Create an efficient web design brief for Squarespace
Measure twice, cut once… How to get a great website breif in under 45 minutes.
I am a Squarespace specialist and therefore many of these tips have been extremely helpful to me when building websites on that platform. However, the bulk of this article is universal and can be adapted whatever route you choose.
Regardless of whether you are building your own website via a website builder, looking to revamp your existing website, or contracting a digital marketing agency to work with you, here are a few short and concise tips that are consistent for every web design brief. Make sure you plan in advance of your project start date to reduce unnecessary complications.
Step 1 - It's time to have a cunning plan
Many small business owners fail to prepare for a new website adequately. A good brief can range from a series of bullet points on one side of A4 to a 50 page document, depending on the size and scope of your website project. You will be relieved to hear that for many small businesses the requirement is generally the former of the above options and a good brief can be constructed in well under an hour.
Think about the following in your brief:
How do you want to be portrayed? Is your company a vibrant, creative workspace or do you want to appear as a traditional, dependable supplier? The visuals can look very different as a result of which path you decide to take.
Who are your target audience/client? If you are struggling with this it can help to create fictional clients (personas) based on your experiences. What tone of voice do they respond to? Are they in work mode or leisure mode? This last point can have a profound impact on how you view their habbits. In work mode, a professional looking to procure the services of a new supplier may be less likely to make impulse purchases than when browsing for a new pair of slippers on their smartphone whilst watching TV. Our clients and customers are inconsistent at the best of times and can have completely different habits inside and outside of work.
What are your key objectives? Are you going toe-to-toe with huge online retailers or looking to increase your exposure in your local area? If it is the former, then buckle up, it is going to be a rollercoaster of emotions and will take a huge amount of time and patience to reach your goal (if you ever do so). A strong website design will only take you so far, your post-launch strategy (what’s next?) is often crucual to meeting your objectives.
Step 2 - Set realistic expectations
This follows on from point 1. At this stage it is essential to review our brief and check that our objectives are realistic.
Think of the end user (your customer)
User experience is crucial to ensure you website delivers a smooth, inviting presence for your customers. Make sure the navigation and inter-page linking is easy to follow. Also try to obtain a good balance between content and imagery.
Go for quality over quantity
It’s really important to think about what is achievable within a 12 month to 2 year timeframe. If you are looking to get to page 1 of google for “web design”, then you are either going to need to spend half of your life generating content via your content management system (website admin area) or building inbound links. Even then it would be a struggle. Set realistic goals based on whether the website can generate leads (e.g. a potential customer finds you on a Google search results page via a service or product search) or convert leads (you entice your potential customers to your website through social media or from meeting them at a business networking event). What is realistic in the short term, may need also need to be assessed on an annual basis once your website becomes established.
You can either build your website using website builders such as Squarespace or Wix. Alternatively you can contract at design agency to work with and build upon your initial brief. You can always contact us to assist via our web design workshops.
It is also well worth thinking about the flow of your content and even jot down the keywords that you would like to target for search engine optimisation (SEO), this could help to save a lot of time towards the end of your project.
Other website planning strategies to compliment your brief
This is the time to leave no stone unturned. Since I started to build websites on a professional basis back in 2004, I have developed a series of techniques, both on and off-screen that have assisted me with my goal of providing a watertight brief. The overall goal of your project is to effectively communicate with your audience, regardless of whether your objective is to close a deal or provide comprehensive information about your business or organisation.
Here are some techniques that have served me well when planning for a new website:
Create a website sitemap: Using a free plan with Slickplan.com
Prioritising content: A quick exercise to ensure you prioritise content effectively on your key website pages.
Wireframing: Sketch out the overall structure of key pages before commencing with the design process.
We can explore all of these in greater detail via PixelHaze Academy (www.pixelhaze.academy). Head on over to find out more.
Happy hunting and good luck with your website brief!