If you have a new WordPress project on the horizon and you’d like to employ the expertise of a professional to develop your site, creating a good brief to guide the process is essential.
It can also be easier said than done if you’d never had to brief a developer or designer on a project previously. Feeling stuck? Wondering which aspects are important and which will be worked out during the dev process?
As a developer, why is it important for clients to give you a good brief?
Dan: For most companies in our industry a good brief is vital. It not only provides the primary information of what the client wants, but sets the tone for what they expect. It allows us to accurately respond with timeframes, estimates and also recommend features that might enhance their project that the client otherwise hasn’t thought of.
In a way, you can also measure the success of a project by what was outlined in a good brief (providing the primary goals have remained the same throughout the development process). A good brief sets the boundaries of the project while also allowing for some freedom to make changes along the way. Because the brief comes from an idea; an idea is always evolving and so should a website.
Justin: A brief is the high-level blueprint of objectives and requirements. It’s an essential part of the development process, because it forms the basis of deliverables, it gives the developer context and focus, and it helps to avoid costly miscommunication. A good brief is simple and concise, and allows the developer to add value to help the client achieve their goals and objectives.
What are the five most important things people should include in a brief for a developer?
Dan: In no particular order…
Budget. It’s important to establish this early on. There are many ways to approach website design and development, each with its advantages, disadvantages and price tags.
Clearly identify your audience. This helps us create a user experience that’s in line with the capabilities and expectations of your target market.
What are the goals for this project? Ultimately, why are we doing this? Which often lends itself to, how do we do this? Often there is more than one approach you can take to develop a site. Knowing the end goals can help identify which method/s would be better served over others.
What are the measures of success? When a site is launched its important to track how its measuring up to its goals.
Functional requirements. This is the core of what we will base a quote and timings from. The more accurate and detailed this section is, the better we can provide a realistic quote and timings.
Justin: The five most important things people should consider, include…
Business Goals and Objectives. Doing this allows the developer to help think of solutions and requirements which you may not have necessarily thought of initially. A good developer not only delivers the end result, but also helps you to choose the best option to align with your goals and objectives. Having a clear set of objectives also gives the developer a point of reference to work with, and is an excellent way to measure a site’s success.
You Budget. WordPress sites can be kept simple, but can also become feature-rich and complex very easily. In tandem with your business objectives, stating your budget from the very beginning of your project allows your developer to give you guidance when it comes to selecting different options while developing your site. A developer should be able to realistically match your expectations with your budget, and often will help you develop a strategy to optimise your budget, and plan for future upgrades.
Timeframe. Being clear on your timeframe is very important. Like your the budget, your timeframe is a constraint that should definitely be made very clear early on and formally in your brief. This allows the developer to realistically set expectations, and advise on the best possible approach to meet your project deadline.
Users and Target Audience. Your developer should know who the users of the website will be. Including this information in your brief allows the developer to help choose the best design and technology options.
Design. Design considerations and your preferred aesthetic are also important to include in your brief. Ask yourself how you want the site to look and feel. Do you want lots of imagery or videos? Or do you want the focus to be on content? Should the site be designed with mobile devices in mind, for greater accessibility? You developer is unlikely to be looking for extremely detailed requirements here, so aim for a general overview rather than specifying font-sizes and colour choices.
If a client knows they need a website, but they have no idea what they want or need, what’s a good way for them to get started? What homework can clients do to create a good brief?
Dan: It’s not a bad thing not knowing what you want or need early in the concept stage of the project. You don’t want to constrict your idea with technology boundaries to early on. Understanding the relevant market and audience is the key. From there, it’s a matter of meeting with several dev companies to discuss your idea and ask for their recommendations. A good dev company can assist in making a brief that helps define the needs of a website.
Justin: There are three key things you can do to get started when you’re feeling lost…
- Look at other websites, and use them as examples. Pick out features and aspects of design you like from these sites, and provide your developer links as points of reference.
- Spend time clarifying what your business objectives are. This step is crucial as it helps to shape what you really want. As for what you need, that is where a good developer steps in.
- Engage your stakeholders and target audience. Talk to the people who the website is intended for. Knowing what your users want and who they are really helps to create an awesome brief.
What’s your pet peeve as a developer? What should people avoid at all costs when providing a brief for a new web project?
Dan: Set a budget. You can save everyone a lot of time by letting people know how much you want to spend on the project.
Justin: Avoid approaching a developer with very generic requirements in your brief. Doing your homework and following the advice above should help give enough points of reference for the developer to work with.
Not sure how to find the right WordPress developer for your project? Check out the recent post on Choosing a WordPress Developer.