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As experienced, full-service website developers, we work with many clients from diverse backgrounds. Over the years, we’ve discovered one vital area that many clients find (more than a little) challenging—the website development brief. 

This post explains what a brief is, why it’s important and how getting it right can save you time, money and bring you joy! 

What is a web development brief?

Put simply, clients write a web development brief to educate their web developers about their business:

  • What it does 
  • Its history/background
  • How it operates
  • Its products and services
  • Its goals and vision
  • Its current challenges
  • Its target customers/clients/audience
  • How it should communicate to and with clients (design, style, tone, messaging)
  • How it should interact with clients (e-commerce, usability and functionality)

At Digital Bridge, our client brief process also includes in-depth discussions around: 

1. Your resources

  • How much time can you realistically allocate to updates, maintenance etc.?
  • What is their level of expertise?
  • Do they need training?
  • Or, do you prefer our continued support?

2. Your immediate and ongoing budget

  • Our expertise is endless, but your budget isn't. We need to make sure we maximise every $ you invest.
  • Knowing your ongoing budget too, ensures we build a manageable system free of unpleasant surprises further down the track. 

3. Your timeline, milestones and testing

  • We discuss and agree realistic timeframes so you get exactly what you need
  • We prioritise the key deliverables and identify your milestones
  • We factor in reasonable time for testing and refining your shiny new website to make sure it’s 100% right and client ready.

Why is a web development brief so important?

A great website development brief explains what you’re looking for from your new website: how it looks, how it functions and what it needs to achieve for you and your business. The goal is to get you and your chosen website agency working together seamlessly. 

However, that’s the end goal. Your brief does far more than that; clients tell us it makes them think harder and more carefully about their business than ever before. A good website brief forces clients to dig deep and analyse what they want and why. It helps them declutter and iron-out inconsistencies in their thinking and focus on what really matters. 

For larger businesses and teams, working through a web brief gets everyone on the same page. It encourages discussion, highlights and manages (often dangerous) subjectivity and leads teams to agreement— and ultimately 100% satisfaction with the end-product. 

How it saves you time and money

Certainly, website development briefs take time and some effort to complete, but the ultimate outcome is a website that delivers what you want, in the way that you want it… on budget and headache free. (That’s the joy, right?)

Now we know why we need to write a web brief, let’s look at the three most common areas that clients find most challenging.

  1. Design

    We understand how hard it is for clients to explain how they want their website to look. After all, design and web development isn’t their area of expertise – it’s ours.  We see a lot of subjectivity creeping in but, as we know, objectivity is a must in any business decision. Often, clients have seen a competitor’s website and want theirs to look the same or similar. Design, colours, typography, space … the whole shebang can be a real challenge.
  2. Planning

    We’re the first to agree that this takes time, thought and effort. In fact, here at Digital Bridge we’ve ditched the more traditional formal brief for an ‘informal-but-in-depth’ chat. We find it works best, is the most helpful and certainly more time-efficient, for us and our clients. Great planning helps to avoid changes in brief and scope creep further down the line – and it’s a huge cost-saver.
  3. Managing multiple stakeholders

    Even small businesses can have at least one more stakeholder whose opinion needs to be considered. The larger the business, the more stakeholders to manage. It can be challenging and often requires more than a little diplomacy and patience. However, it can’t be avoided. We’ve seen many a client battle with this issue and find themselves going around in circles trying to pacify everyone… without success. The good news is, we can help to ease your pain and get your project through to completion faster. 

Briefing your website development agency shouldn’t be stressful, painful or tiresome. And it doesn’t have to be.  Work with people who get you and your brand; an agency who loves to learn – and who’ll help you to learn even more about your brand and potential business opportunities too. Experienced web developers bring new ideas and fresh perspectives. Remember, they’re more than your technical expertise… they’re your partners, your cheerleaders and your champions too!

Digital Bridge designs, develops and manages powerful websites and web-based applications for Australian businesses. We are based in the heart of Fitzroy, Melbourne.