What Is a Design Brief and How to Write It
Learn how to stay aligned and keep your design project on track.
In order for the designer to do the best job they can, first, it's crucial to understand exactly what the design task requires.
This is where the design brief comes in . When done correctly, it becomes a vital communication tool for your design project. Running a project without it usually means relying on phone calls, long email threads, notes, and messages, which inevitably results in chaos. Whether you are a design agency or a company commissioning the design, with a brief, you have a single guiding document for your entire design process.
Let's go into what design briefs are and how to write them.
What is a design brief?
How to write a design brief, what to include in a design brief, design brief template.
A design brief is a document that defines the core details of your upcoming design project , including its goals, scope, and strategy. It needs to define what you, as a designer, need to do, and within what constraints. In many ways, it works like a roadmap or a blueprint, informing design decisions and guiding the overall workflow of your project, from conception to completion.
Most importantly, a well-crafted brief should help you make sure that there is full agreement among the stakeholders on project deliverables, budget, and schedule.
Here's an example of a design brief created in Nuclino , a unified workspace where teams can bring all their knowledge, docs, and projects together in one place. Create an account and start writing your own design briefs:
An example of a logo design brief in Nuclino
Since most design projects are collaborative and involve multiple stakeholders, carefully consider where you are going to write your design brief . Creating it in a Word document would mean having to deal with emails , bouncing around your team's inboxes, and outdated attachments. Using a document sharing tool that facilitates collaboration, such as Google Docs or Nuclino , could help you ensure everyone always has the latest version of the brief and make it easy to provide their input.
Regardless of the tool you use, the most important task is deciding what content to include. After all, a design brief is only valuable if it captures the correct, relevant, and up-to-date information.
It can take many forms and follow many different templates. Every design project is different, so there’s no fixed formula for the perfect brief. It can be a very formal, long, and detailed document, or it can be a simple and short one-pager. However, there are several essential elements that make a great brief.
The project overview section of your brief should provide a clear and concise description of your design project. It should cover the what and why behind your project. For example: "We need a logo design for use online or in print", or "we need a logo animation in the MP4 format to be used in the introduction of our product tutorial videos" or "we are looking for a web design agency to undertake a custom project for our brand and website, delivering wireframes, mockups, interactive prototypes, and production-ready web design assets."
You can formulate this section by asking yourself or your client the following questions:
What are we building?
What design problem are we trying to solve?
What assets are expected at the completion of the project?
Goals and objectives of the new design
One of the most important steps in planning a design project and writing your design brief is aligning on what you (or your client) want to achieve with the new design.
Make a distinction between goals and objectives . Goals describe the overall purpose of the project, while objectives are concrete measures of success in reaching a goal. The more specific and unambiguous these are in the project brief, the clearer the path will be for your work. Here are some questions that may help get clarity on project goals and objectives:
What would an ideal outcome look like for this project?
Are you redesigning an existing artifact? Why?
Is this the first time you are trying to tackle this design problem?
For example, if your project involves cutting-edge technologies like IoT product engineering , include specific performance metrics or benchmarks that the final design should meet, ensuring a clear standard for success.
Target market or audience
Understanding your audience is the first step in addressing their needs in the best possible way. Take your ideal customer, and build your persona around them. Outline their demographic traits and psychographic characteristics, as well as the problems you want to solve for them through your product.
Who is your ideal customer?
What are their demographics, habits, and goals?
When and how will they be using your product?
Budget and schedule
Understanding the budget and agreeing to a timeline are critical steps in the briefing process. Clarifying these constraints and expectations upfront is necessary for keeping the project on track and avoiding conflicts and scope creep down the road. Both, the schedule and the budget should be realistic and flexible enough to account for potential changes or unexpected obstacles.
Try asking these questions to gather the information you need:
What are the budget constraints on this project? How flexible are they?
What internal deadlines does this project need to align with?
What are the key milestones within the project?
Aligning on project deliverables is one of the core purposes of the design brief. Even a small misunderstanding can create major problems if not addressed as soon as possible. Here are some questions that may help you clarify which deliverables you would need:
What do you or your client expect to receive at the end of the project?
What file formats should work be supplied in?
What sizes and resolutions are needed?
Other relevant information
Depending on the project, you may need to include additional details in your brief. For example:
Who are the main competitors?
Are there any "do nots"? Any features or creative directions you want to reject upfront?
Who will do the final approval? Who will have the power to approve or reject your work at the end of the project?
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to design briefs. The exact format needs to be defined by your own internal design workflow.
However, having a template that you can use as your starting point for each project you work on can certainly save you a lot of time and ensure you don' miss anything important. Here is a sample template you can use for inspiration when creating your own.
Design brief template in Nuclino
Once you have created your brief, don't forget to keep it up-to-date and make sure to make it easily accessible to all relevant stakeholders. It's important to remember that it's never fully finished until the project is complete – instead, it continuously evolves as part of the design process. You may need to revise it several times over the course of the project, for example, when you get new input from your clients or your team.
If you are using a tool like Nuclino , you can collaboratively edit your brief in real time and comment on specific sections. The document can be easily shared with external stakeholders using a shared link . Finished deliverables – files, images, Figma designs , and so on – can be embedded or uploaded directly into the brief, making it easy to manage your entire design project within a single document.
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- National Qualifications > Subjects > Art and Design > National 5
National 5 Art and Design
Alternative certification model, essential information, course specification.
Explains the structure of the course, including its purpose and aims and information on the skills, knowledge and understanding that will be developed.
- N5 Art and Design Course Specification September 2017
Past Papers and Marking Instructions
Access all past papers by subject/level
Additional question papers resources
Illustrates the standard, structure and requirements of the question papers candidates will sit (includes marking instructions).
- Art and Design Specimen Question Paper National 5 October 2019
There were no exams in 2021. The 2020-21 question paper resources are, for most subjects, modified papers which reflect the modifications put in place for session 2020-21.
- National 5 Art and Design question paper (13.63 MB)
- National 5 Art and Design marking instructions (350 KB)
Coursework ( August 2023 )
This section provides information on marking instructions and/or the coursework assessment task(s). It includes information that centres need to administer coursework and must be read in conjunction with the course specification.
- Coursework assessment task for National 5 Art and Design - Expressive portfolio September 2020
- Coursework assessment task for National 5 Art and Design - Design portfolio September 2020
- National 5 Art and Design - Expressive portfolio evaluation template August 2023
- National 5 Art and Design - Design portfolio evaluation template August 2023
- National 5 and Higher Art and Design Evaluation Instructions August 2018
- Guidance on conditions of assessment
The following document provides guidance on how candidates can submit more concise portfolios while still accessing the full range of marks. Guidance on National 5 and Higher Art and Design portfolios
More information on submitting Art and Design portfolios can be found on the Art and Design Practical Assessment web page.
Information on the production and submission of SQA-assessed coursework for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher.
- Coursework for External Assessment (261 KB)
Understanding Standards ( 13/06/2023 )
Examples of candidate evidence with commentarie s.
- Examples of candidate evidence with commentaries
Further examples of candidate evidence and commentaries can be found on SQA's secure website and you can access these through your SQA co-ordinator.
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- Expressive Portfolio guidance - presentation with audio 2020-2021 (58.91 MB)
- Overview of course assessment presentation with audio (10 minutes)
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- Changes to published Understanding Standards materials for all materials
Please note: Understanding Standards materials are regularly reviewed to ensure they remain up to date.
Course reports ( 19/09/2023 )
Provides information on the performance of candidates - which is useful to teachers, lecturers and assessors in their preparation of candidates for future assessment.
- 2023 National 5 Art and Design Course Report September 2023
- 2022 National 5 Art and Design Course Report September 2022
- 2019 National 5 Art and Design Course Report September 2019
- 2018 National 5 Art and Design Course Report March 2018
- 2017 National 5 Art and Design Course Report October 2017
There was no round 2 verification activity at this level in 2017.
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How to Write a Design Brief in 8 Steps with Templates and Examples
May 4, 2023
No matter how many hours we spend staring into our dog’s eyes, none of us are mind readers. 🔮 🐶
Luckily, there are ways to combat our lack of telepathy in the workplace—especially when it comes to design concepts that we imagine so vividly in our heads, but have no idea how to recreate IRL.
What’s the solution? Writing detailed and practical design briefs, of course!
Like placing an order at a restaurant, design briefs tell the designer what you want out of a request. It’s how they understand what the project is, what the task requires, and where to start.
The key to a highly effective design brief is to be both clear and concise—which is challenging when you’re dealing with complex tasks or multiple non-negotiable project requirements . But we’re here to help with tips and examples to take your design briefs to the next level. 💜
Whether your design team is looking to standardize your briefs and requests, or you’re part of an agency commissioning a company project, this article has you covered. Read along for a fresh take on writing efficient design briefs including the essential elements, how-to breakdowns, a customizable template, and more!
What is a Design Brief?
Step 1: choose your design brief project management software, step 2: the design brief project description, step 3: the design brief objective and smart goals, step 4: the design brief’s target audience, step 5: your budget and timeline, step 6: the expected deliverables, step 7: anything else you deem important , step 8: share it with the team, design brief template.
A design brief is a written document that lays the design thinking for a design project with the outlined goals, scope, and approach for the request. Similar to your project roadmap , the design brief is a designer’s guiding light when it comes to the where , what , when , and why of a specific request.
Design briefs typically pass through many hands before they land on the designer’s to-do list. With approvals from all project managers and stakeholders , the brief should be thorough but to the point, identifying the approved timeline, end product, and budget (if applicable).
On a deeper level, briefs are also a way for the designer to connect and align with the person making the request. In this sense, try to use your brief as a collaborative tool for eliminating the general confusion that comes with additional back-and-forth phone calls, messages, and emails.
