Creating a brief is the foundation of any project. Not only do they help us as an agency understand a client’s business objectives, but they also help to ensure the overall project runs smoothly. Ultimately, a brief can make or break a digital project, and can end up being a very costly mistake. So it’s imperative that you get it right from the get-go.
The best briefs are the ones that focus on the aims of the project and target audience, allowing both the client and the agency to focus on the end goal: a great-looking website that will drive a bigger return on investment.
Over the years, I’ve read hundreds of briefs, and there are some mistakes that always seem to repeat themselves. Here are 5 of the most common ones that clients make and tips on how you can avoid them…
#MISTAKE 1: UNCLEAR GOALS OR TOO MANY GOALS
When a client’s goals are unclear, this can confuse the team and detract from the main objective. When writing a brief, I recommend you thoroughly assess your business goals and long-term business plan, this will help you identify your strengths, weaknesses and new opportunities.
From there, you’ll be able to focus on what’s important, whilst giving the agency you’re working with a clear and concise understanding of what you want to achieve.
#MISTAKE 2: FOCUSING ON OWN PREFERENCES RATHER THAN YOUR CUSTOMERS
This is a very common mistake when it comes to briefs. All too often, clients get bogged down in what they like, and forget about what actually matters to their customers. For instance, when writing a brief for a new website, you shouldn’t replicate what your competitors are doing. What works for them won’t necessarily work for you. Same goes with trying to copy other successful brands’ websites. These companies have their own customers, which are opposite to your target audience.
So be brave and put your personal preferences aside. Always be thinking about your customers – what they like, what they expect, and what they want to see. Think about what makes your brand unique and reinforce your brand values.
#MISTAKE 3: USING JARGON
Sometimes prospective clients provide briefs that are jam-packed full of jargon and meaningless information.
This adds nothing to the brief apart from confusion. Of course, it’s important to provide as much information as possible… as long as it’s relevant and easy to understand. This ensures the agency you’re working with executes your vision the way you imagined it, with no delays.
#MISTAKE 4: TOO RESTRICTIVE
While clients should be as precise as possible when it comes to the brief, there should also be an openness to ideas and a fresh perspective. Sometimes what a client has down on paper isn’t necessarily possible to execute in actual life.
The advantage of working with an agency is that you’re hiring them for their expertise and industry knowledge, they know what works and they know what doesn’t. So, when writing a brief, always be conscious of the fact there is a difference between detailed information and restrictive demands.
#MISTAKE 5: NO CLEAR DEADLINE
Deadlines are an essential part of any brief, but you’d be surprised just how many clients miss them out. Deadlines allow an agency to understand the urgency of a project, set expectations early on, evaluate capacity and keep projects on track. By not setting clear deadlines, you risk frustration further down the line. So, always include a deadline no matter what.
Dan Sheard is Managing Director at Velstar. As GO! Network members they help brands through a combination of effective ecommerce design, development and growth strategies.