Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Design Brief: A Crucial Part of the Design Process

What Is A Design Brief?
A design brief is vital to any design project as it will provide the designer(s) with the information needed to meet and exceed the expectations of the client or users.
A design brief should primarily focus on the results and outcomes of the design and the business objectives of the design project. It should not attempt to deal with the aesthetics of design - that's the responsibility of the designer.
The design brief also allows the client to focus on exactly what needs to be achieved before any work starts on the project.
A good design brief will ensure that you end up with a high quality design that meets the users needs.

How To Write An Effective Design Brief
Answering the questions below in detail should result in your design brief being 90% complete. The other 10% will come from further questions that come up during the process.

Understanding the Company or Business
What does the business do?
The designer will often not know anything about the company beforehand. Be clear and concise and avoid jargon when describing the business.

What is the company’s history?
What are their goals? Why?
What is the overall goal of the new design project?
What are they trying to communicate and why?
Are they trying to sell more products or get awareness of their product / service?
How do they differ from their competitors?
Do they want to completely reinvent themself or are they simply updating their promotional material, product or service?
Tip: Earlier examples will assist the designer.

Understand the target market or user
What are the target market or users demographics & phychographics? ie. the age, gender, income, tastes, views, attitudes, employment, geography, lifestyle of those you want to reach.
Tip: If you have multiple audiences, rank them in terms of importance.
What copy (text) and pictures are needed?
Tip: The copy and pictures used in a design are as crucial as the design itself and you should clearly state who is going to be providing the copy and pictures if needed. You may need to look into getting a professional copywriter / photographer - ask your designer for some recommendations.
What copy needs to be included in the design? Who is providing the copy?
What pictures / photographs / diagrams etc need to be used? Who is providing these?

What are the specifications?
What size is the design going to be?
Where is it going to be printed / used? The web, business cards, stationery, on your car?
What other information should the designer know in regards to specifications?
Have you got a benchmark in mind?
Collect some examples of what would be considered to be effective or relevant design even if it is from main competitors. This will set a benchmark for the designer.
Provide the designer with things not to do, and styles that you do not like or wish to see in your design. This will give the designer an idea of what to avoid and will avoid disappointment.

What Is the Budget?
Providing a budget prevents designers wasting valuable time and resources.
Providing the budget upfront also allows designers to know if the project is going to be worthwhile to complete. Make sure the project is worth your time.

What is the time scale / deadline?
The designer needs a detailed schedule of the project and a realistic deadline for the completion of the work. You should take into account the various stages of the design project such as consultation, concept development, production and delivery.
Tip: Rushing design jobs helps no one and mistakes can be made if a complex job is pushed through without time to review, however, there are times when a rush job is needed, and in these cases you should be honest and upfront about it.

Tips For The Designer
As a designer it is important to have a template such as this one to give to clients as clients will not always come to you with a design brief. Having a template ready shows professionalism and ultimately saves a lot of time and money.

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