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V E RY DAY W H I T E PA P E R 20 16

HOW TO WRITE A GOOD DESIGN BRIEF?


V E R Y D AY W H I T E PA P E R h o w t o w r i t e a g o o d d e s i g n b r i e f

What is a Design Brief & why do you need one? As designers, we recognize that buying design and innovation services can sometimes be a bit tricky. By nature, the result of the work is unknown, and even if the process is clear before a project starts there are usually unexpected bumps along the way. However, solid initial agreement on expectations can substantially smooth out the process. A well written design brief is your first step. At Veryday we often sit down with our clients to write or redefine a brief together so the right objectives and expectations are clearly set at the beginning. Collaboration usually leads the way forward faster. In an effort to share some of my experience in this area, I’ve outlined a few key points for clients to think about when briefing a design consultancy about a project. A design brief is a document that, in condensed form, contains background and key information about a potential design project. It includes an overview of your business and the specific needs and desired outcomes the project sets out to deliver. It also incorporates practical details like timelines, budgets and deliverables. The purpose of a design brief is to frame a business challenge or problem, as well as the desired business outcome – rather than prescribe how the challenge should be solved. After all, that’s why you’re turning to a design consultancy in the first place.

V E R Y D AY W H I T E PA P E R h o w t o w r i t e a g o o d d e s i g n b r i e f

The Key Components There are five main sections that are useful to cover in a design brief. Each project has its own specifics but generally, completing these gives you a good starting point.

Making sure you have a team on board that will work well togehter and that truly understand what you want to achieve.

What is the purpose of the project, and why is it important? What is included and what is not?

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It is a Relationship

Purpose & Scope

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Organization & Success Factors

Background & Context

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Timeline, Budgets & Deliverables

Key players involved and key factors that will influence the success of the project.

Short description of your company, the background to the project and the market context.

Practicalities, limitations and expected outcomes.

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Look from two perspectives: first, from a business perspective, and second, from the target customer perspective.

PURPOSE & SCOPE 1 2 CONTACT DETAILS

Include contact details for those on the client side who can answer questions the design consultancy may have about the brief.

PURPOSE/PROBLEM OR NEED STATEMENT

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Why is this project required, and what are key problems to solve or opportunities to capture? It’s a good idea to look from two perspectives: first, from a business perspective, i.e., what do we want to get out of this project as a business? and second, from the target customer perspective, i.e., what’s the solution supposed to solve for target users?

OBJECTIVES/GOALS

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BACKGROUND & CONTEXT 1 COMPANY BACKGROUND

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What are your project objectives and what specifically do you want to accomplish?

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Clearly state the expected scope of the project.

Give a short background about your company and its history. What are the key events that have led to the situation you face today? How ready is the company for change, and what are expectations regarding change or challenging existing perspectives? Is design and innovation at the heart of your business or is your company new to working with design methods?

CONTEXT Describe the current context and the situation the project intends to address. This may include a brief overview of relevant political, economic, sociological, technical, environmental and legal factors.

SCOPE | IN SCOPE Clearly state the expected scope of the project – and potential problem areas.

SCOPE | OUT OF SCOPE Defining what’s outside the scope is equally important. Often, other projects are delivering on other work streams in parallel. It’s difficult for an outside consultancy to know of these activities.

MARKET CONTEXT | GEOGRAPHY Where will the solution be implemented? Provide geographic market information and relevant details about the significant differences between key markets, for example U.S. and China.

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What’s your brand vision and what does the design consultancy need to know to help you bring it to life?

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MARKET CONTEXT | TARGET USERS Who are the customers or segments in these markets you want to target with the intended solution and what do you know (or not know) about them? If you’re aware of unmet needs, what are they? Do you work with an established segmentation model or certain customer personas and profiles?

MARKET CONTEXT | CATEGORY Briefly describe the category your product or service falls into and the competitive environment. For example, maybe your objective is to find new customers in new categories.

BRAND VISION | DETAILS Design work always relates very closely to the brand. It’s part of building and moving the brand in the direction you want to go. What’s your brand vision and what does the design consultancy need to know to help you bring it to life? Provide relevant details and guidelines related to the brand.

TECHNOLOGY REQUIREMENTS Are there specific requirements, such as precise technologies that need to be used or certain performance demands? Are there criteria for functionality that need to be fulfilled?

TECHNOLOGY REQUIREMENTS | REGULATORY ISSUES Are there any regulations or standards the solution must adhere to?