But while it’s important to include key details and context to your requests, your design brief should still be, well, brief . You want it to be long enough to describe the project and communicate your request without overwhelming the designer with a multi-page pamphlet that runs margin-to-margin. 🥵
How do these ideas come together in a design brief? We’ll show you!
How to Write a Design Brief (With Examples)
In an exciting turn of events, there’s no set-in-stone format you must stick to when writing an effective design brief. 🤩
Your team will find the type of brief that serves your design project management style best in terms of length, detail, and work style. Small requests or smaller-scale projects may not require as hefty of a brief, but there are still key elements that all briefs share.
Relying on a template, a survey-style request, or a standardized document structure are all great ways to collect the necessary information to build a design brief. The key is to keep it consistent! Here is our step-by-step guide for writing effective design briefs with real-life examples. ✏️
Follow these eight steps from top to bottom—or skip to the next section for a free customizable template to make the process even easier! 🤓
Design projects are collaborative by nature and your ideal design project management software will have the features to support that! Powerful design tools will alleviate some of the stress and streamline daily processes involved in your design workflow with the ability to organize, edit, share, and manage projects of any size.
And since design briefs are commonly formatted in a document, your chosen project management tool will likely include a built-in document editor or integrations to bring all of the right information together across apps.
Think of your design brief as a reliable source of truth—a document that you can refer back to at any time for the most accurate information and progress updates. The best example of this? ClickUp Docs . 📃
ClickUp Docs are your destination for all things text-based in your Workspace. In true ClickUp fashion, Docs offer a ton of features like AI, nested pages, Slash Commands , styling options, embedding, and advanced settings to customize the look and functionality of your Doc.
ClickUp AI is a powerhouse tool for design briefs. You can use AI to generate ideas quickly, allowing you to brainstorm and refine concepts with little effort. With a few simple clicks, ClickUp AI can generate hundreds of ideas in no time at all. From there, you can filter out irrelevant content, find the best fit for your design brief, or narrow down the selection to create a cohesive brief.
You’ll also love how far your can take your design briefs with real-time editing, @mentions in comments , and secure sharing and permissions via a simple link. Plus, Docs can be connected to your workflows so any updates that happen in your document are automatically reflected in related tasks and other areas of your workspace.
Context is everything and this section of your design brief should give exactly that!
Give a brief but descriptive overview of what your project is and what it will be used for. This doesn’t have to dig too deep, but a sentence or two that clearly states your request and what you’ll be using it for is a great starting point for the designer.
This section may also include a bit about the company or client commissioning the design. What the company does, its primary services, values, and brand identity are common details to find in this section.
Our social media marketing agency is redesigning our website to feature a new home page, blog section, and portfolio. We are a small team of eight members who work with 50 businesses in our area, and all of our work is currently clustered together on our outdated webpage. We have matured as a brand since we created our initial website and grown as a company, and we want our new website to reflect that.
Describe the problem this project will address and the big-picture idea that you’re hoping to achieve with it. Be direct with the purpose you want the project to serve and use this section to align the design team with the client’s overall vision and objective through SMART goals .
P.S., SMART stands for Specific , Measurable , Attainable , Relevant , and Time-bound .
Want to learn more about SMART goals and why they’re so important? Check out our goals resources to write and implement goals across departments!
We want our redesigned website to reflect our brand identity better, drive more traffic to our services, and increase email newsletter sign-ups by 25% by the end of our next fiscal quarter.
The next section of your brief covers the who of it all. Not so much related to who you are as a company requesting a design, but who the project is targeted to.
This is where the client commissioning the project will describe their ideal customer, audience, user personas , and use cases . This design is like your first impression—a way to show customers that you have a solution to a specific problem they are facing and that your project meets their needs.
It is crucial for the designer to understand who you’re trying to reach through this request to meaningfully connect with those customers’ needs.
Our target market audiences are female entrepreneurs in the San Diego area in the 25-34 and 35-44 age ranges. These clients want to grow their business by investing in paid ads on social media platforms and want resources to improve and increase their online presence.
Now we’re starting to move into the details and logistics sections of your design brief. ⏰💸
Make sure the timeline provided is realistic and feasible for what the brief is asking. If there are any budgetary or resource constraints, this is the time to lay them down.
Designers need to know when the project is due for its first round of edits, when they can expect feedback from the client, and any key milestones , task dependencies , or deadlines tied to the request. This will help establish clear communication between the designer and the client so all of their expectations are met, and avoid potential bottlenecks while the project is in progress.
Pro tip: Also note if there is any flexibility with the expected budget and timeline.
Our ideal timeline from start to finish is six months. We are announcing our new website at an event in March but want to quietly launch the website a month prior. This extra month will give us some wiggle room if there are any setbacks. We would like to approve the mockups and wireframes, and go through two rounds of edits before we launch.
This section is all about the file details and formatting in which you want to receive the project. If necessary or applicable, specify the size, file type, naming process, and deliverables you’re expecting. AKA, what is your preferred type of video, image, or software to work with and how should they share it with you?
We will approve initial ideas and designs from our digital whiteboard software and review all wireframes in Figma.
To make sure that all of the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, add any other relevant information to the end. This may include key contacts to reach out to if the designer has any urgent questions, approval process details, key dates, client mockups, and more!
This is a great time to specify anything that you do not want to see from this project and inspo images to give the designer a clear idea of what to work off of.
Check our virtual whiteboard for recent work we’ve done with our clients, rough sketches of what we’re imagining for our new website, some research, media, and more!
Our suggestion? ClickUp Whiteboards ! 🎨
ClickUp Whiteboards are highly visual, collaborative, and productive! What’s more, they’re also the only whiteboard software on the market that can convert any object on your board into a customizable task and connect it to your workflows.
With tools for drawing, uploading media, embedding, styling, and real-time editing, ClickUp Whiteboards are built to capture your ideas the moment they happen so you can act on them instantly. Seriously, Whiteboards are every designer’s dream. ✨
Plus, your Whiteboard stays updated at all times, wiping out the need for multiple tabs, constant refreshing, and confusion caused by lengthy text-based descriptions.
RE: Step 1—design briefs are collaborative!
You need the ability to quickly share, edit, and update your design briefs via custom permissions and convenient sharing options like a simple link. This will get the entire team quickly get on the same page (literally) and stay on target. 🎯
Like in a bad game of telephone, inconsistent design project briefs gloss over key ideas and eventually lose the main point of the project entirely. But customizable templates are a surefire way to guarantee every detail is clearly stated.
Think of pre-built templates as a springboard for standardizing the way you write your design briefs. They’re created to simplify and streamline the design brief process so everyone involved can focus on what matters most—the project itself.
The Design Brief Template by ClickUp is your one-stop solution for writing thorough and valuable creative briefs . This template applies a designated List to your Workspace with separate views for managing tasks, timelines, and your overall direction.
In your design brief List view , you’ll find pre-made customizable tasks for everything from client sessions to gathering assets , and seven custom statuses for total transparency. But the coolest feature of this template is definitely the creative brief Whiteboard with colored sections, sticky notes, and diagrams to solidify your project vision, brand, resources, notes, and more.
This template also comes with a thorough how-to ClickUp Doc to walk you through every feature to ensure you’re using it to the fullest extent.
Pro tip :
The Help Doc in the Design Brief Template shows off a ton of styling and formatting features to use as inspiration when writing your design brief Docs in ClickUp.
Set banners at the top of your Doc and throughout the page for a clear outline of information, embed videos, add a table of contents, and more. Or, layer another one of ClickUp’s pre-built templates on top of your Doc to keep the process moving along.
Write Your Next Design Brief in ClickUp
There you have it! Not only are you set up for success with the eight essential steps for writing design briefs, but you’ve got a flexible, free , and customizable template to lighten the load.
The take-home idea though is not just how to write a functional brief, but how to make the most of it. And that’s where ClickUp can help you take your processes to new heights. ✅
ClickUp is the ultimate productivity platform for teams to bring all of their work together into one collaborative space, no matter your use case or work style. Its feature list is loaded with hundreds of time-saving tools to make work management easier and more convenient than ever—with 15 ways to visualize your projects, over 1,000 integrations , in-app chat, and more!
Access everything you need to write effective design briefs including ClickUp Docs, Whiteboards, 100MB of storage, unlimited tasks, and more at absolutely no cost when you sign up for ClickUp’s Free Forever Plan .
And when you’re ready to boost your productivity even further, unlock even more advanced features for as little as $5 .
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How to create a design brief in 7 steps
A design brief is a document that outlines the core details and expectations of a design project for a brand. A good design brief sets the tone for a successful design project by outlining the goals, quality, and deliverables. In this article, you’ll learn what a design brief is, how to create a successful one, and what you should include in your next design brief.
In this guide, we cover what a design brief is, the benefits of creating one, how to write a design brief, and the elements you should always include. Plus, check out an example design brief template to get you started.
What is a design brief?
A design brief is a document that outlines the core details and expectations of a design project for a brand. This document should be an easy-to-understand plan of how the project will be executed. An effective design brief aligns the company and designer’s goals so everyone is satisfied with the final deliverable.
Any company that utilizes design resources can benefit from having designers create a brief prior to their project—whether those designers are in-house or freelance . For the purpose of this article, we'll use client and company interchangeably to represent the party commissioning the design project.
A design brief starts by explaining why a new design is necessary. This includes how the design will benefit the target audience , how it will move the brand voice forward, and how it will fit in with the larger competitor landscape. The designer uses this information to write out the goals and objectives for the upcoming project.
Finally, the brief includes project details, deliverables, budget, timelines, and scope so that everyone has the same expectations. Design briefs are great for keeping both client and design teams aligned.
Design brief vs. creative brief
If you’ve never created one before, a design brief might seem a lot like a creative brief. Overall, a design brief handles more of the preproduction and business side of the project, while the creative brief tackles the innovative execution.
