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How to write a website design brief

Lawrence Howlett Posted on 23 June 2015 by Lawrence Howlett
Category: How to work with a digital agency

Writing a good website brief or RFP (Request For Proposal) is essential for the smooth development of a great website. It forms the foundation of productive communication and is a reference point to  come back to throughout the development to ensure everyone is on the same page.   

Web design projects come in a huge range of complexity, functionality and design requirements, so for us agencies to quote we need to understand the ins and outs. It will help both parties communicate clearly what needs to be accomplished with this project to meet your goals.

To help your get started we have created some “boilerplates” for different projects types we commonly get asked to quote on. Each one follows the same format with variations in the questions, tailoring it to the project type.

Download - Content Managed Website Request For Proposal (DOCX)

Download - Ecommerce Request For Proposal (DOCX)


10 Must have elements of a website brief

Let’s explore the must have elements that contribute to a great website request for proposal.

Company Overview

Introduce your company briefly so that we can put the RFP in context. We need to know who you are, where you’ve come from, what your company does - in terms of products, services and unique selling points, and where you’re going i.e. your overall goals and mission.

Contact Information

In smaller companies this is usually the owners details (name, email, telephone, address) in slightly larger teams we will need to know who to direct questions to and who to send the final response document to along with all their contact details.

Project Overview

Describe the project as if you we’re telling a friend about it, you don’t have to be onpoint in terms of corporate voice or technical geek speak, we just want a top level overview of what the project will entail.

Project Goals and Objectives

You’re doing this project for a reason, here is the opportunity to tell us why.

  • Are you unhappy with your current provider?

  • Is your website looking outdated?

  • Are you expanding or trying to attract a new target audience?

  • Is your conversion rate low?

  • Do you require new functionality to automate tasks or simply your first content management system?

Technical Brief

Depending on your own technical capability this section will either be a couple of words or a ten page monster. You might just ask for a content management system, or want to work with a specific one like WordPress. If the project is a bespoke application you might require it written in a certain language, or integrated with an existing database. Don’t worry if you end up writing “I want a website that I can update myself”, as we’ll help you fill in the gaps.

Usability Brief

How will your customers use the website? Maybe they will access mainly on iPhones or are they going to be sat at a desk? Every website should undergo testing, at least on the devices we think our customers will be using. More complex testing like User Acceptance Testing (UAT), customer persona and user group studies may also be carried. Are there specific disabilities your website needs to cater for, like blindness and the use of screen readers? Or maybe it’s children who need a simplistic navigation structure.

Functionality Brief

What exactly do you want your website to do? Take orders online? Generate sales leads? Solve a problem with a bespoke web application? Have a members area? Do you need to upload files for case studies? Have a gallery for event photos? List out all the different pages of the website and detail exactly what each one does in plain old english.

Content Brief

A website is nothing without content, and this section is very often overlooked and thought of later down the line. In fact it is absolutely critical we get this right from the start, it might very well change the way we approach the project, influence decision on content management systems and further technical requirements.  

  • What do you want your website to say and who is going to write it?

  • Is the website going to be multi-lingual, if so what languages?

  • Video is very powerful, have you already got video, do you need it shooting?

  • Are you going to use stock imagery or commission a photo shoot?

  • Do you want all the staff to be pictured on the team page? What about pictures of the premises?  

Take time to outline who will be responsible for creating the content, what resource you have internally and their availability for the project.

Questions

Are there any specific questions you need to ask us to help make your appointment decision? For example:

  • Who will be project manager and what are their skills / experience?

  • Describe your design and development process

  • Examples of previous similar work

  • What professional indemnity insurance cover level do you have?

  • What is your hourly rate for additional development and support?

Timetable

How soon would you like the project delivered? Yesterday, right? Well time to get realistic! As a general rule of thumb our timescales are:

  • 8 - 12 Weeks for a content managed website with responsive design

  • 8 - 12 Weeks for an ecommerce store

  • 8+ Weeks for a bespoke web application

In that time you will also need to account for writing content, getting photography in place, shooting video, testing, training and deployment. In the template downloads there are some pre-made timetables to help you out.

Budget

Some clients like to keep budgets close to their chest until we quote. What we like to ask for is a ballpark, because let’s be honest neither of us want to waste time, so if you have a £500 budget, with the utmost respect, we are simply not the agency for you. If however at the other end of the scale your have a £20k budget and need a 2 year tie in for support, hosting and maintenance with a specific support level agreement then we need to know so that we can quote accordingly and meet your requirements. We’re upfront and transparent so here are our basic costs:

  • Typical content managed website with responsive website from £5000

  • Typical small Magento ecommerce store from £5000

  • Typical large Magento ecommerce store (with stock inventory, multi-warehouse, complex shipping, customer groups pricing, etc) from £15,000

  • Bespoke web applications - We can’t give you a price until we receive an RFP, we’ve been involved in projects between £5k and £75k.

  • On-going support from £75 per hour.


Summing Up

All RFPs are different, each project will have a set of unique requirements, different design elements and functionality. An RFP sets out the guidelines for a project and gives us the ability to accurately quote - we’re don’t mind if you use the templates to go to other agencies, feel free, we’re confident in our ability and have the portfolio, testimonials and experience to know we’ll be a great fit for your next project.

So get cracking, it’s going to make an excellent foundation for your project.

Download - Content Managed Website Request For Proposal (DOCX)

Download - Ecommerce Request For Proposal (DOCX)

Sending your RFP to Newedge

Please send your completed request for proposal to hello@newedge.co.uk or give us a call on 0845 128 146. We'll be delighted to help.

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