Dramatically improve your freelance web designer briefs with this easy guide
Trying to find a freelance web designer and brief a website can be pretty time consuming tasks. This is aimed at people who have never put a freelance design brief together.
Briefs vary from client to client. Let’s assume for part one of this article that you are not a design agency or someone who has worked on hundreds of websites, you are new to the world of website design.
Start with the basics
Who you are? What you do? Where do you operate from? What are your main services and products you offer? Any plans for the future of the company? If you can add more detail.
Who is your audience?
Freelance web designers need to know who we are taking to. Which marketplace, which age group etc. Where will the user mainly be using the site. Website designers will by default design a responsive website, so it works on all devices. But it is good to know if your key audience will mainly be on your site on a particular device.
A freelance designer needs to understand the company in detail in order to design something which is future proof and represents your company perfectly.
Do you already have a visual identity / website
If you have some brand guidelines in place it is very useful for the website designer to see these. This way they can get to grips with the brand personality and also see what assets you have. If you are completely starting form scratch it is important the designer also knows this.
Show any marketing materials you have. It is a good starting point for discussion about what you do like and dislike about your current materials and the direction you would like to head in.
Focus on the outcome of your website
A really good way to start a brief is to focus on what you would like from the website. Rather than tell the designer what interactions you would like and which pages. Tell the freelance designer what the aims of the website are. This way the designer can offer recommendations on how to get the most of your website.
What are your key messages?
What are your key products and services?
What would you like the user to do. Buy, sell, contact you, research, email you?
If you know your key messages, let the freelance web designer know. If you know what route your ideally would like the user to take then put it in the brief. Web designers will focus on the UX and find the best way for the user to navigate and how to make the key messages stand out. The more insight you can give about what you would like the outcome to be then the better.
Think about how you will be found
It is a crowded marketplace out there. Unfortunately we cannot rely on being at the top of google for every search. However if this is part of the plan, then let the designer know. Website designers understand seo practices and often incorporate them into the initial website plan. Seo can affect the build and design so it is worth bearing in mind.
The brief for a freelance web designer
We now have the aims, audience, key messages and idea of assets. You may not have too much detail on each but the designer is starting to form a picture of the type of site. At this stage they are probably thinking about the best platform to use and questions to ask you.
What assets do you already have or are planning to have?
It seems quite straight forward, but think about what assets you have and what assets you are budgeting for. Do you need bespoke photography or video or are you happy with stock images? Do you have video or infographics?
Do you have copy or a brief for the copy so the designer can start to see how much content there is.
The look and feel
It is ok to show a web designer which websites you like. Especially if it is a personal project and you have a strong idea of what you like. Try to explain what elements you like about the site and how it could work for you. Web design is very focused on the user, so although quite often this is useful the designer maybe able to offer alternatives.
Websites vary so greatly in price, depending on the size, functionality and platform. It is good to have a budget in mind. Ecommerce is going to bump the price up, as is additional functionality like customer log ins, or complex back end systems. If your website is anything more complex than a portfolio site, it is good to have a budget in mind.
It is also worth mentioning at this stage:
Whether you have hosting in place and a domain name?
If you have a launch date in mind?
If you are working with any other companies who will be working on the website. For example seo agencies or google adwords?
Once you have submitted this to the designer they have enough information to start to put a proposal together and ask you any questions.
Choosing a designer
Website designers have quite varied skills. Bear in mind some website designers just design websites, you provide the content and they design the user interface.
I have several clients I work this way with. However I have a background in marketing and have worked in content creation so can also help clients with this aspect of their site.
My next post focuses on the different services web designers offer so you can decide which is best for you.
In the meantime please view some of my work.