The importance of a clear design brief

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We all want to get the best out of creative specialists such as designers and web companies. They are only human though, and the brief that you give them will directly affect the results you can expect. In this post, I talk about how you can help yourself in learning to develop clear briefs.

I’ll know it when I see it!

We all know this scenario don’t we? They don’t really know what they want but they know what they don’t like when they see it. As a result, the designer is left to play a frustrating guessing game in the hopes of hitting the target. Both sides become somewhat frustrated as the project takes too long and the results are not forthcoming.

Design companies and graphic designers are not mind readers. Granted, they are creative and you’ll want to involve their ideas and their flair, but without a clear starting point, your project is generally doomed to be unsatisfying and quite possibly, more expensive than it needs to be.

Understand that whilst you’re relying on the designer to creatively develop your project for you, the result is a team effort.

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Start with what you do know

When working on a design project with a client, I’ll always talk about the importance of a clear design brief. I’ll slow down at this point and perhaps ask more questions and seek as much clarification as possible. I might spend some time online reviewing the industry in question; styles and ideas that are coming to light. This is not wasted time, this is the starting point of creating a clear design brief and I see it as my job to help my clients achieve this effectively.

So, what do you know? Probably quite a lot if you stop and think about it. Ask yourself these sorts of questions:

  • What am I trying to achieve with this project? Can I supply a bit of background?
  • Are there any existing design styles to incorporate into the project – corporate branding or particular colours and fonts for example?
  • Am I clear on who the target audience is and what I want them to gain from viewing this design?
  • Can I reference anything that I a) want to be similar to b) want to stand apart from c) dislike?
  • Do I have any sort of picture in my head – even if it is incomplete? Can I draw this or supply anything to reference it?
  • Do I have a clear budget and timescale in mind?

Put all of this into a document as clearly as you can (that’s what we can do for our clients). Talk around the story and give as much reference as possible. Let the designer get inside your head. I know that they are the creative one but if you said to them “design a house” you couldn’t then fault them when they designed a sleek, modern design and you were thinking of something more traditional. Give them a sporting chance to do a good job for you!

Manage the team relationship

Understand that whilst you’re relying on the designer to creatively develop your project for you, the result is a team effort. If it goes wrong, you’re partly to blame unless they have moved away from the brief.

At Cantaloupe, we’re well practiced at managing designer relationships on behalf of our clients. We know what they need to do a good job and we eek it out of our clients ahead of any work being done. The result? Happy clients and happy designers. Plus a project completed in-budget and without any nasty surprises. So, the next time you have a design project to undertake, do one of two things:

  1. Spend more time on developing the best possible brief before talking to your designer
  2. Get in touch with Cantaloupe and let us help you. It’s bread and butter to us and our involvement might just be very fruitful and effective

By phone or email, we’re here to chat should you need us.