A well-done design brief give both parties a solid layout for how they’re going to accomplish their goals. It’s a great guide to look back on if one party ever feels like the progress is getting off track or a disagreement arises.
Once you’ve done the research associated with a design brief, your team will use a creative brief to dive deeper into the company and target audience to tailor your designs to their needs. This second brief is a more in-depth look into how your design will speak to their customers, what elements you want to include, and the reasoning behind your artistic decisions.
Why do designers need a design brief?
There are many advantages to having a design brief when starting a new project. It gives you time to truly understand the nuances of a company and its audience. A design brief also reassures the client that their opinion is valued and that all parties have the same end goal.
By using a design brief you can:
Create a more trusting designer-client relationship.
Gain insight into the brand and target audience.
Invite the client to be more involved in the project.
Align on a reasonable timeline and budget before the project begins.
Set a standard for the quality and types of deliverables needed.
What to include in your design brief
Design briefs come in many different forms, but there are certain aspects that should be included each time. Once you have included the basics, the design brief can be customized depending on the type of project or client.
Start your design brief with context about why you’re making your creative choices based. The context should also clarify how your creative choices will contribute to the client’s goals. Finally, your design brief should include all of the necessary information to outline a project from start to finish.
Start your design brief by listing out information about the company the project is for. This starting point helps you gain stakeholders’ trust by demonstrating that you understand their market, industry, and brand guidelines.
The project or brand overview typically includes details such as the size of their company, contact information, past projects, or their current design needs. This can be especially helpful when multiple people are working on the same project. Once the overview is finalized, everyone will have a quick summary on hand that they can refer back to as needed.
Questions to ask:
What are the client’s unique aspects?
What does the company do?
What are their brand guidelines and expectations?
What themes or common motifs are important to their brand?
What are the client’s primary needs? How can we meet those needs?
Project scope and overview
Once you’ve written out a brand overview, it’s time to give a detailed description of the design project being executed. This description is a summary of what you’ll be working on, why this work benefits the client, and everyone’s roles and responsibilities .
This is also an opportunity for you to clarify the project scope , which outlines exactly what is needed to accomplish a project. The scope of the project should be agreed upon by both parties to avoid confusion or tension throughout the design process.
What designs will we create?
What issues are we trying to solve with these new designs?
What are the client's expectations of this project?
What is within scope? What is out of scope?
How will we manage scope creep ?
Design goals and objectives
After an overview of the project and company is complete, it’s important to explain the goals and objectives for a project. This section should focus on the design problem to solve and the steps your team will take to fix the issue.
In this section, you should also outline the purpose of the project and lay out concrete steps for how you will reach the goal in mind. This section should give a clear path for how the project will be executed—make sure to keep it as specific as possible.
What will make this a successful project?
What steps do we need to take to accomplish our objectives?
What are our project goals for this design?
What metrics will we use to measure success?
Understanding a client’s customers is critical so you can create designs that speak to the people they’re trying to target. In order to do this, create a design idea board to clarify and contextualize your client’s audience. This board is a chance for you to think about the client’s customers and build a persona with them in mind.
Your client might already have a persona that your designers can use. If they don’t, you can also create one based on your client’s target audience, demographics, psychological characteristics, and hobbies. All of this helps to form an image of who your design work is catering to.
What are your customer’s favorite hobbies?
What are your persona’s demographics and psychological traits?
How will your product or service help your target audience?
What does your target audience want?
What important characteristics impact your target audience’s behavior (whether that’s age, sex, region, etc)?
Budget and timeline
One of the most important steps of any good design brief is to write out an agreed upon project budget and timeline. Many clients that aren’t designers might not realize how long each stage will take, so it’s smart to have a rough estimate for them to refer back to.
When you and your client make a budget for a project, it’s important to be realistic about the time it will take to research, plan, create, and make edits as needed. Be sure to leave enough room in their schedule and budget for potential difficulties or unexpected changes.
How long will this project take from start to finish?
What is the budget for this project?
How long should it take to receive feedback?
How frequently will you and your client update your project timeline tool ?
Every organization has other competing brands and it’s important to understand the competition. Once you have a strong understanding of the brand’s competition you can create new and innovative designs that stand out from the crowd.
Designers should learn from their competition’s past design successes and mistakes to help dictate the direction of their next great design plan. Having a strong grasp of your client’s competitors will help make better design decisions in the future.
Who are the company’s competitors?
What designs have been successful for the competition in the past?
What makes our brand stand out against competitors?
Has my client created a competitive analysis I can review?
All of the information you’ve filled out and the research you’ve done to create a plan for their design is essential for explaining the project deliverables. This, essentially, is what the client will receive and what the end product will be.
Project deliverables will vary depending on the size, scope , and budget of the project. Setting clear standards and writing out the deliverables will help make sure there aren’t any misunderstandings at the end of the project.
What will the end result look like?
What are the deliverables for this project?
What are the major project milestones throughout the process?
Design brief template
Check out our design brief template below to make creating an effective design brief more simple. Below, you’ll find a sample of what a design brief would look like for an ebook campaign launch, but can be customized to fit any project. Use this as a starting point for your own brief to make sure all the details are covered up front.
Design brief example
Use this template as a starting point to further customize a brief that works for your team.
What is your project and what is the scope?
Why is this project important? What are you trying to achieve?
Who are you targeting? The more specific, the better.
What is the overall budget? How should it be spent?
Timeline and deliverables
Outline the date and description for each deliverable.
Benefits of creating a design brief with Asana
There are major benefits to creating a design brief with an online shared system. First, if you create a design brief in a tool like Asana , all of your stakeholders can access the information. This allows for everyone to be on the same page on the project, goals, and timeline.
If your client has questions, the answer is at their fingertips in the tool you’re using. Also, if designers need to intake requests, they can use Forms to automatically get all of the information they need so they can get started right as the request comes in.
Clear design briefs drive successful projects
A well-written design brief will help provide shared clarity surrounding your project goals and deliverables. With Asana’s creative production tools, you’ll be able to streamline your design projects and your team will be able to deliver game-changing results time and time again.
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What Is a Design Brief: Templates, Examples & More
Anyone who’s ever submitted a proposal or tried to snag a design project has probably been asked to submit or create a design brief for the project. It’s a fairly standard practice but can often be intimidating, particularly if you aren’t used to it.
A good design brief is a tool that can help you and design clients get on the same page for projects and help them move along more smoothly.
You’ll outline deliverables and timelines so that clients are comfortable with your process.
Let’s break it down with some best practices, examples, and templates.
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What Is A Design Brief?
A design or creative brief is a document that outlines how a design project should go. It will likely include many of the things that the proposal for the job entailed but will go into further detail for a client that has already decided to hire you.
A design brief can be a powerful project management tool that keeps you and clients on target with everything from deadlines to project milestones to deliverables.
A design brief should do the following things:
- Provide background and scope of a project.
- Set expectations and goals for the completed project.
- Outline constraints, such as budget, creative materials, or timeline.
- List all deliverables and “wish list” elements for the finished design.
- Provides design specs.
Things to Include In a Design Brief
While the specifics of every design brief vary, there are a few sections and things that almost all include in some way.
Make the most of each section by giving it a header in the document. Some sections may have a more narrative format, while others may include a list of bulleted points.
Elements of a design brief include:
- Overview of the company: Brand identity and style, values, and mission
- Project overview: Scope of project and goals (new vs. redesign, client deliverables)
- Goals and audience: Use SMART goals that outline actionable goals that you can deliver on; goals will directly relate to the target audience
- Design and materials needs: Client feature requests as well as things you need from the client
- Budget and timeline: If there are elements that could cause the budget to change, note them; outline key milestones and dates for deliverables
- Overall design style or feel: Overview of the aesthetic for the project
- Notes: Include a short section for any important notes, such as things the client dislikes or aspirational designs
Design Brief Best Practices
While it may seem like a design brief will be a massive document – and even bigger depending on the size of the project – that’s not the case. People generally have short attention spans and a design brief is only as good if it is usable.
The balance lies in creating a document that includes everything you need for a project in a manner and format that clients (and other team members) can scan quickly for information.
- Keep it short. Try to keep the brief to 1 to 3 pages.
- Develop a template that you can use repeatedly for similar projects.
- Tailor the design to mimic the concept of the project.
- Deliver in a digital format, but design for office printers (no bleeds or heavy color that can render poorly with printing).
- Use headings and subheadings for sections to make it easy to find information.
- Use straightforward language and avoid design jargon or getting too deep into what you are going to do. The client only needs to know what the deliverables are, not the path to completion.
How to Design a Design Brief
As a designer submitting a design brief, the look and feel of the document matters.
While it does not need a high-design feel, it should represent you as a designer. In terms of design, it should fall somewhere between a document on letterhead to a more polished piece of brand collateral.
You have two choices when designing the brief:
- Create a basic style that you use for all design briefs that’s rooted in your brand
- Develop a semi-custom design that mimics the style of the client
Every design brief should use the following design elements:
- Your logo (or a simple logotype if you are an independent contractor or feelancer)
- Contact details and information
- Distinct content hierarchy with headings, subheadings, and body type (paragraph and list styles)
- Page numbering footer information to ensure that all pages are identified
- Simple typography that’s easy to read
Design Brief Templates
You can create your own design brief template or download one from a design marketplace as a starting point (that you can further customize as needed).
Here are a few that we like:
- Brief and Scribbles: Everything you need for a design brief, plus pages for design concepts and sketches (pictured above)
- Design Brief: Simple InDesign template that you can customize and fill in
- Project Brief: Simply formatted template that you can use in Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign
- Project and Design Scribbles: This is an extensive template that you can fill in with question prompts to help guide projects
- One Page Logo Design Brief: This has a more visual format for simple logo projects (pictured below)
The challenge with creating a design brief is that it typically falls outside of a designer’s normal comfort level and skill set. At larger agencies, account executives will often work with you to write this document, but as a solo entrepreneur or freelancer, you’ll do it on your own.
