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You’ve decided that a new website is required. The next step is to appoint a website development agency to work with.

To do this properly you’ll need to write a website briefly. Too little information about your requirements and you’ll get confused when comparing agencies’ responses. Too much information and you could miss out on tapping into the inspiration and experience that website design agencies have to offer.

Website brief guide

We’ve created a website brief guide to help you come to the right decision and ensure that the process of creating a new website is a pleasurable and productive one.

1. What are you trying to achieve?

The answer to this is not ‘a nicely designed website’. This should be a given, no agency goes out to create a ‘badly designed website’!

Here are some suggestions of what might be important to you:

  • A re-brand has just been completed. A new website is required as part of the brand implementation.
  • The majority of leads are generated online; therefore, the new website needs to be flexible so that digital marketing campaigns can be created, guiding prospects through a funnel depending on their needs.
  • Products are purchased via the website; therefore, e-commerce capabilities are required, easy to update with new products linking to stock levels in the back office system.
  • Contacts provide information by completing a form on the website. The aim is to reduce time rekeying this into back office system; therefore, a link between the two systems is required.

Understanding exactly what you are trying to achieve with your new website, helps us to provide an accurate and meaningful proposal. We’d be able to provide supporting information about how we’d deliver the functionality you require, such as flexible management of content or integration with e-commerce applications (or similar applications that add clever functionality) or how we’d link to CRM systems and operational databases.

2. Audience and Customer Base

It is really helpful to explain in some detail the range of products and services that you offer and the demographics of your target audience. Who are your customers? What do they look like? Why do they use you? And, where are they found? That way the whole project is geared towards the people it is designed to target. It is also important to specify the kind of clients you don’t want, as well.

3. Timescales

Do you have a compelling event when the website must go live? We’ll need to know.

Any good website agency will have a lead time, so unlikely to start immediately. In fact, if they say they can, alarm bells should ring.

We have a robust website development process with seven stages, starting with an initial meeting and proposal then discovery workshop, after which a wireframe is created.

Expect to be provided with a schedule of dates. Typically, we allow 10 – 16 weeks, but could be longer depending upon the size and complexity of the site or the project team involved. This is a process that can’t be compromised.

4. Content

Content creation is often the stage that holds up a website going live. Include in the brief who is responsible for the content and ask when the agency will need it, or you’ll have access to upload it so everyone can work to a schedule.

5. Project Team

The other reason that website timescales can slip is the number of people involved. The more people involved in the project the slower questions are answered and feedback is delivered. It’s helpful to include in the brief who leads the team and who else is involved, including contact details. It is crucial to identify who has the final sign off for each stage to ensure they are ‘in the loop’ throughout the project.

6. Budget

You get what you pay for, hence understanding the budget you have for your website is really important.

We will be honest about what can be achieved with the money you have to spend.

There is always a reluctance to offer a budget, and that is understandable as you want to know what an agency can offer. It can, however, be a counter-productive approach. You might go out for three quotes, the lowest comes back at £3,000 and the highest quote comes in at £12,000, with one in the middle at about £7,000. One feels too cheap, one feels very expensive and one seems like the obvious choice as it is in the middle. If you were to send a brief out that said: “our ideal budget is £6,000, but we would be willing to move to £8,000 if justification and value for this increase can be shown”.

Now you enable the lower quote to build in more functionality rather than trying to compete purely on cost, the higher quote to scale down their deliverables or graciously decline to submit a proposal, and the middle quote gets to justify their cost. Now you have a better situation, choosing from quotes that are more easily compared like-for-like.

You also want to stipulate a clear and understandable break down of costs so you are able to compare one website design agency to another.

You have to know exactly what you’re getting for your money.

Remember to check (or ask if it’s not obvious) if there are additional costs, such as content uploads, initial SEO optimization or simply if VAT is included in the price.

7. Images and video footage

Include in your website brief if you will be providing images or video footage. If not, you’ll want to see this as an item in the quote. Provision might need to be made for a photographer, alternatively, stock imagery may be preferred.

Summary

The more information you can provide in your website brief the better. It helps the agency to deliver a better response to your initial request. But, most importantly it will enable you to accurately compare one agency with another and make the right decision as to which agency to trust to create an excellent website.

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