TECHNOLOGY REQUIREMENTS | CONSTRAINTS Clarify specific constrains that may limit the project in any way. For example, use of particular technologies, platforms, languages, production methods, etc.

TIMELINE, BUDGETS & DELIVERABLES 1 TIMELINE AND BUDGET | TIMELINE & DEPENDENCIES

What are the critical dates or milestones this project needs to deliver against? How long is required for feedback after each milestone and who’s providing it? Are there any “go” or “no go” milestones that need to be set up? Do other work streams require synchronization? A visual timeline that outlines these details is often helpful.

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TIMELINE AND BUDGET | PROJECT PHASES

What are the critical dates or milestones this project needs to deliver against?

Are there already predefined phases you expect to be followed? If yes, provide an overview of what each phase is comprised of.

TIMELINE AND BUDGET | BUDGET What’s the expected budget for this work? It’s easier to create a relevant proposal when a detailed economic framework is provided, but if no budget constraints are included it’s helpful to at least state your level of ambition.

DELIVERABLES What do you expect to get out of each phase of the project? If you have a clear idea about what you need, it’s good to describe key expected deliverables at each project milestone. Are there considerations related to formats and/or platforms for these deliverables? Think about outcomes and transformations the deliverables must achieve.

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Projects are collaborative and results depend as much on what’s done internally as what’s provided by the consultancy.

ORGANIZATION & SUCCESS FACTORS 1 PROJECT ORGANIZATION

All projects are collaborative and results depend as much on what’s done internally as what’s provided by the consultancy. Who on the client side will work on the project and how much time will they put in? Are other consultants involved that need to be coordinated with?

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PROJECT ORGANIZATION | KEY STAKEHOLDERS

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PROJECT ORGANIZATION | SUCCESS FACTORS

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No project runs in isolation. Briefly describe how organization around the project will work and if key stakeholders need to be engaged at certain stages. Is there a project steering committee that requires a regular project status report?

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PROJECT WIKI

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ATTACHMENTS | SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

It’s often a good idea to create a project wiki that explains key expressions used in relation to the project. From the client perspective, that could mean explaining common abbreviations and acronyms that are widespread in your organization or industry. From the design consultancy perspective, it could mean explaining or providing visual examples of the types of deliverables the client may expect, such as prototypes, journey maps, wireframes, etc.

Attachments to a design brief can be supporting documents that provide additional background on context, market and brand, or other reference materials about the product/service category. Technology and demand specifications can also be attached.

Explaining common abbreviations and acronyms that are widespread in your organization or industry is very helpful.

For the project to be successful, are there key success factors to think about from an internal point of view? These could be processes to follow or key people who need to be involved.

SUCCESS CRITERIA | MEASURES It’s often helpful to think early on about how to measure the success of a project. Which criteria will the project be evaluated against? Are there certain key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be used – either project-specific or more general within your organization? Solutions in a design project are often evaluated iteratively with customers, which can help create performance measures. The design consultancy can help you establish relevant measures.

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Feel good about working together with the individuals on the project team and confident about your foundation for collaboration.

IT’S A RELATIONSHIP In the end, selecting and briefing a design consultancy is a lot about personal relationships. You need to feel good about working together with the individuals on the project team and confident about your foundation for collaboration. We recommend that a brief be co-written by the client and the design consultancy as an agreement of what they want to achieve and how the project should be managed. It’s also a great way to get to know each other and align thoughts and expectations. Finally, it’s wise to avoid assumptions about what the other party may know or not know. In any new relationship, it’s important to ask as many questions as necessary to ensure that expectations are clear on both sides.

Malin Orebäck VP Design Veryday Contact for more information: malin.oreback@veryday.com +46 733 611 237

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Veryday is one of the top-ranking design consultancies in the world. We have a strong commitment to people-driven innovation as a means to enhance quality of life. Based on deep people insights, our 70 design specialists create innovative solutions through products and services in the physical and digital world. We are a company with an impressive track record that has helped build remarkably successful businesses for our clients since 1969. Our headquarters are located in Stockholm, and we have offices in New York, Shanghai, Dubai, and London.

veryday AB / Box 14004, SE-167 14 Bromma, Sweden / visiting address: Missionsvägen 24 / phone: +46 8 506 672 00 / Web: veryday.com

Profile for Veryday

Design brief  

While it takes a bit of time to develop a solid design brief, it’s always well worth ensuring that the team has everything they need to work...

Design brief  

While it takes a bit of time to develop a solid design brief, it’s always well worth ensuring that the team has everything they need to work...

Profile for veryday