New idea? New website? Here’s how to brief.

If you want to get that awesome idea in your head out into the world, you need a website. But getting someone to build the website of your dreams is harder than it sounds. 

If your brief is too vague you could end up going through ten rounds of changes, only to end up with something you’re still not happy with. Then again if you get too prescriptive, you could stifle the creativity of your designers and developers, which helps no one.Having just been through the process, this is what we learned is helpful when compiling a brief for your website designers:

Get your logo or CI sorted first.

Why is this important? Often the look and feel of your branding or logo will inform your website design. For example, the Black Mountain logo is black and white and this heavily influenced the design of our new site. Many website companies can incorporate the design of a new CI or logo into the cost but make sure you mention this upfront.

Do your research.

Spend time finding websites you like and singling out what you really like about them. It could be that you like the font on this website or the way the images are positioned on that one. Look at your competitors but cast the net wider too and bring together 5-10 of your favourite websites to point out to your designers.

Confirm the structure of your site.

Write out the number of pages and various sub-sections and how they’ll flow into each other, as well as the content you want included in each section. For example you may want your company’s Twitter feed to display on your company homepage.

Write it down.

Yes you’ll have meetings with your website team but once they’re over, the details can get fuzzy and you may not remember what was said. Write everything down in a Word document, circulate it to both parties and get everyone to agree.

Get recommendations.

Ask around and see if any of your friends, family or work associates can recommend a design company. Word-of-mouth is often the best way of finding the right company for your needs, whether you need a large development team for your project or a freelancer who may be more cost effective.

You get what you pay for.

Good work costs money so be prepared to invest a reasonable amount in your new site – after all it can be your most powerful sales tool. A cheaply designed website may be kinder on your pockets now, but you’ll end up having to redo it in a year’s time because it doesn’t meet your needs.

Be very clear about timings and ask when you could expect to see the first draft. Chase up your developers if deadlines are not met so you can keep the ball rolling.

Manage expectations.

Check what is included in the price, e.g. two sets of reverts and be sure that you feed back in a way that sticks to the budget so you don’t incur extra costs.

Don’t panic!

Building a website is a collaborative effort so don’t panic if you don’t like the first draft. Be constructive with any feedback, pointing out what you don’t like about something instead of just saying you don’t like it. If necessary, meet in person or over Skype to explain your reasoning.

Launch when you’re 85% happy.

There are always going to be more tweaks to be done, but many of these can be completed once the site is live. Sometimes you just need to launch and then edit from there.

Black Mountain
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