/marketing videos (now or planned) that should be featured? If you have a YouTube channel, provide the url here. • Do you have animation, infographics or diagrams (now or planned) that should be featured? • Do you have specific environmental, terms of use, privacy and/or accessibility notices (pages) that must be included? Your design partner can also advise on this and would suggest mandatory pages on the draft site map. • If you have existing or planned social media profiles (including a blog) for the business, list urls here. The design partner will also normally incorporate social share features on the site. 9. Content • Do you have ‘raw’ content available electronically? e.g. pdfs or docs describing services products, company history etc. No need to share at this stage but helps with the cost estimate. • Do you require the design partner to rewrite this with search engine optimisation in mind? This is recommended and very often the case.

Forum of PrivateBusiness

Visit fpb.org


10. Creative guidance • Do you have a single proposition and/or brand positioning to reflect? •

Will you be able to provide any mandatory brand assets – logos, colourways, any brand bibles or style guides and/or links to a marketing asset library or photography archive etc? (Actual assets are not required yet but it would be good to know if they are available in a coherent form.)

• If original photography is to be commissioned – do you have a style guide? • Or do you want the design partner to include a look and feel in their proposals. If required, the design partner will look at costs for origination and/or usage of stock images and applicable usage fees for online. • Is there a desired tone of voice for the site? •

As well as competitor sites (see section 7), do you like particular site designs/look and feel that you have seen? List these out. (While it’s good to be aspirational, some features on sites you admire may not be possible within your budget – add them in but be aware, complicated functionality and rich content requires skill and resource, so won’t (rightly) be a cheap option.)

11. Desired site functionality • If you plan to manage content changes (e.g. to a News section, About Us, product pages etc) please state as a Content Management System can then be scoped/ estimated by the design partner). • Does the site require eCommerce functionality? • Any other functionality that is desirable? e.g. ‘configurator’/calculator tools, interactive maps, data capture forms etc. 12. Technical considerations • Will the website need to link in with any existing databases or back-end (e.g. stock control) platforms you already use? • Does your IT/IS team have a preference for a build or hosting environment that the design partner should be aware of? •

Will the design partner need to consider site hosting or do you have your own servers / providers? Please list any domain names owned by the business and where they should direct to on the new site (if known at this stage). e.g. if multiple domains are in use for different markets, products, sub-brands or services etc.

Forum of PrivateBusiness

Visit fpb.org


That’s it! Attach any additional overview documents that you think are useful on your email to the design partner/s …they’ll come back with questions and/or an estimate. And then you should (a) meet up and talk it through with (say) 3 potential partners or (b) if you need to choose a partner quickly (route (a) is better!) select the best response but still meet and ‘workshop’ any Q&As, initial thoughts etc with those guys before they start to deliver concrete solutions.

Forum of PrivateBusiness

Visit fpb.org


Peace of mind that your business is protected The Forum of Private Business specialises in providing affordable employment law and Health & Safety help and advice. Accidents, prosecutions, or other adverse health and safety events may never happen to you, but if they do, the effect on your business and its ability to grow could be catastrophic. Membership of the Forum can also help you protect your business from such risks. Membership includes: • An unlimited helpline offering practical guidance on employment law, health and safety, marketing and business development • Protection for your business with our legal expense insurance, worth up to £50,000 per section of cover • Tailored advice and member services to save money, make money and help your business grow • Getting your views on pressing business issues heard by policy makers • The Health and Safety Guide - including customisable forms and templates • Access to a health and safety consultant partner to provide specific, tailored support if required By leading you through new and ever evolving legislation we leave you free to concentrate on what you do best, running your business. With memberships starting from only £14.50 per month it’s the best decision you can make for your business today!

Call 01565 626001 or visit fpb.org To keep in touch with the Forum, and stay up to date with the latest business advice, opinion and news, follow us at:

the_fpb forumofprivatebusiness Forum of Private Business

Forum of PrivateBusiness

Visit fpb.org


Our expertise is your expertise For more information on how we can help your business with simply contact our helpline team on 01565 626001, visit our website www.fpb.org or email us marketing@fpb.org

Forum of Private Business Limited Ruskin Chambers, Drury Lane Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 6HA Registered in England and Wales: 01329000 Forum of PrivateBusiness

Forum of Private Business - Mini Guide - Guide to briefing a web designer  

The small business guide to briefing a web designer

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you