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How do you write a brief for a website?

Jean-François Arnaud
Jean-François ArnaudCEO of Blacksmith

Why do we need a brief?

If you are here, it means that you may have a project to create a website or a mobile application that you are going to entrust to a third party.

When outsourcing the development of a responsive website, a web or mobile application or any digital product to a web development agency or a web developer, it is necessary to communicate as much information as possible to the service provider.

This can be done during the first meetings, but also by communicating key documents, such as specifications, a detailed expression of need or a briefing document.

The more these elements are exhaustive, the easier it will be for a computer or web professional to meet your needs as precisely as possible and to support you in order to achieve a result that you like while achieving unanimity with your target.

Even if a good brief requires your full attention and will take some time to produce, it will be largely profitable, because this brief will allow your service provider to arrive at a qualitative result that will meet your expectations.

It is this brief that will give the project stakeholders the basis for reflection, defining your need, the project timeline, your objectives and also your budget.

Why do we need a brief?

How do you write a website specification document or brief?

To produce a quality brief, it is necessary to cover the following points:

Title, context and description: in this first part, you will be able to indicate the code name of the project and gather the main elements that led you to want to launch it. It can be interesting to remember who you are and what you do. Also indicate where you are in your creative process: is this the first project that will be created in order to achieve your goal? Is this a redesign? If so, are we starting from scratch or from an existing one to be developed?

Goals and objectives: in this part, you will present the objectives of your company, those of the project to be carried out, but also the objectives for the users of the websites, applications or products that will be developed. Do not hesitate to also indicate your fears and the obstacles to the success of the project according to you.

The target: here, it is a question of describing the target of your product, site or web or mobile application. Who makes up this target? What would motivate your prospects or target customers to use the product? What do you want users of your product to accomplish? How do you want to address this target? What should your site or app remind them of?

Competitors: it is interesting to be able to give examples of competing products, whether they are direct or indirect competitors. If you are able to say what you like or don't like about these digital products, web applications, mobile applications, competitor showcase sites... this will greatly help the service provider that accompanies you to aim more accurately in its proposals. .

It can be the user experience or the ergonomics of a product, its artistic direction, specific functionalities...

Resources and deliverables expected: you must indicate to the service provider the resources and deliverables expected following his work.

It can be graphic assets such as logos, wireframes, videos or models in a list of specific formats, detailed articles if you want an e-commerce site creation that sells your products, but also source code, documentation technique, architecture diagram, etc.

Also specify if there are technical criteria to remember or avoid in particular: programming language (JavaScript, PHP...), framework (React, Next, Node, Symfony...) to be preferred for coding the product, SaaS or CMS (for content management) to be excluded or on the contrary to be integrated, no-code or low-code tool currently used, desired host, API to be integrated, etc.

If you want a "package" work proposal, you must indicate the parts falling within the scope of the mission: domain name reservation, graphic identity design, creation of wireframes and/or models, front-end development, backend development, natural referencing (SEO) for good indexing by search engines, cloud architecture design, content writing...

Participants, roles and resources made available: in this part, we will list the stakeholders in the project as well as the roles they will have to play.

This is important, especially to indicate the roles held by your company or another service provider if you divide the work between several people (design studio, graphic designer or web designer, web development agency, web integrator or independent backend developer, CTO As A Service , etc.).

It will also be necessary to indicate the resources made available to carry out the project, it can be videos, photos, but also APIs, code snippets, etc.

Budget: it is important to specify your budget as this may have an impact on the technological choices that will be made to meet your needs. Some technologies (for example the use of Wordpress themes or no-code tools such as Bubble) make it possible to save money to have a first version of a showcase site, e-commerce site, web application or online prototype, but can prove to be insufficient in the long term compared to a tailor-made development.

Also plan a budget related to the maintenance of your product and its commercialization (marketing).

Chronology: define a public launch date for the product, this can be firm because it is linked to a particular event or "ideal", but also a date on which you will be available for the start of the project.

Your agency's project manager will certainly offer you several intermediate deadlines in order to validate the smooth running of the project and avoid a tunnel effect... plan to be involved in the creation process!

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