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How to Write a Website Project Brief: Free Template

If you're reading this post then you're probably thinking about designing or redesigning your website. Before commissioning your design it's important to know who you'll be working with. Obvious! But it can make or break your project.

You need to have a good relationship with the design team and everyone needs to work towards the same goal.

This post will give you a brief introduction into the key requirements of a detailed brief and what questions to include. Plus, you can download a free website project brief template which you can use as part of your plan.

Website Project Brief: The Basics

No matter whether you're investing in a new website or already own one, creating a website design brief is where you start. Communicate what your business is trying to achieve and the critical areas of the project. Consider what you stand for and how you want to convey your brand's message through your website.

It can be tricky to communicate how you want the website to look and function, but the best way to do this is tell the story of your business. Tell the designer where you started and where you imagine your business will be in the next two-to-three years.

top tip

Find a professional web design agency that understands your business history, and can deliver a website that reflects your aspirations.

Know Your Point of Contact

Again this may seem obvious, but it's important to know who your contacts are in a company. Bigger web design companies may have bigger teams that deal with different issues. Smaller teams may have a few people working on your project.

Get your contact details right! If you work for a bigger company you want to make sure your contact is right for the job. Having one person can make the process quicker but important details can be left out. Contrastingly, a large board can slow the process down as the decision making process stutters.

Create Project Teams

Get some clarity and always make sure the web design company and your team have a dedicated project team. Failing to do this shows disorganisation and the process will be chaotic.

Organised web agencies will have remote project management software installed to control the workflow. For example, Basecamp allows both parties to post updates and create discussion threads, and Slack allows the team to communicate remotely and keep everyone updated on developments.

A professional design agency will be proud of the software they use. They'll be happy to walk you through how it works and the project benefits. You should always ask what software the company uses, even if you don't know what it is!


Budget & Timing

The two golden questions! How much is it and how long will it take? Unfortunately there's never a solid answer to this. Complications can arise on both sides which causes delays. However, it isn't unheard of for projects to be finished on time and the best agencies will always work towards a date.

You'll want to give an accurate amount if you're on a budget, and an estimation if you've got more to play around with. A proper figure will be generated after the agency examine your website design brief.

Professional agencies focus on what you need, so be wary of the up-sellers who are trying to increase profit margins.


further reading

If you need more information on budgeting, download out budget template.

Project Outline

Once you've covered the basics, you need to develop a project outline. This will start out with your reasoning, like why you need a new website. You'll also state your preferences and consider what your competitors are doing.

Communication is vital at this stage, if you can't communicate your ideas they'll get lost in translation and the website won't look how you want it to.


Put simply, why? You'll here this a lot from top-quality web designers. they're not trying to be annoying, but they know they are! It's a question that's designed to make you think.

Think about why you need a website, why you need a new logo. They may save you some money! It helps the designer understand what you need. For example, if you haven't rebranded for 20 years you may need a different solution.

Plan Your Sitemap

It's always much easier for the agency to work with a proposed site map, so write down how you envisage your site's architecture and navigation structure. Even if the end project bears no resemblance to this, it allows the agency to predict the number of pages and time needed to build the structure.

When building a sitemap you need to consider what type of business you are and what functions your website has. Is it exclusive to members? Do you store a lot of images on the site? Do you sell 100's of different products?

Here's an example of a sitemap from Ainsworth Vets, see how a clear plan makes it easier to build your site (tap to enlarge).


What Are Your Competitors Doing?

Collate a list of websites that you like and dislike. Explain which parts of each site would work with your project and which parts wouldn't. This could be typography, usability or colour. Be as detailed as you can, the more information the better.

Detail a list of your main competitors and think of the areas where you're better than them. A skilled web design company will take your references and turn them into their own pieces of inspiration, so that your site is unique.


Don't can't copy your competitors, look for industry trends and create something unique.

Website Design & Style

Your website's style and design in one of the most important aspects of the project plan. It has to reflect what you stand for. For example, you wouldn't use bright, vibrant colours if you need a website for a funeral directors.

There are many different design aspects to consider, is it authoritative? Corporate? Minimal? Clean? You may want to brainstorm with your project team and build ideas from that.

Do I Need A Digital Marketing Strategy?

Whilst you may only be thinking about getting your website built and how to create a website project briefs, you need to be proactive and start planning a marketing strategy. This will get people on your website and increase leads and sales.

Ask yourself the following questions;

  • Do you have a marketing budget?
  • Do you have a marketing strategy?
  • Do you think you should have a marketing strategy?

Professional web design companies may not have the resources to build a marketing strategy, if you require marketing you should look for a full-service digital agency. They will ask you how your marketing goals tie in with your business goals.

They'll talk about different styles of marketing like inbound, search engine optimisation and PPC. Make sure you go with the method that best suits your business.

Maintenance & Training

Often overlooked in most website project briefs is maintenance and training. You will need to know if their are any maintenance costs or annual charges for the hosting of your website.

If you're going to be developing a content strategy as part of your website project, make sure you get training on how to manage, edit and create content with your new website. Most websites come with features that allow a non-technical person to manage all the pages on the website.

Additional Notes

You should finish your website design brief with a short conclusion or list anything else you feel would be beneficial to the project. Don't forget to include timescales and be realistic.

Editors note: This post has been revamped and updated for 2018. At Red-Fern, we love keeping our content fresh, it ensures our articles are up-to-date, relevant and accurate!

FREE Website Project Brief Template

• Create a detailed brief • Ask the correct questions
• Create a strong relationship with your selected agency


Pro tip: A detailed project brief will deliver greater success and long-term business goals

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