The goal is to create a base design brief template that will stand as the basis for all future projects. Depending on your work, you may have a couple of templates for different types of jobs – website design, branding, logo design, letterhead, etc.
A design brief is supposed to make your life easier; use this guide to add tools to your kit that do exactly that.
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Article • 19 min read
How to Write a Design Brief
Getting your design project off to a great start.
By the Mind Tools Content Team
"Design is thinking made visual." – Saul Bass, graphic designer and filmmaker
When you work with an experienced graphic designer, you have an opportunity to carve out the brand identity that you've always wanted, create a user experience that will get people excited about your company, and communicate to your customers exactly what makes your brand special.
But, if the project's objectives aren't clear, you could end up with a piece of work that is disappointing, drab and off target. You may find yourself tied up in seemingly endless – and frustrating – cycles of iteration, while your vision for the project slips further and further away.
So, it's crucial that your instructions are as clear and as detailed as possible. A key part of this is to prepare a comprehensive design brief. In this article, we explain how to structure your brief, and what to include in it to ensure that the designer understands your needs fully from the outset.
What is a Design Brief?
"Designing a project without a design brief is like playing charades." – Devora Homnick, Art Director at Oorah Inc
A design brief is a document that sets out what you want your new design to achieve. It should include all of the key elements that you want your designer to include in the design, as well as other important details such as key contacts, fees and timeframes.
The more detailed your design brief, the more likely you will be to get the desired results. If you are not clear on your objectives from the start, then your designer can become confused and lose focus.
This could mean that you end up with something that is completely different from the design you first envisioned, and which fails to have the positive impact that you had hoped for. Such a mistake can be costly, and could even negatively impact your brand's reputation.
A good design brief is usually structured as a series of questions and answers, and should include details that cover the following four key points:
- Key contacts and stakeholders.
- The problem and your objectives.
- Style guidelines.
- Project management details.
We'll now look more closely at these points and the information that you should include for each.
Key Contacts and Stakeholders
It's important that your designer knows who to contact if they have any questions or problems, so remember to include the following details in your brief:
1. Key Contact
Feedback from various people and departments can make messages confused or contradictory. To avoid confusion, the designer should take direction from just one key contact who is managing the brief and the feedback process. This will help to keep their instructions consistent and will ensure that the design is delivered to the brief's specifications.
2. Business Name
Make it clear whether the design will be for a particular division, brand or subsidiary of your organization, or for the organization itself. The designer will likely do some online research on the business or division that they're producing work for, to get an idea of its current brand identity and what it does.
3. Who Will Approve the Design?
Specify the stakeholder(s) who must give final approval on the design. The designer will want to know what they are looking for, and what criteria they will apply to it when they come to review it and sign it off. You may want to set up a meeting between the designer and the key stakeholders to clarify these details before writing up your final brief.
If a lot of people need to give feedback on it, you – as the designer's key contact – will need to clarify and collate all of this information before passing it on to them.
This will reduce the need for a constant "back-and-forth" between you and the designer. It also means that they won't have to waste valuable time deciphering conflicting feedback from different people or departments.
A common mistake is to give your designer an objective of creating a design that will appeal to customers, but then to give feedback that reflects someone's personal preference. "John doesn't like pink," for instance.
If this happens, your designer will likely be confused, because the design brief wasn't intended to reflect an individual's tastes. They may start to wonder what other shapes, colors and images John dislikes!
If the aim of a project is to create a design that appeals to customers, make sure that the feedback relates to how the design can achieve this. If, however, the aim is to satisfy a particular individual, make this clear before the work begins. The designer can then liaise with this person directly to gain a better understanding of their expectations.
4. What is Our Service or Product?
Describe how your product or service differs from those offered by your competitors. What makes it special or unique ? Why should customers use your product over similar ones on the market?
This can give your designer valuable insight into the type of design that you want. If, for instance, you want a new design for one of your premium brands, you'll no doubt want it to reflect the quality of the product.
In this section, describe what features you offer that make you stand out from the crowd. Instead of saying, "We make network adapters," try, "We're the only company that offers a lifetime warranty on network adapters."
The Problem and Your Objectives
Be clear on the problem that you hope to solve with the design and the objectives that you want it to meet. Give your designer clear direction by covering some or all of the following points in your brief.
1. What Would We Like to Produce?
List all of the assets – or items – that you want the designer to make for you. For example, a logo, a stationery set, a presentation, or an image.
If you want to expand the scope of the project or change it in some way later on, discuss this with your designer and update the brief to reflect these amendments.
Try to include all of the assets that you require in your original design brief. Work that's added later will likely be considered to be outside the scope of your original agreement and may result in additional costs.
2. What Are the Project's Objectives?
Design always has an objective. Perhaps, for example, you want to redesign your website. The primary objective of this will be to improve your customers' user experience . But, your organization's wider objectives might be to make it easier for customers to purchase your product or service via your website, and attract new users.
It's important that your designer understands both the primary objectives of your project and how they link to your wider organizational goals. The more they understand these objectives, the better they will be able to meet them.
3. What Problem Do We Want to Solve?
Creating a new design, or replacing an old one, is often motivated by the desire to solve a problem . Perhaps your existing logo or app icon is out of date or doesn't effectively communicate your product or service, for instance.
Explain the problem to your designer and then work with them to find a solution. They might have encountered similar problems in other projects that they've worked on, and be able to give you some valuable advice.
4. How Do We Want to Be Perceived?
The designer has probably researched your company and will know a bit about your brand's personality and its "tone of voice" – the words that you use on your website or in your marketing material, for instance, that reflect your brand's unique character.
However, you may be seeking to change these aspects of your brand and want these changes to be reflected in the new design.
Perhaps your organization has begun to invest more in green projects and introduced new environmentally-friendly practices. It wants to promote these achievements in a new brand design and be perceived as a "green" company. Not only will this likely require a shift in tone, but it may also require a re-design of the company's logo and website.
So, when you come to fill out this section of your brief, make it clear how you want your company to be perceived by your customers and the role that you expect the new design to play in this. Clarify what elements of your current design you'd like to keep, and what elements will likely need to be removed or updated.
5. Who is the Target Audience?
Your new design could be intended for your existing customer base, a particular segment of it, or a different demographic entirely. Let your designer know who they'll be talking to. Who do you hope that the new design will attract and engage? How do you want them to react to it?
You can clarify who your target audience is by building up a picture of it using personas. Read our article on personas for more on how to do this.
6. Who Are Our Competitors?
List the organizations that you consider to be your key rivals. This will provide valuable context for the project and will give your designer some background information on the market in which you operate. It will also help them to avoid accidentally copying a rival's color palette or logo.
7. How Will We Judge Success?
Designers want to please their clients. They want glowing testimonials and ongoing, successful relationships with the people who they work with. So let your designer know what will constitute a " win " for your organization. Is it, for example, the number of shares that a video or image gets on social media, positive customer feedback, or an increase in sales?
The design work that you want will likely need to adhere to your organization's particular style guidelines. These are the standards that your organization uses for its documents and media to make sure its tone and branding are consistent.
It's important that you are as clear as possible when describing these to your designer. Use the following points in your brief to help you to do this:
1. Tone of Voice
Are you introducing a new tone of voice specifically for the promotion, product or event that your designer is working on? Or do you want the work to adopt your organization's existing tone of voice? Be clear on whether the personality of this project should be in keeping with your current brand or if it's a variation of it.
If your design includes written information (or copy) – if it's a pamphlet or a logo with a tagline, for example – make sure that both your designer and your copywriter understand that the design must match the copy, and vice versa. A medical institution that uses a playful, jokey tone of voice on its website, for instance, will likely leave users confused and could even find that its integrity is damaged.
2. Color Preferences
Color is the element of design that captures people's attention most powerfully, so it's important to get it right.
Define your color palette as soon as possible, and make sure that it's signed off by all of the key stakeholders. Otherwise you'll risk some laborious work correcting the new design later down the line, as well as the additional cost that this will likely involve.
Be wary of changing your existing color palette if you're a well-known, established brand – after all, this is how your customers know and recognize you.
3. Example Designs
Designers tend to be visual people, so visual guides will likely be the most helpful when they come to read your brief. Include examples of designs that you like and the elements of these that you want to be incorporated into your design. This can really help a designer to get a more exact picture of what you want.
A common mistake is for a client to micromanage the designer. This can prevent the designer from making a valuable, creative contribution, and often occurs because the designer does not have a clear idea of the client's needs. The client, in turn, might take this to be a sign of low confidence or poor ability, and take even more control.
You want to get the best out of your designer. So, if this happens to you, talk your concerns through with them and find visual examples that demonstrate what you want. Once they are clear about what's required, the project can get back on track.
A good design is a distillation of an idea. Describing an organization in complete sentences is a luxury that the designer doesn't have. Put yourself in their shoes, and try to distill your vision into a few key words . Doing this will give your designer a memorable point of reference, which they can easily refer back to at any time.
5. Existing Materials
Show your designer some assets that you've used in the past, and explain what you did and didn't like about them. This will likely help him to understand what to include and what to avoid.
If you can't put your finger on exactly what's wrong with your current design, but you'd like something to be more attractive generally, emphasize this to them. Designers often have a good instinct for how something can be made more visually appealing.
In 2015, Adobe® carried out a survey of more than 2,000 people in which it discovered that 38 percent of respondents would stop engaging with a website if the content or layout was unattractive.
