Your initial contact with a designer will involve providing a brief for the project. A brief sets out the project requirements and provides markers to measure the project against as it progresses.

No matter the size of a project, a good brief is essential to making it successful. It could be a commission for a website, rebrand or a small graphic banner for a website. A brief doesn’t have to be long or go into granular detail to be good.

All examples used are fictitious.

Start by introducing yourself

Being able to say who you are with clarity and purpose will strengthen ideas on both sides.

Can you sum your business up in four words or less?

  1. Cute pet toys
  2. Expert IT solutions
  3. Personal PR services for YouTubers

And then elaborate with a paragraph. What makes you unique? Why do people use your products/services?

  1. We design and make cute pet toys. People can select customisations to suit their pet’s needs. People like our quirky designs and animal-loving attitude.
  2. We provide expert IT solutions in Woking. We offer a hands-on approach, visiting the premises within 24 hours of being called. People like our friendly, easy to understand staff and often recommend us to their peers.
  3. We offer personalised PR services for YouTubers and vloggers. We’ve been working in the industry since it began, and bring in a wealth of experience from the TV and film industries.

Share your problems

Your “why” is the most important thing to a project. If you don’t start with “why”, you run the risk of your brief becoming too prescriptive. You are engaging a designer to help you solve a problem—what is that problem? Their expertise may open up avenues you hadn’t considered.

Examples of problems might be:

  1. We aren’t getting enough sales through our website
  2. We feel that our brand is starting to look dated
  3. We can’t update our website content ourselves

And then build on those “whys” with things you know about the problems.

  1. We aren’t getting enough sales through our website. Our website stats are showing that people are getting to the checkout page and leaving.
  2. We feel that our brand is starting to look dated. We had it created years ago when the company was starting out and our identity wasn’t fully realised. We’ve noticed our competitors are looking more polished and we want to up our game.
  3. We can’t update our website content ourselves. The website has a content management system but it is hard to use and we weren’t provided with training.

What are your constraints?

Restrictions are usually money, time, technical, or personal. Your designer will need to know these early on.

  1. We have £500 to spend. The website is connected to our internal sales management system and this will need to be maintained.
  2. Our budget is £4000. We have a local exhibition coming up in two months. As well as the brand refresh we will also need printed materials for the exhibit and work done on the website.
  3. We are looking to keep costs under £10,000. Our previous website used Joomla and our team didn’t like it. We would like to see some other CMS options.

A side-note on money: no one likes talking about it, but you need to. To propose solutions your designer will need to know what budget is available. A good designer will explain the costs in their proposal. Make sure you ask questions if things are unclear.

Who’s on your team?

Inform the designer of the people involved in the project, especially the decision makers.

  1. I am the only contact for this project, and I will be signing off on the decisions.
  2. My business partner and I will be discussing the project at each step, and I will be making any final decisions.
  3. The entire team (5 staff members, one MD) will be involved in approving the work. They will also need to be included in any training.

Putting it all together – your brief

Gifts 4 Pets – Cute pet toys
[website and contact details]

We design and make cute pet toys. People can select customisations to suit their pet’s needs. People like our quirky designs and animal-loving attitude.

We aren’t getting enough sales through our website. Our website stats are showing that people are getting to the checkout page and leaving.

We have £500 to spend.

The website is connected to our internal sales management system and this will need to be maintained.

The website is built on WordPress. It is hosted with [hostname].

Our internal system is [system name]. It runs on Windows.

I am the only contact for this project, and I will be signing off on the decisions.

IT4U – Expert IT solutions
[website and contact details]

We provide expert IT solutions in Woking. We offer a hands-on approach, visiting the premises within 24 hours of being called. People like our friendly, easy to understand staff and often recommend us to their peers.

We feel that our brand is starting to look dated. We had it created years ago when the company was starting out and our identity wasn’t fully realised. We’ve noticed our competitors are looking more polished and we want to up our game.

Our budget is £4000.

We have a local exhibition coming up in two months. As well as the brand refresh we will also need printed materials for the exhibit and work done on the website.

My business partner and I will be discussing the project at each step, and I will be making any final decisions.

PR4YouTube – Personal PR services for YouTubers
[website and contact details]

We offer personalised PR services for YouTubers and vloggers. We’ve been working in the industry since it began, and bring in a wealth of experience from the TV and film industries.

We can’t update our website content ourselves. The website has a content management system but it is hard to use and we weren’t provided with training.

We are looking to keep costs under £10,000. Our previous website used Joomla and our team didn’t like it. We would like to see some other CMS options.

The entire team (5 staff members, one MD) will be involved in approving the work. They will also need to be included in any training.

What happens next

You send this brief out to people who you think might be able to help you. They might come back with more questions or request a meeting/call to help flesh out their proposal.

A proposal will set out suggestions and options for the project. It will give you an idea of costs and timescales, and include examples of work the designer has completed.

Once you’ve agreed to work with a designer, they will take you through the project schedule. This will usually begin with a contract and non-refundable deposit for the work. The brief, alongside the proposal, will continue to inform and support the work as it is carried out.

A good brief is invaluable and I hope you find the above helpful. If you have any questions or thoughts, please do get in touch via hello@jazdesign.co.uk or via twitter @jaz_design