How to get a great design brief successfully

Having a great design brief is one of the most important steps in the design process. It does not matters what the project will be, the design brief is the first action a good designer should begin with.

This article will explain what are the principles behind making a great design brief and what state of mind you should keep while making it. You will learn also what the benefits are of having all this information collected with this method.

If you have wondered why you need to do design brief I will answer you in a sentence:

Some clients might know what they want and need, others will not but in both cases it will be better for you to take control of the design process and start collecting the necessary information which will help you design the best solution. 

What is the purpose of the design brief?

The main purpose of the design brief is to collect not only information about the company but also to understand the clients’ needs and goals. You will need to keep that in mind during the whole process from preparation to analysis of the design brief. So that in the end it will ease your work and make it far more efficient than before.

Probing for the problem that the client is having is essential, since you first need to understand and locate the problem before you can start searching and forming solution.  You need to discover what the starting point is.

On first sight the client might need a logo design and a new website. Don’t be satisfied just with this information you need to dig deeper and get in to the soul of the company. Understand what are their values and goals, what message needs to be communicated and to whom. Even understanding a bit the personality of the person who will be approving the design is a key to successfully closing your project.

Another thing that you should strive to achieve is to see how you can create value for your client and his target audience. Although designing a logo or webpage might be satisfying result you will be better off if you offer higher value than that. By doing so the client will respect you, your skills and work even more.

Now that you know what is the main purpose of making a design brief  it is time to start preparing for it.

How to prepare for design brief?

First like most actions in life you need to create a brief plan either in your mind or on paper. In my personal opinion using both is the best way. Human’s memory has this annoying quality to forget information so you better play on the safe side by writing down thing you do not wish to forget.

Below I will give you some direction how I make preparations for my design briefs. You are free to modify it according to your needs.

Get information about the business – What it is for, what they do, where and how. This will help you understand it better and afterwards get inspiration easier.

Target audience – Ask who they are targeting and is there more information about the likes and dislikes of this group of people. It could prove useful if the client can provide you with such information, if not you will need to do a proper research.

Message, goals and vision – Ask what is the message the company wants to send, what are their goals, mission and vision for the future.

Competitors – By seeing the competitors you will be able to analyze the design they use and extract the best of it to implement in yours. In the end your client most probably wants to do better than them.

Specific requirements of the client – This section can include a lot of information. For example you could ask if the client has some color preferences, some ideas which he might want to see as prototype or implemented in your solutions. Also I would recommend to ask about things that you should avoid including in your design.

By asking this kind of questions you will involve your client in the design process and he will appreciate and value your work more. Just be careful to make sure that you stay on top and do not lose control of the process. You are the designer in the end of the day!

What will be provided by the client – Ask about the materials which will be provided from your client. Things like images, audio, copy writing and others.

Social Media presence – Get information on what they think about social media. Do they use it for marketing and connecting with their target group? This is important aspect to consider and have knowledge in advance. You will need to consider how to make the design more engaging  and welcoming for the social media platforms.

Budget and Schedule – Finally it is time to ask how much budget the client has for developing the project. Also what time will be available for finishing it? Although the budget part is very important since we all need to eat and pay our bills it can get tricky. Most clients don’t like to share this information since you might lie with hours and looking from their perspective I understand them completely.

In such cases or if you feel that the client is of this type I would recommend to have a second meeting after the design brief where you will have several propositions for prices including different services. In this case the client will have some choice and will trust you more.

How to analyze your design brief?

After you prepared your design brief and have had the discussion with your client, keeping in mind all the things you have read above, it is time to analyze the results. The process is quite simple. You already should have the feeling and understanding of the important aspects of the information you have collected from your client so far.

You need just to sort it out and structure a simple guidelines for yourself. This will help you in the further steps of the design process and when you feel confused or out of creative juice might even give you inspiration and ideas. (Find out how I get inspired.) The design brief can also work sometimes as reminder for your client if he decides suddenly to change his opinion and blames you for understanding him wrong.

Now you can be confident that you have made the first and most important step of your project. It is time to unleash your creativity and do great design.

If you have some thought about how to improve this process of making the design brief feel free to speak up your mind in the comments below.

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