Project Management Details
Like any project, the design work that you commission will need to be delivered on time and to budget, so you need to be clear on these parameters from the outset. Include the following points in your brief to ensure this:
1. What is the Project's Budget?
Will you pay a set price for a package of assets? Or will you pay the designer a daily fee? If you need amendments done at a later date, how much will they cost? Be clear on the fee that you are willing to pay your designer up front, so that they know exactly what they're agreeing to. This will also help you to keep track of how much is being spent on the project.
If you and your designer discuss matters relating to payment by phone or video call, take notes and send an email confirming all of the agreed points immediately afterward. And, don't forget to update the design brief with these details!
2. What Are the Due Dates for Each Stage of the Project?
Some projects simply take longer than you expect. However, including a rough timetable of when you expect work to be completed in the brief will help the designer to understand how long he has to spend on each stage of the design process.
Remember to update your design brief if deadlines are renegotiated.
3. Is There Any Additional Information That You Should Include?
Try to "head off" any potential problems that may crop up, by including everything that you think the project's key stakeholders will want to see in your original brief. Then, get them to look over it before you send it to the designer, to check whether there's anything they'd like included or omitted.
Also, try to anticipate additional potential uses for the assets that are delivered. For example, if there's the possibility that you'll later enlarge a new logo design for use on a billboard, be sure to mention it in your brief from the start. Then the designer will be able to create an adaptable design: a design created using mathematical points like vector shapes can be enlarged infinitely without reducing the quality of the image, but one that is composed of pixels, such as a bitmap design, cannot.
A template of a design brief that includes all of the points that we have covered in this article can be found here . Why not use it the next time that you need to produce a design brief?
When you work with designers, good communication is key to ensuring that you get the best from them.
This can be achieved by writing up a clear and comprehensive design brief. This should give your designer a detailed idea of what the design should look like and what it will be used for, and will provide both of you with a written record of what has been agreed.
A good design brief should cover the following four points:
- Key Contacts and Stakeholders.
- The Problem and Your Objectives.
- Style Guidelines.
- Project Management Details.
If any elements of the brief change during the project, update it immediately. This will make the design process smooth and efficient for both parties, and will help to make sure that the project doesn't drift off-brief or exceed its budget.
Remember that your designer is the expert here. So, although you know your audience the best, don't discount their input. They may have valuable insight to offer. Share and respect one another's knowledge and experience, and you'll be sure to create something special!
Adobe Inc. (2015). The State of Content: Expectations on the Rise [online]. Available here .
Dzulkifli, M.A. and Mustafar, M.F. (2013). 'The Influence of Color on Memory Performance: A Review,' The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, 20 (2), 3-9. Available here .
The following are trademarks: "Adobe" (see adobe.com ).
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Your guide to writing design briefs (with a free downloadable template)
Maria jennings, • jul 12, 2019.
Consider a good design brief to be the bedrock on which your latest design project will be built. And as anyone living on landfill in earthquake country will tell you: everything needs a strong foundation.
Whether you’re working with clients or colleagues, the brief is a critical part of good communication. Let’s go into what design briefs are and what they have to include.
What is a design brief?
Although it can take many formats and follow many templates (we’ll provide one later in this post), the purpose of a design brief is capture the key details of a project and ensure that the client and the designer are aligned on what’s being asked.
Contrary to common belief, a brief is unlikely to be handed to you by a client at the start of the project. On the contrary—a brief is usually written by the designer themselves in order to ensure they have all the information they need to start work.
A design brief should capture exactly what the designer needs to accomplish in a given project and ensure that there is full agreement on issues including project deliverables, budget, and schedule.
Iif you happen to be freelancing, a good design brief is even more important: it can limit scope creep, safeguard your own schedule, and protect you from clients with unrealistic expectations or moving goalposts.
A good brief can save you headaches down the road—but that’s only if you capture the right information. So how can you make sure your brief is providing an earthquake-safe foundation? Let’s take a look at the most essential ingredients in any excellent design brief.
1. Company and brand overview
A good design brief often begins with some information about the client and what their brand stands for. Including this helps to connect an individual project with the bigger picture.
Aim to capture key points about what the company does, how big they are, and what their key products or services are. Here are some other questions you could put to the client:
- What makes this company unique within its industry?
- What is your brand’s mission?
- What are your brand’s keywords?
- What kind of feedback do you get from customers?
As with any sections of the design brief, you can write this up in prose or bullet-point format. The key thing is simply to capture the information that you need to deliver the project.
Here’s an example of an effective company and brand overview:
2. Goals and objectives
A design brief would be of no use without a description of the work that needs doing, so the next priority is to capture goals and objectives for the project.
Goals describe the overall purpose of the project, while objectives are concrete measures of success in reaching a goal. The more specific and unambiguous these are in the project brief, the clearer the path will be for your work.
Here are some questions to ask the client to help get clarity on project goals and objectives:
- What do you want this project to achieve?
- What does success look like for this project?
- Is this the first time this design problem has been tackled, or is it a reworking of a solution that already exists?
- If it’s a rework, what needs to change, and why?
Here’s an example of a good goal and objective section:
You’ll see the goal and objective are both specific and measurable, setting the client and freelancer up for easy management in the future.
3. Target market or audience
Knowing your audience is an essential aspect of good UX. Every robust UX design process begins with research, both about competitors and end users.
Some clients may have a wealth of research insights they can share with you about their target market or audience. If they don’t, or if your analysis of those insights doesn’t give you what you need, you may need to explain how incorporating research into the brief could benefit the project.
To help yourself assess what’s required here, you could ask the client questions like these:
- How would you describe your target audience?
- What are their demographics, habits, and goals?
- What devices do they use?
- What research has been done to identify and understand your users?
- Do you have supporting documents, like personas or empathy maps, that I can review?
- Can your budget and schedule accommodate user research?
Although discussing budgets can be awkward, it’s essential for both the client and the designer to be aware of what the budget is and what constraints that budget will place on the work that can be done. Understanding the budget and agreeing to a schedule are pivotal points of the briefing process—not optional extras.
Where possible, try to find out information about budget at the very beginning of discussions—before even gathering other details in the brief. If necessary, explain that knowing the budget means you can tailor your proposal to meet their needs while not coming in over budget.
Best practice here is to itemize costs so as not to surprise or overwhelm the client. Most clients are not designers or developers, and will need to have things like web hosting, domain registration, and equipment needs explained.
Try asking these questions to gather the information you need:
- What are the budget constraints on this project?
- Have research, development, and testing costs been considered?
- In what circumstances would there be budget flexibility?
Coming to an understanding of the project schedule is as important as laying out a clear budget.
Non-designers often don’t know how long it takes to design a website, logo, or interface, so as the designer, you need to manage the expectations of your client while still respecting any internal deadlines they might have.
Setting realistic expectations at this stage will stress and frustration down the road for both you and the client.
Discuss with your client:
- What internal deadlines this project needs to align with—for example, product launch dates or industry events.
- What are the key milestones within the project itself?
- How would you like to handle review periods and revisions?
- What turnaround time will you need for those reviews, and the subsequent changes?
- How much flexibility does this schedule allow, if any?
If you can tell a budget or schedule isn’t feasible, let them know and try to suggest an alternative or scaled-down solution instead. If you don’t have the capacity to meet their needs, try to refer them to another designer you know and recommend. This will help preserve your relationship with the client for the future, and may leave the door open for other work.
6. Project deliverables
Although every part of the design brief is important, ensuring that you and the client have a shared understanding of project deliverables is fundamental to a successful project. Without this, you could reach the end of the project before you discover you’ve created the wrong thing.
Even a small misunderstanding could make the difference between the client assuming that you will be building out and developing the entire website, and them understanding that you will only be supplying mockups that they then need to contract an engineer to make into a live site.
Here are some questions to ask to help you get clarity on what deliverables are required:
- What will you expect to have from me at the end of the project?
- What file formats should work be supplied in?
- What asset size and resolution are needed?
- Is there a specific prototyping or handoff platform that require to be used?
- Do you require me to handoff work directly to a development team?
7. Stylistic preferences/creative direction
The client doesn’t need to provide any creative direction, but if they have strong opinions about what they do or don’t want their product to look or feel like it’s best to find that out before you start work.
In particular, find out if there’s anything they definitely don’t want to appear in the design. Sometimes this will be extremely arbitrary—like “I hate yellow”—and you can take this on board if it’s something relatively unimportant.
Other times, you might need to explain that you won’t be able to observe all the client’s preferences if your research and design work suggests otherwise. Listen to all your client’s ideas, but play it by ear and politely push back if required.
How you approach this will also depend on whether your client has a designer or creative director in-house. If they do, ask to be connected with those people so that they feel included in the work and are discouraged from derailing progress later on.
Here are some questions about creative direction that you could put to your client:
- What are the strong points in your competitors’ products?
- What don’t you like about your competitors’ products?
- Is there a brand style guide available that I should observe?
- Are there any fonts, colors, or styles that we should avoid?
- What previous design or marketing materials can you provide me with?
- How would you describe the style you’re looking for?
- What styles would you prefer to avoid?
Other points you might want to note
- The competition. Who are the company’s primary competitors?
- Key stakeholders. In a company of any size, your point of contact is unlikely to be the only stakeholder. Find out who the important people are within the company.
- Final approver. Someone within the company will have the power to approve or reject your work at the end of the project. Again, try to find out who this is and if possible establish any issues that might be at play in the approval process.
How can you make sure you have a brief that works?
One way of ensuring you follow a robust briefing process for each project is to take a template along with you. We’ve created an example template here (link to download PDF and Sketch formats) that you’re welcome to use and adapt!
Ideally, take a little time to create a template for your design briefs which is customized to the specific kind of work you do. There is no one-size-fits-all; the exact information you need is defined by your own design process and preferred way of working.
Don’t forget the magic step…
So you’ve been to one or two meetings with the client, and you’ve written and revised the design brief for the project. Time to get started, right?!
