7 Basics to Create a Good Design Brief


There are a number of basic parts that any good design brief includes. Getting on the same page about each of these in the brief makes the process much easier. A comprehensive, detailed brief becomes the guiding document for the entire design process, and spells out exactly what the constraints of the project are and what information is need to do it. In this article we’ll examine the basics needed for a great design brief which should help ease the design work and avoid any problems during the creative process. Here are the most basic parts of a design brief:

  1. Objectives and Goals of the new design
  2. Budget and Schedule
  3. Target Audience
  4. Scope of the Project
  5. Available Materials/Needed Materials
  6. Overall Style/Look
  7. Any Definite “Do Nots”

1. Objectives and Goals

The first thing that needs to be established are what the objectives are for the new design. Is this a redesign or reworking of an existing design, or is it a completely new design? Does the client have any solid ideas for what they want their project to do or are their ideas more vague? Nailing down what the goals are is important to creating a design that will be successful.

2. Budget and Schedule

Budget can be a touchy subject for some. A lot of clients feel like if they share their budget before receiving a quote, they will be overcharged or be charged the maximum amount for the least amount of money. The misconception is that by knowing ahead of time what kind of budget is being worked with, a designer can tailor services to give the customer the most benefit for their money.

Schedule is almost as important as budget. Some clients have no idea how long it takes to design a great design. They don’t understand that good design takes time, and that it’s not just a matter of creating a pretty picture. Sometimes there are certain deadlines to meet, because of events happening with their company or industry. They might have an upcoming product launch or trade show and want their new site ready for it. It’s important to find out what needs to fit within a certain schedule and whether that schedule is flexible or not.

3. Target Audience

Who are you trying to reach? A project designed for teenagers is going to look a bit differently than one designed for corporate decision-makers. Establish who the customer wants to appeal to with their website right from the beginning. If the audience is uncertain, determine who the ideal customer is.

4. Project Scope

Not every project is as in-depth as every other. Some clients want a completely custom solution. Others just want to adapt an existing template or other design. Some clients want an entire re-brand on an image, while others just want a brochure that gives basic company information. Sometimes, project scope is obvious from the goals of a project. But if it’s not obvious, it needs to be discussed.

5. Available Materials

Does you already have a logo, brochure, product photos, or other materials that would be useful to your design? Looking at existing promotional materials can shed valuable insight into what pre-established design taste is and what a clients priorities are.

6. Overall Style

Getting a sense of what is expected in terms of style is vital. Someone may have a grunge design in mind when the designer is picturing something clean and modern (or vice versa). Most clients have very distinct likes and dislikes. But they’re not always good at expressing what their tastes are. Asking clients for examples of designs they like and designs they don’t like, even if they’re the designs of their competitors, can give valuable insight into what they like and don’t like.

7. Definite “Do Nots”

At least as telling as what a client likes and wants is what they definitely do not want. Some clients hate certain elements or colors. Getting an idea of what these items may be can save from wasted time designing features that will be rejected.

A Good Design Brief is Vital

The design brief serves as the guiding document for the project. Think of it as like a business plan for a specific project. It should cover everything necessary to the project, in a manner that is easy to refer to throughout the project timeline. Effectively using a design brief throughout the process can result in a much better end result.

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