What is a design brief, why do you need it and how do you go about creating one? We know this task can be daunting – we’ve done it ourselves when outsourcing. Read why a design brief is so important then follow our six step guide.
Why is a design brief important?
When choosing a designer you might take many factors into account. Some obvious ones might be:
- You lIke the work in their portfolio
- You’ve worked with them before
- Someone you respect has used them, or recommended them
- They are physically located close to you
- They speak your language (literally)!
- They are within your budget
- Their site/social media gives you a good feeling about their work ethic
But when you make contact you might be surprised at the amount of work you need to do just to get them started. The reason for this is simple:
Yes, a designer can create a design without pointers or directed inspiration. But the resulting design has little chance of being what YOU wanted.
This results in a few outcomes:
- You are disappointed in the first draft and start to have reservations
- You may feel guilty at having to negatively critique a designers work
- The designer has wasted some time and effort that could have been better used on your project
- The designer might love the design they created and be upset at the critique!
Points 2 & 4 are a reality in the design world, but at Kestrel Design we’d like to make it clear: negative feedback is a GREAT thing. When we receive it we can get closer to exactly what the client wants, and we can do that quicker! NEVER hesitate to tell us what you don’t like.
That being said how do we avoid first drafts being way off what you, the client, wants? By asking you to create a design brief for us. The more detailed and precise a design brief is, the closer the resulting first drafts will be. Don’t worry about curbing creativity as designers learn to work magic within, and because of, constraints.
So let’s work to build a GREAT design brief.
Briefly describe what it is we’re designing.
Tell us who your target audience is, who they might admire, what feelings are important to them and what their focus might be.
Tell us why your product/service/company etc is special versus your competition.
Tell us of any ideas you already had in mind. This could be colour, symbols, icons, layouts, shapes and can be as detailed or vague as you need.
Give us some inspiration by showing us some examples of what you love. This can be from our own portfolio or anywhere on the Internet. Links are great, copying and pasting images is good. A Pinterest inspiration board would be fantastic!
If possible let us know where the ideal design would be on the following scales – either one or the other, or not sure/in the middle.
Bold or Subtle
Masculine or Feminine
Value or Expensive
Simple or Busy
Loud or Quiet
Playful or Serious
Modern or Classic
Young or Mature
Put your design brief all together in a document, email or call and let us get to you with our first draft! Don’t forget to attach any imagery or content that you need us to include in the design.
What information do we collect?
We collect information from you when you fill out our contact form.
When filling out the form you will be asked to enter your name and e-mail address. You may visit our site anonymously by not filling out the form.
When you become a client we may keep any email, image, document or information you send to us. We keep records of invoices, contact information and notes regarding your customer needs.
At any time, you can contact us to receive details of all information we store about you. This will incur a small administration charge.
What do we use your information for?
To personalise our contact with you – your information helps us to better respond to your individual needs.
The email address you provide may be used to send you information and updates pertaining to your query or to receive occasional company news, updates, related product or service information, or offers.
How do we protect your information?
We do not store your contact details on our server.
We do not share your details with any other company.
Do we disclose any information to outside parties?
We do not sell, trade, or otherwise transfer to outside parties any of your information, unless we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law, or to protect ours or others rights, property or safety.
Third party links
We reserve the right, at our discretion to include or offer third party products or services on our website. These third party sites have separate and independent privacy policies. We therefore have no responsibility or liability for the content and activities of these linked sites. Nevertheless, we seek to protect the integrity of our site and welcome any feedback about these sites.
I promised in my post titled ‘What kind of website do you need?‘ that I’d explain what the terms responsive, accessible and mobile friendly mean. Here it is in #explainItLikeIm5 terms:
This means when you see the website on a tablet or a mobile phone it looks just as good as it does on a computer. The entire site changes it’s layout to be just as easy to read and navigate on smaller devices.
Are you fully or partially blind? If not you probably don’t care about this. If you are you can still understand the site because I’ve made sure the website is easily read by screen-readers. These are bits of software which read websites out loud. Behind every image in an ‘accessible’ website is a little piece of text which explains what the image is: like ‘Kestrel Design’s logo’ or ‘picture of a cat looking grumpy’.
As well as being responsive, a website is mobile friendly if it doesn’t need to download a shed load of data to look good. So images are appropriately sized and there’s not huge amounts of wasted data on irrelevant formatting (you get this a lot on build-your-own sites).
Just a quick note to say we have successfully switched to fibre Internet for super-fast speed. We planned ahead for this by switching to the right company a few months ago, meaning that we were one of the first customers in our area to get it installed. This makes our server extra fast at delivering our clients’ websites to their customers.
Kestrel Design very often offers interest free payment. We are fortunate to be in a position to be able to offer this service and we think its a great way to take payment for so many reasons.
We think it helps:
- customers to accept your quote
- your money flow
- their money flow
- customers come back for repeat custom
- to not knock your customer’s new company down before it has a chance to establish itself
- establish trust and regular communication
One thing we did have trouble with is how to accept regular payments without having to ask our customers to remember every week or month. We discovered that we can use Paypal’s subscription payment system to do so. Heres how:
Log in to PayPal and click ‘Merchant Services’
Click ‘Create payment buttons for your website’
Click ‘Create button now’
Unless you’re taking only 4 payments in total (where you should select ‘Instalment Plan’), select ‘Subscriptions’
Fill in what the customer is paying for, the payment currency and the amount per cycle
Further down the page fill in how often and how many cycles. If the customer needs to pay £2300 in £100 per month instalments then put ‘£100’, ‘1’ ‘month(s)’ and for how many cycles put ’23’. Select your primary email address unless you’ve set up a secure account for your website and want to use that one, and finally click ‘Create Button’
On the code page scroll down and select the ‘Email’ tab.
Then select the code and copy it. Put that code into your email. It is a link and when the customer clicks it, they will be taken to a Paypal payment page. After they fill in their Paypal details they will be automatically billed for the right number of payments, then the billing will stop.
I hope this is useful to some people. The pictures were accurate December 2013; if you are reading this post in the future please understand that it is very likely that Paypal will have changed their layout and possibly services!
Sometimes us small businesses should help each other out!
We got into a discussion with photographer Marsha Cooper recently, about how to price our services. We told her if we worked for £20 per hour for the hours that we want to work full time we’d get the salary we want and need. So when we price our jobs we figure how long the job will take and quote accordingly. As we really loved her work we asked if she’d do some bespoke photography for Kestrel.
She used her specialist photography timing equipment and skills to capture a Kestrel pin badge as it splashed into water. She also timed herself so that she’d know how much to charge a similar job in the future. We paid her in kind by producing a logo and custom stationary.
Working with other small companies gives so many advantages:
- An actual real-life customer to work with
- Work to put into the portfolio
- Neither of you have had to spend money!
- A professional friend/networking
- Professional goods and services in return
If you are lucky enough to work with other companies like us, always consider if you can trade products or services as the ultimate win-win situation.
We’re hoping Marsha will have a website soon (perhaps even by us!) but she’s currently moving home to another country! We’ll update this post when she’s ready to take on commissions.
We’ll leave you with her beautiful photos where she has managed to make it look like our Kestrel is playing in the water:
and here is the logo we paid her with