Not quite. A design brief is of only limited value if you’re the only one who ever sees it. The true purpose of a design brief is to align the expectations and understanding of the designer and client.
Once you’ve reached this step, take the time to send over your brief to the client, at the very least for their review and verbal approval. In larger contracts or more formal projects, you may also want to have the client officially sign off on the brief before you begin work.
One way to handle this without creating too much friction is to book a call with the client to go through the brief. Ideally, get a small stakeholder group together, including the person who will give final approval on the project if possible.
Work through each section of the brief together to ensure that you’re on the same page. They’ll appreciate your attention to detail, and, most importantly, get a better sense of your design process and what to expect. Whether or not you ask them to formally sign off on it, always make sure they receive a copy of the final, agreed brief.
No matter how you choose to develop the brief, don’t be afraid to ask questions . Clients often don’t have a great understanding of what a designer’s work entails; they could use some guidance from you on what information you need to do your job. It’s better to ask your questions at the outset of any project than worrying about misunderstandings down the line.
With this checklist in hand , go forth and freelance! Know that getting the answers you need from the get-go will make for a more relaxed designer and a more satisfied client in the end. You’ll be able to rest easier knowing that the foundation of your project is as solid as a rock.
Want to read more about working with clients?
- 14 mistakes to avoid when working for your first freelance client
- What do you do when a client fires you?
- Why bad clients keep coming your way
by Maria Jennings
Maria Jennings is a San-Francisco-based UX Writer at Designlab, a mentor-led online UX/UI education provider. Find out more at trydesignlab.com!
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How to write a rock solid design brief (with examples).
Design briefs are an essential part of every successful design project’s workflow. They align everyone involved on the purpose, milestones, and end goals of the project.
A well-written design brief is like a roadmap:
- It helps you identify and avoid roadblocks early on.
- It speeds up the design and development process.
On the other hand, a design brief that contains nonessential information and gaping holes causes even the best designers to struggle to do great work. Even worse, running a project without a design brief results in chaos with countless phone calls, ping-pong email threads and lack of clarity on design direction and project milestones.
In this guide, we’re going to explain the benefits and show you how to create a design brief so that you can make your creative projects a roaring success. We'll give you valuable insights on what to include, tips for success, and even examples and templates to get you started on your next graphic design project.
What we'll cover
Table of contents, what is a design brief, the benefits of using a design brief.
- Who writes the design brief?
How to write a design brief
3 design brief examples to use for inspiration.
- Key Takeaways
A design brief is a short document—typically one or two pages—that explains the strategy for a design project’s visual direction and aesthetic. It also outlines the goals of the project and maps out the plan for how your design team will get there. This plan can include the number of versions and design mockups expected over the course of the design project , a visual mood board and design inspiration examples, branding guidelines for the design team and expected delivery dates
A design brief is a type of creative brief , which typically encompasses all the possible elements of a creative project.
The main focus of the design brief should be on the results and outcomes of the design concepts and visual direction. It should also relate that design vision to the business objectives of the project. In other words, it allows the client to focus on what they want to achieve before any design work starts on the project.
Finally, design briefs are usually signed off by the client and design team at set milestones in the project to ensure everything remains on track.
Starting a new project with a design brief is beneficial to both clients and designers. For example, a design brief:
- Equips designers with the background, foundation and insight to create the end design.
- Sets out the client’s expectations, visual taste (what they do and don’t like), and branding requirements for designers.
- Keeps stakeholders and contributors on track to complete the project on time and within budget.
- Ensures the project is understood and agreed upon by both parties from the outset.
Who writes the design brief?
Various opinions exist, but most designers would expect an initial design brief from the client. From there, it can become a working document that gets approved by both parties. But there are other options:
With large companies, it’s typically a Company Director, Marketing Manager, or Marketing Executive who writes the design brief. In smaller companies, it’s usually the business owner who writes it.
Sometimes the brief is written by the designer rather than the client. Designers usually have a design brief template to be completed by the client that ensures they have all the information they need to start work.
A third option involves the client and designer collaborating on the brief. This allows both parties to clarify goals and objectives, get input from stakeholders, and sign-off quicker.
The point is that both parties have a vested interest in getting the design brief right and signed-off before any design work starts. The client has to initiate the process, even if it’s asking a designer to meet and discuss the project so they can get ideas down. Some designers will have a standard template they’ll ask clients to complete first and then flesh it out with more details in a meeting.
Whomever writes the design brief needs to include key elements so that everyone involved has a clear picture of the requirements.
You can create design briefs in different styles and formats. But a good design brief outlines the deliverables and scope of the project, including any outcomes, timing, and budget.
Design briefs are used across a wide range of projects including those in the fields of architecture, interior design, fashion design, and industrial design, as well as graphic design, web design, ecommerce, and branding and rebranding.
Depending on the nature of the project and the client requirements, there might be slightly different sections, but as a general rule of thumb, a good design brief generally includes:
An overview of the business
Goals and objectives of the design project, the target audience and market, the competition, project design information, project deliverables, project timescales, project budget, project approval.
Let’s look at each element in more detail.
Design briefs should always include an overview of the client’s business so that all stakeholders are familiar with the brand and what it stands for.
Key elements to include in this section:
- Company details, including name, industry, and product lines.
- Brand differentiator and/or unique selling proposition.
- Brand mission, vision, values, and messaging.
Questions to address:
- What’s the size of the company, and how long has it been in business?
- What makes this company unique within its industry?
- What is the product or service?
- What is your brand’s mission?
- What are your brand’s keywords?
- What kind of feedback do you get from customers or clients?
A design brief needs to describe:
- Goals describe the overall purpose of the project.
- Objectives are measures of success in reaching a goal.
Both need to be specific and measurable so that you can evaluate the success or failure of the project. For example:
- Goal – increase traffic to the website.
- Objective – increase landing page visits by 10% by the end of Q1.
- Objective – increase new monthly visits to 40% of total traffic by Q2.
To build a thorough design brief, address questions such as:
- What do you want to achieve with this project?
- What does success look like for this project?
- Is this the first time this design problem has been tackled, or is it a reworking of a design that already exists?
- If it’s a rework, what needs to change, and why?
- What existing assets can be used as inspiration for our desired outcome?
It’s essential to understand the target audience and market for the design.
For example, a website designed for teenagers will look and work differently than one designed for corporate decision-makers.
Determine what outcome will resonate with your target audience by considering questions such as:
- How would you describe your target audience?
- What are their demographics, habits, and goals?
- What devices do they use?
- Do particular colors resonate more with their lifestyle?
- What research have you done to identify and understand your target audience?
- Do you have supporting documents, like buyer personas or empathy maps, that I can review?
- Can your budget and schedule accommodate further market research?
Note: If the client doesn’t have this information or more is required, then you may need additional budget.
Knowing the brand’s competition helps inform the design process and clarify the strategy. For example, what works for your competitors will likely work for you, but you need to know how to stand out from the crowd.
Make a list of direct and indirect competitors. For example, when launching its Watch Edition, Apple listed competitors as:
- Samsung Galaxy Live Watch: Though a trusted tech brand, its bulky, masculine designs are not as aesthetically appealing.
- Moto 360 by Motorola: A mid-priced option with a round face that resembles a traditional watch rather than a mini-tablet.
- LG G Watch R: A mix of classic style and technology.
- Fitbit by Tory Burch: A high-functioning, affordable sports tracker disguised as jewelry.
Implement competitive intelligence into your brief by outlining answers to these questions:
- Do you want to do something similar or strikingly different from your competitors?
- What are the strong points in your competitors’ designs?
- What don’t you like about your competitors’ designs?
Clients don’t have to provide creative direction–the design team will handle that. However, it’s good to list requirements about what to include or exclude.
Include any reference materials:
- Brand style guidelines; e.g. fonts, colors, tones.
Uncover what your client has in mind by asking these discovery questions:
- Is there a brand style guide available?
- Are there any fonts, colors, or styles that we should avoid?
- What previous design or marketing materials can you share?
- How would you describe the style you want?
- Do you want high-end or down-to-earth?
- Do you want to be bold and dominant or easily approachable?
- What styles would you prefer to avoid?
- What is the size of the design?
- Where is the design going to be used; e.g. web, business cards, stationery?
Both parties need to have a clear understanding of what outcome is expected. Make sure expectations are set on both sides.
Include any of the following details about your deliverables:
- Asset dimensions/resolutions
- File formats
- Required color palette
- Image assets to be included
- Associated copy documents
Get on the same page as your client by asking outcome-based questions such as:
- What do you expect to have at the end of the project?
- What file formats should the design work be supplied in?
- What asset size and resolution are needed?
- Is there a specific prototyping or handoff platform that should be used?
- Do you require me to handoff work directly to a development team?
Clients need to state when they want to start and complete the project. If timescales don’t fit with the designer’s other commitments, it could be a non-starter.
Aside from starting and ending the project, there will be other milestones along the way like concepts, final designs, development work, and reviews. Clients also need to account for providing their timely feedback throughout the project – otherwise, they could end up delaying the process and missing deadlines.
In short, both parties need to be realistic and flexible to account for potential changes or unexpected obstacles to project timescales.
Determine a timeline by asking:
- When will the project start?
- When will the project finish?
- Are there any inter-dependencies for this project?
Both the client and the designer need to be aware of the budget and constraints before the work commences.
The project budget has to align with project deliverables to avoid the possibility of scope creep.
Don’t avoid the subject. Discuss it as soon as possible so both parties know what to expect.
- What are the budget constraints on this project?
- Have research, development, and testing costs been considered?
- In what circumstances would there be budget flexibility?
In this section, list all the key stakeholders, contributors, and points of contact within the project with their assigned roles. You'll need a primary point of contact for the project, plus a person responsible for the final sign-off on all project deliverables.
