Have you ever ordered a design project? If yes, then you probably know that the successful execution depends on mutual understanding between the designer and the customer.
Usually, to find such common ground, design agencies ask a client to write down the requirements for the project. This document is called a design brief.
At Eleken we used to follow this model, so we know quite a lot about it. In this article, we will explain what brief is and how to write a design brief with examples and templates that you can use. We will also answer the question “Is it possible to work without a design brief?” Spoiler: yes!
But first, let's define the concept and see what to include in your project design brief.
What is a design brief and why do you need it?
Generally speaking, a brief is a document with a list of questions regarding the implementation of a specific task. In design, this document is a set of requirements that helps designers to understand what the client wants and also helps to define the direction of design.
Usually, a good design brief increases the certainty that a result will be fully satisfying as it reduces the risk of misunderstandings between the client and the design team. The design brief sets the direction for future design and is a base for designers to start work.
A design brief is an input from the client as it should reflect their vision and expectations for the project. But we shouldn’t forget that creating a brief is, first of all, the teamwork of the designer and the customer. You don’t need to worry about forgetting to mention some important information in your brief. If the designer you've chosen is a professional they will never leave you alone with this task.
How do you write a design brief?
We have put together a list of questions typical for a design brief that will help you understand the concept and prepare for hiring a UI/UX designer. When you answer them, you can assume that 90% of the brief is done! The remaining 10 percent you will gain when discussing it with your designer. Ready? Let's start!
- What does your company do?
Even if it seems clear, it’s best to not assume that the designer already knows everything about your company. The deeper the designer understands your business, the more opportunities for creativity he or she has.
Write clearly and concisely:
- What your organization does?
- What background your company has?
- What are your goals?
Let designers deeply understand your big goals by sharing your product vision or mission.
- What tasks should the design solve? Describe the deliverables.
This is probably the most crucial question to ask yourself when ordering design from an agency. Explain what you are trying to communicate with the help of design and why. Clearly state the scope of the project and desired outcome and objective deliverables that you expect, and describe what pain points your product solves for users and how design can help in this regard.
- What is your target audience?
When writing about your target audience don't forget to mention the age of your users, their education, occupation, income, etc. Explain to the designer who these people are, what issues they want to solve, how they are expected to interact with your product.
- Who are the competitors and what differentiates your product from them?
Knowing the main competitors and the unique value proposition of your product is also very useful. The design should reflect the unique advantages of the brand in order to stand out among rivals.
- What copy and images will this project include?
The text and images used in the project are important parts of the design. It doesn’t mean you have to have all materials before starting the design process. However, it’s worth drafting a plan for visuals and text so that designer can correlate their work with your direction.
- Do you have references?
Find some examples/references to the good design or style you like and would want to have for your solution. If you are already on the market, share existing brand visuals like corporate colors, fonts or images that will help the design team to get a feel of your product and analyze it more carefully.
Show examples that you think would suit the most, even if it is the design of your main competitors. By doing so, you set the bar for your expectations.
Show the designer what you DO NOT like. This will give them a general idea of your tastes and preferences and prevent you from getting frustrated with their work.
- What are the timeline and budget?
Determine your budget in advance. This way a designer will be able to optimize the time and resources spent. Determining the budget also allows the designer to decide whether they want to perform this task.
Give the designer a timeline and set a realistic final deadline. You have to take into account the different stages of the design work such as consultation, concept development, execution, production, and delivery.
Sometimes it is simply necessary to complete the work in a short time. In such cases, just honestly inform the designer in advance.
It is necessary to discuss all the above questions with the designer before you start working. You may think that some of them are trivial and the answers are obvious. Still, the quality of the design depends on the knowledge of all these details.
Now as we know what information is important and why it's time to look at some design brief templates.
Design brief examples and templates
The above questions are fundamental, but they don't always look exactly like this. The following templates contain the main points you should discuss with your designer before starting the design process. Based on them you can outline the questions in your design brief.
Let’s check out some design brief examples.
Design brief template above is quite detailed, all questions are divided into blocks and spelled out in detail which makes it clear and very convenient to fill.
Image source: Spigot design
This creative design brief example is well-structured and sets clear business goals for design and, at the same time, is very laconic. Works well for website design requests.
When it comes to app design, a brief template has to be more specific in terms of UX requirements and include some relevant references.
A basic product design brief example
Image source: Ossmium
The simple template above gathers information about the company and problem to solve, the client’s product, budget and timeline, and desired deliverables. It is a good design brief example that can be a great start. However, let’s not forget that designing products is a complex and sometimes long-lasting process.
Product design challenges classic design brief
Clear goals and requirements definitely help in the design process. Designers always appreciate it when clients share a brief that can become a North Star in the design process. However, there are some problems that can occur with design briefs.
For example, young startups might not have a product manager in the team, so writing a design brief often falls on the founder’s shoulders. For them, writing and submitting effective design requirements can be a very complex task, as founders might not have the right expertise for it. Even though that’s absolutely fine, designers might wait for ages to get the desired brief.
Another common case is that discussion with the design team often inspires the product owner and changes perspective regarding the initial design requirements. Then clients' ideas about the desired format and concept of the product may change in the process, too. In that case, there’s a need to update a brief and the you may feel your time was wasted on writing the brief.
To write a good design brief you need to collect and structure a big volume of information on the product in one short document. Without prior experience of creating a design brief can be difficult. This is especially true for product design.
Brief is the most effective when you want to order a design project (landing page, website redesign) from a design agency. However, when you are building a product from scratch, a short brief is just not enough to cover all requirements for a new product design.
Do you really need to prepare a design brief to start working with a designer?
Eleken is a UI/UX design agency. And considering all mentioned above, we do not insist on a design brief.
To save our clients` time and offer a more flexible quick call format. Our Head of Design, Maks, who has years of experience in product design, has a meeting with a client. We call it a kick-off meeting. During the call, the client shares their vision for the product, goals and objectives, ideas about design, details about the existing stage, and desired outcome. Maks has a trained ear so he listens carefully and picks up the most important details that he professionally translates into design requirements for our team. We fully trust Maks, and so should you, because he’s a real pro.
,Sometimes the clients come with references and ideas, other times we suggest how the product can be designed. In Eleken we are big adepts of the idea that good products are not created in a vacuum blindly following requirements. Great products are the result of ongoing team collaboration. And we have a whole bunch of them in our portfolio.
You have a product to design and want to see us in action? Book a call to get in touch with our team.