A design brief like preparing a document that has everything about the design that you are going to prepare for the client. Preparing a detailed brief will ease the interface between you and the client. The project will advance at a decent pace instead of facing incessant hiccups with back and forth clarifications, cancellations and modifications. Essentially, a detailed brief endorses a professional communication channel between the designer and the client by bringing clarity to the relationship.
Tips to preparing a useful brief:
• Clarify the aim of the design project. The project may be a reworking of an old website or else it could be an entirely new one. The ideas used in the concept could be the old ones or the client could be looking for new ideas from the designer. By requesting the client to specify what exactly he wants, you are setting firm goals for the design project with his input.
• Identify the client profile that the website is aiming for. Designing a math website for high school students will be different from designing a website for a corporate insurance company.
• Define a clear scope of the project: This will largely depend on what kind of website it is going to be. Websites may be information oriented or else based on shopping or trading. Your scope will be defined accordingly. The scope will help you identify the interactions you will have to design like social networking (Face Book, twitter) or professional networking (like linked-in).
• Pin the client down to specify his budget and his time frame: Both these rather important factors get sidelined and are responsible for most of the problems between the designer and his client. Make it clear that if you know the budget beforehand, you will be able to deliver better value for money. Similarly the time frame will help you plan your design schedules accordingly. Time frames could be tight (with fixed deadlines or with a flexible time frame).
• Client preferences: The styling that the client wishes his website to have is critical. Styles could vary from funky to educational to traditional. Clients are usually very specific about the look they want so make you understand this clearly. Similarly dislikes are also equally important. Make a list of features the client does not want and don’t waste your time designing those. If you do not specify these, a lot of precious time and effort will be lost due to cancellations and modifications.
What is the best method to gather these details about the design project?
A good option is to prepare a friendly, interactive and detailed questionnaire which the client can fill out. Another alternative is sit and talk to him and note down details.
Body language will also reveal his assent or dissent to any point. A brief should be prepared right in the beginning of the project and should be used regularly for reference throughout the duration of the project.