Make sure all the details are listed, including their name, email address, and phone number. Remember to include any third-parties involved in the project, such as copywriters or web developers.
- Who’ll be the primary contact person for the project, and who will have the final sign-off on all deliverables from the client's side?
- Is anyone else to be included in the approvals?
- How will the review and approval process work once design begins and progresses?
Here are three different styles of design briefs to give you an idea of what’s possible.
1. Hush Puppies
The design brief example from Hush Puppies ticks all the boxes. It’s presented in a formal layout with clear section headings highlighting each component of the design brief.
2. Quaker Oats
The next design brief from Quaker Oats has a different layout, but when you look closely, you’ll see it has all the essential ingredients. The background facts also provide handy information on the problem and what Quaker Oats want to achieve with their campaign.
3. Apple Watch
The final example for the Apple Watch Edition uses some existing photos to add substance to the design brief. But aside from that, you can see all the required elements, plus the “mandatories” of what and what not to mention.
Good design briefs are essential for any successful design project as they benefit both the client and the design team by:
- Equipping designers with the background, foundation, and insight to create the final product.
- Setting out the client’s expectations, taste (what they do and don’t like), and branding requirements for designers.
- Ensuring the project is understood and agreed upon by both parties from the outset.
- Keeping all stakeholders and contributors on track to complete the project on time and within budget.
The information you include in a design brief and how you manage the approval of the design plans can make or break your design project. Before you begin creative production, be sure to:
- Prioritize creating a design brief before launching any project to align on expectation and outcomes.
- Document all aspects of the project from inspiration to budget to deadline in order to eliminate any surprises or differences in opinion.
- implement a workflow tool that streamlines clunky processes in various platforms so that teams can stay focused on the outcome without unnecessary admin tasks.
Ziflow is the perfect tool for successful sign-off of design briefs by the client and design team as all stakeholders get real-time updates and notifications throughout the review and approval. Learn more about using Ziflow's creative collaboration platform to review and approve your design projects from brief to final version .
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How To Write a Design Brief (With Examples)
Need help with graphic design work?
Looking for more information on how to write a design brief? Writing a design brief can be challenging, you might have the idea for the goal of the content and what you'd like it to look like in your mind but struggle when it comes to writing it out in a way that makes sense for your graphic designer. Communication is the key to making any process more efficient, and it's what will help to speed up your design process whether you outsource or use our unlimited graphic design subscription plans . In this article, we're going to chat about why it's important to spend a few extra minutes perfecting your design brief and how you can do that.
Why is it important to write a clear design brief?
Just like with absolutely any project from interior design all the way to what you're having for tea tonight, a bit of planning means you'll avoid mistakes that cost time and money. We know it's more than tempting to get through a design brief as fast as possible so you can move on to your more important tasks, but spending a few extra minutes to make sure your brief is clear and thorough will make all the difference to the efficiency of your design workflow.
When ideas are explained in that little bit more depth, your designer can understand not only the style you are going for but the goals you are aiming to achieve with the graphic. Understanding that means that your designer can work more effectively towards your businesses' goals, and also means they can offer great pieces of advice that might move you towards achieving them faster.
Step 1: Your brand guidelines
To speed up the entire process of writing a design brief, it's really important to make sure that your brand guidelines are up to date and have been sent to your graphic designer. Your brand guidelines should include the following...
- Brand colours (with Hex /RGB/ CMYK codes)
- Your logo variations for various sizes
- Fonts your brand uses
- Imagery and icon styles your brand uses
- Any other relevant information to your overall visual identity
When your designer has your guidelines they are easily able to create graphic design that is perfectly branded, without you needing to write your brand requirements into the brief every time.
Step 2: What's the format and purpose of your design?
The very first thing that needs to be outlined in your design brief is what the design is going to be used as. This dictates every other design choice going forward, so you'll need to clearly outline the graphic design format you need straight away. Here's where you'll let the designer know if you're asking for a social media graphic, an advert to be used on LinkedIn or an ebook front cover etc. You'll also let them know about any specific dimensions you need here at the beginning of the brief.A quick recommendation from us on this part - let your designer know what you aim to achieve with the content too. Are you looking for your audience to click on the image, do you need it to drive brand awareness or is it for engagement? Design plays a big part in moving people to an action, so including that small detail can help inspire more design ideas.As an example brief for a social media graphic you might write... " This brief is for a social media graphic to be used on Facebook. The graphic needs to be 600 x 600 pixels. We're aiming to direct our audience to our website's blog with this graphic! "
Step 3: Explaining your design vision
This step doesn't need to be confusing, explaining your design vision just means letting the designer know what you envision when you think of your graphic. Do you see it using a lot of bold colours, iconography and imagery? Let your designer know! Whilst it's great if you know exactly how you'd like your design to be laid out, we know it's not always possible to plan to that much detail. If you are open to the designer using their own experience to combine all the design elements you've mentioned, just let them know the overall style and information that needs to be included.So for example if it was a design brief for a social media graphic you could say... "This social media graphic should use abstract shapes in the background and a simple, flat icon that represents the concept of 'saving money and time.' We think the copy should be aligned in the centre of the graphic,¬† and we want to keep it overall as a minimal design."¬†
Step 4: The details
Your designer will also want to know if you have any specific imagery, fonts and colours in mind that you want to use in your graphic. This is an important step since it's the bit that will help to align you and your designer fully. If you have any specific imagery that you want to be used, like a behind-the-scenes picture of your team you'd like to be incorporated or a font pairing you'd like to use, let your designer know. If it's a brand colour you can refer to your brand guidelines, but if it's another colour you'd like to use it's really helpful to let them know the hex code of the shade you're thinking of. If you're not entirely sure but have an idea you'd like to communicate, you can use a tool like Coolors.co to come up with a colour palette and collect the necessary codes from there.For our example of the social media graphic brief, here's what you might write... "We want to use the font Helvetica for the main copy in this graphic, and use a lighter font weight for any body copy. For the abstract shapes in the background please refer to our brand guidelines for the complimentary colours to our logo. We'd like the flat icon in the graphic to be kept white. We don't have the icon needed for the design already, so we'd like you to source an icon that fits the brief please."¬†
Step 5: The deadline
At Design Cloud we'll work through the tickets in your design queue every business day, but letting your designer know your deadlines is still a key part of the brief. We ask our clients to make sure that the tickets in your queue are prioritised so that your designer is working on the most important project at all times, but knowing your deadlines will make sure that your designer can flag up if there might be any issues in your queue.
Turnaround times at Design Cloud are measured based on the complexity of your design, so by including the deadline of your brief our designers can flag up if there might be any challenges with time.For our example brief, you might write... "This social media graphic is scheduled to go out on the 10th November."¬†
The final design brief
So, putting all those steps together, here's the final brief... "This brief is for a social media graphic to be used on Facebook. The graphic needs to be 600 x 600 pixels. We're aiming to direct our audience to our website's blog with this graphic! This social media graphic should use abstract shapes in the background and a simple, flat icon that represents the concept of 'saving money and time.' We think the copy should be aligned in the centre of the graphic,¬† and we want to keep it overall as a minimal design.We want to use the font Helvetica for the main copy in this graphic, and use a lighter font weight for any body copy. For the abstract shapes in the background please refer to our brand guidelines for the complimentary colours to our logo. We'd like the flat icon in the graphic to be kept white. We don't have the icon needed for the design already, so we'd like you to source an icon that fits the brief please.This social media graphic is scheduled to go out on the 10th November." By using a few extra lines to explain your design vision in that little bit more depth, you'll notice a more streamlined design workflow whether you are outsourcing or working with a designer on your team. If you're working with a dedicated designer from Design Cloud , a detailed brief can help speed up your turnaround times and will help your designer get to know your brand even faster.
How to Write a Design Brief: Examples and Free Templates
By Joe Weller | January 20, 2020
Design briefs help designers and clients work together to ensure projects, products, or services include crucial design-centric components from the start. In this article, you’ll learn how to write a design brief and find free templates.
Included on this page, you'll find details on what a design brief is , free design brief templates , information regarding how to write a design brief , and much more.
What Is a Design Brief?
A strong design brief helps both clients and designers capture design ideas and preferences, as well as customer and target audience marketing details, and it documents the process at every step — matching what is desired with what is feasible. Whether you’re a designer, client, or product or project manager, you need assurance that a product, project, or service will be designed effectively and executed without a hitch, come launch.
Whether it’s for a logo, interior, product, or website design, a design brief should encompass every detail and possible obstacle, and it should guide the project all the way to successful completion.
The Benefits of a Design Brief
In short, a design brief is a roadmap for success. Just as you can’t build a house without blueprints, you can’t execute a great design project without a well-reasoned design brief. When you don’t have one, your design projects may experience scope creep , with changes constantly derailing agreed-upon design details, resulting in the scope shrinking or expanding at the whim of stakeholders.
A design brief not only defines the scope of a design project, but it also helps keep everyone in agreement and the project on track. It’s an agreed-upon, vital contract that guides both clients and designers from initial ideation all the way to a strong, viable end-product.
Your design project’s success rests primarily on the degree to which you use a design brief effectively. It should serve as a record of ideas and their implementation, as well as a contract between designer, client, and other invested parties.
How a Design Brief Works
A design brief creates a living record of ideas, options, and choices for a design-centric project. It allows clients and designers to work closely together, from initial brainstorming sessions to project execution. Designers can use it as a mood board to capture a client’s initial ideas, and then flesh out the details and logistics for execution.
Additionally, the design brief serves as a way to record the details about any changes or obstacles the project experiences. From there, you can continue toward project completion; the brief serves as an understanding between clients and designers. This keeps all parties on the same page — and drastic midproject changes in check — as the design brief assures designers and clients that ideas must be realistic according to time, budget, or other constraints.
