MORE / How to write a brief for a website


If you are reading this, the chances are that you have been given the task of writing a brief for a new website or a redesign of your old website. You're in luck; this page will help guide you through the process. It's not the definitive list of what you will need, but it's certainly an excellent starting point, and will serve as food for thought.
We have broken this guide up into a number of stages to make it more manageable.


The web design company will need to know a bit about your company in order to get a feel for how they should design your website. A good starting point would be to list the following:
  • A couple of paragraphs about your company
  • The products your sell or services you provide
  • The size of the company - e.g. the number of employees
  • Are you an international company? If so, which countries?
  • How long have you been established?
  • Describe the company using five or ten words (e.g. young, vibrant, technology based etc.)

The old website

If you have got an existing website, firstly let the web design company know the URL! (the web address). Then answer the following questions:
  • What is good about the website?
  • What is bad about the website? (i.e. old colour schemes, out-dated design)
  • How long ago was it built? and who built it?
  • What levels of traffic is it currently receiving?
  • How often do you get a genuine sales lead through the website?
  • Who is responsible for updating the site?
In order to meet your requirements, any design agency would need to know where the old website has failed. So also detail anything else that could be relevant.

The new website

You must now examine what you need from the new website. So, a good starting point would be to consider the following:
  • Outline the aims of the website ( e.g. to increase traffic, increase product awareness, generate more sales, offer e-commerce, advertise a new product or service)
  • Who is the target audience? Has this changed from the old site? What are the demographics (e.g. children, adults, social class, income levels, location, etc.)
  • Is the new website part of a re-brand, or a new product launch?
  • Is there other advertising taking place that the new website should tie in with?
  • What are the unique selling points for your company, your products or your services?
  • What industry are you aiming the website at?
  • Is the market already saturated with competitors?
  • List a few competitors' websites.

The look and feel of the new website

The website should be an extension of any offline media, advertising or branding that you have. It is always helpful to be provided with a brochure, some marketing literature or the annual report to help get a feel for the company, so include them with the brief.
In order to get an idea of the kind of site that you want, it is worthwhile noting three or four websites that you like - not necessarily competitors' or sites related to your industry, just give a few example sites that you like the colour schemes of, the navigation, or the interactive elements.
Do you have access to any corporate images? Does your company have an image library? In larger companies you may find that another cost centre has already spent hundreds or thousands of pounds on photography and used it once. It would make sense to use these images if possible. If your company doesn't have an image library, it should have, and we can build one for you!
Another area that is always overlooked is copywriting. Have you got the copy text ready to go onto your website? Do you have the resources or skills to create and supply the text to go on the website? If the answer to these questions is no, you will need a web copywriter as well - we can provide this service if necessary.

Technical requirements

You should outline any special technical requirements that your company might have:
  • Is it an intranet/extranet or internet site?
  • If it is an intranet, is it a Windows only environment?
  • Does your web hosting company or internal servers restrict you to a particular programming language? i.e. Microsoft only, ASP or Open Source PHP?
  • Should you be catering specifically for text only browsers, audio web browsers or Braille readers?
  • What about WAP or web TV?


The ongoing maintenance of a website is an often overlooked aspect of the website's design:
  • Who will be responsible for the on-going maintenance of the website?
  • Do you have the skills, resources and time to maintain the website in-house?
  • What happens if that member of staff leaves the company?
  • Would you prefer to make an arrangement with the website design/ website development company for them to handle website maintenance?


You are proposing spending money on a new website, so you want customers to see it, right? So now consider how you will promote it.

Off-line promotion

A website should really be supported by an off-line strategy of promotion and advertising, perhaps consider including the following:
  • Postal mail shots
  • Brochures
  • PR exercise
  • Sponsorship
  • Complimentary gifts.
You might be thinking, 'why do they need to know about off-line promotion' - there might be ways of linking the two together, for example, extracting all the postal addresses from your mailing lists and using them to print all the envelope address labels on the fly.

On-line promotion

The on-line promotion of a website is often overlooked when considering the website brief. The promotion of your website on the internet, both in terms of getting it on the search engines and also building links with other websites, is vitally important to the continued success of the site.
You should consider:
  • Building link partners.
  • Search engine optimization and submission.
  • Search engine paid listings (the sponsored links you see on the side of your search results).
  • Email marketing - commonly HTML emails that are branded inline with the website.
  • Banner advertising on high traffic volume websites.


You should finish your website design brief with a short conclusion, outlining what you would like to receive back from the design agency. As a rule of thumb, at Method & Class we provide a full proposal, detailing how the site would be built, the layout, the costs (initial and on-going), the timescales involved and any assumptions and conditions that we have made.
Good luck with your website design brief and don't forget to include us on your list of companies to tender for the development work...