In short, a design brief offers assurance. It not only provides reassurance that a design project will succeed, but also serves as insurance — in case of a roadblock, you can review, alter, and then set back the design brief on target for eventual launch.
Design Brief Templates
Simple design brief template.
This simple design brief template allows designers and clients to work side by side in order to collect the design’s requirements in one place. Start with client-specific details, and then enter details pertaining to the project, objective, target audience, style and tone, message, deliverables, format, schedule, and budget. This uniquely customizable design brief template is a living, breathing contract between client and designers — from initial ideas to launch — and is an excellent solution for keeping design specifics in a single location.
Download Simple Design Brief Template
Excel | Word
Design Brief for Logo Design
A logo is a graphical symbol for a company — the company’s visual identity. Logos are challenging to design because a lot rides on them. This design brief for logo design provides designers with all the required details to create a successful company logo, including information about the business, desired design style, audience, usage (signage, business cards, etc.), emblems, mascots, colors, and other visual considerations.
Download Design Brief for Logo Design Template
Word | Google Docs
Design Brief for Graphic Design
Good graphic design is effective visual communication, but great graphic design solves problems through the successful use of design elements. Use this customizable design brief for graphic design to create a mood board that helps you capture details for your project. Whether you need to consider client-specific details or audience, or to drill down into the particulars of typography and illustrations, this design brief for graphic design captures design details for a graphically rich project, and it provides space to include client and project details, objective, creative design elements, target audience, and more.
Download Graphic Design Creative Brief Template
Excel | Word | Google Docs | Smartsheet
To learn more about the creative brief process and to find additional resources, read “ How to Write a Creative Brief .”
Design Brief for Interior Design
When it comes to interior design, you want your client to feel as comfortable as possible in their desired environment. Use this design brief for clients and designers alike. Take your client’s initial ideas about designing a space’s interior, and then provide them with suggestions and improvements on their ideas, as well as solutions to any interior design-related challenges. This interior design brief provides space to capture client and project information, lifestyle details, style preferences, measurements, floor sketches, and more.
Download Design Brief for Interior Design
Design Brief for Product Design
When creating a design brief for a product, you not only have to consider how it looks, but also how the product provides meaningful and relevant experiences for users. But before you can start moodboarding with a client, you must first define the following:
- What are the product’s functionality and features?
- Why are people motivated to use it?
- How is the product used, and how accessible and easy is it to use?
Considering the above questions can help you assist your client with their product design. Then include the following in your product-centered design brief:
- How does it help users?
- What problem does the product solve?
- What opportunity does this product offer?
- How can the product be defined?
With these questions in mind, you’re ready to work hand in hand with your client to create a successful product with this unique design brief.
To learn more about this process and to find additional resources, read “ The Definitive Guide to Integrated Product Teams and Integrated Product Development .”
Download Design Brief for Product Design
Design Brief for Website Design
The key to creating a successful website is to ensure that its design-rich, engaging exterior works seamlessly with all of the coded functionality behind it. Track the impact on your business and product performance with the easily fillable design brief for website design template below. When creating a website design brief, consider the following:
- Who are the website’s users?
- What is the look and feel of the desired site?
- How will this website improve the company’s brand?
- How will you ensure this site will be mobile-friendly?
- How easy will it be to navigate the site?
- Due to design brief considerations, will the site increase web traffic overall?
Use this comprehensive design brief for website design to ensure that you take into account all design components — and programming considerations — from the get-go, so that your dynamic website is up and running in no time.
To learn more about this process and to find additional resources, read “ Key Elements of User Interface Design and How to Use Them When Designing an App or a Website .”
Word | Google Docs
How to Write a Design Brief
Whether you need to capture design-specific information for logo design, graphic design, interior design, product design, or website design, the right design brief template can help you make sure you’re getting all pertinent details. You also need the right template to assure stakeholders that mission or scope creep don’t derail the client’s design project.
Additionally, whether you’re the designer or the client, avoid working in a silo. Instead, work side by side with each other so that you have a mutual understanding of what’s expected of the design project initially, its progress, and its objectives and required deliverables.
When using a design brief, it’s helpful to remember two golden rules:
- A good design brief leads to the successful launch of a product, service, or environment.
- A product cannot succeed in today’s competitive market without a great design brief to start.
Successful Components of a Design Brief
Although the subject matter will determine the specifics of a design brief, the following components are crucial to ensure adherence to typical design plans, as agreed upon by designer and client:
- Project Name/Title: Enter the name or title of the design brief (either how you or the client refer to it).
- Client Details: Include all of your client’s contact information (name, phone number, email, etc.), as well as their business, what they do, what they sell, and so on.
- Project Details: Enter all relevant project summary, research sources, scope, findings, and research details.
- Objective: Provide details of the client’s goals, desired outcomes, and measurable objectives.
- Creative/Design Elements: Record all of your client’s desired design elements. (This is a perfect opportunity for moodboarding to determine what they like design-wise and why they like it, as well as to inspect existing design models for what they’re looking for.)
- Target Audience: State the target audience for the design project.
- Attitude: Describe the project’s tone. Does the client’s brand have a personality? What is the attitude that the client wants to convey with this design project?
- Competitive Analysis: Capture any competitive-analysis details. Who — or what — is the design project’s competition?
- Image Requirements: List the media that the client wants for the design project (graphics, photography, multimedia, etc.).
- Schedule: Define the projected timeline for the design project. What are the important dates and deadlines?
- Budget: Provide details of the client’s budget, including monetary amounts (or another medium of exchange), financial sources, or notes on additional financial projections.
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Interior Design Client Brief Template Example
What Is a Design Brief?
- A design brief defines the scope of the design project . Hence, this document must contain the most important factors and elements that must be considered by the design team and the clients as well. The aesthetic of the project is commonly discussed in this document so that it will be easier to finalize the functions of the design team, the demands and requirements of the client, as well as the budget, time, and other items that must be considered for the transaction to push through. You may also see policy brief templates and examples .
- A design brief serves as an introduction of the design project . It provides the instructions that are essential to be followed by the design team as well as the obligations of the clients especially when it comes to the identification of the design project particulars that they would like to see once the transaction is done. Design briefs can be used in a variety of industries and fields ranging from interior and industrial design up to architecture and engineering. You may also like free creative brief templates and examples .
- A design brief is used as an initial guide . Hence, the content of this document can change as the design project progresses and develops. With the help of a design brief, it will be easier for the design team to have effective decisions about the changes and project shifts that they would like to implement. This only proves that design briefs are essential documents used within the evolution of the project. You may also check out summary writing examples and samples .
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Design brief template example.
Importance of a Design Brief
- Developing a design brief helps in outlining the expected deliverable of the project. This means that you need to make sure that the design brief that you will create contains a descriptive list of the products and other raw materials that are essential to be acquired for the project to be completed. You may also like meeting summary examples .
- Creating a design brief can be useful to the design team and all the stakeholders of the project as this document can be used as a reference once the design has already been presented or executed. Through a design brief, the clients and the design team can assess and evaluate whether the expected deliverable has been implemented and given accurately. You may also check out movie summary examples .
- Making a design brief can present the rights of each parties involved in the transaction. A design brief, like marketing brief examples , is made to disseminate obligations and accountability in a formal manner. Through a design brief, the clients can have a realistic and measurable perception of what the design team can provide them with. On the other hand, the design team can also set the quality standards when it comes to their performance so that they can give what the client needs and expects in a timely manner.
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What Should Be in a Design Brief?
- The title of the project where the design brief will be used
- The nature of the design project and the ways on how the brief can be of help in its organized execution. You may also see summary examples .
- The general statement or description of the problems that must be faced within the design project
- The design project risks that both the clients and the design team must prepare for
- The summary of the project and its design requirements
- The constraints of the design project which includes the discussion about the project budget, the timeline to follow, and the particular design requirements of the project. You may also like research summary examples .
- The benefits of tracking project and design updates with the help of the design brief and other organizational and presentation tools
- The solution/s to the issues and concerns of the clients in terms of the attainability of the designs that must be executed
- The sketches that can visually showcase the project areas, phases, and specifications
- The goals that must be accomplished by the design team at a given time period. You may also check out dos and don’ts in writing a chapter summary .
- The due dates that must be looked into by all stakeholders to ensure that the project finished on time
- The evaluation of the initial design plan for the project
- The conclusion for the transaction and other additional information that can be of help to improve and further develop not only the design brief but the project as well.
The Best Way to Write the Most Compelling Creative Brief
1. provide a company description., 2. give a brief yet complete project summary, 3. state the project’s target audience or users, 4. mention the specific project budget., 5. specify your objective., design brief template and guide example.
Design Brief Template and Example
Creative Brief for Project Design Template Example
How to make a creative brief for a website?
1. construct your introduction wisely..
- company description
- products and/or services that your company is selling
- size of business or company
- the scope of the business (e.g. global, local)
- duration of the business reign
- adjectives that can describe your company
2. Compare the old website v.s. new website.
- positive aspects of your old website
- negative aspects of your old website
- its duration since its first launch
- levels of traffic on your old website
- traffic percentage from handy gadgets such as tablets and phones
- based country
3. Talk about the budget.
- budget for the website’s design and enhancement
- presence or absence of the budget for ongoing support and the maintenance
- the digital marketing budget for the next 6 months
4. Mention some samples and records for inspiration.
5. don’t forget the content., 6. consider other important details..
- the technical matters of your website
- maintenance of the website
- promotional media (online and offline)
- digital marketing of the website
7. Summarize it on conclusion.
Tips when making a design brief.
- Present the overall design style, aesthetic, or look that you would like to implement, which should also be based on the specifications of your current clients.
- Know the audience that your design brief will target. This will help you put together relevant, necessary, and helpful design information. You may also see the interview summary examples .
- Review the draft of the design brief before sending it to your clients. Make sure that the document is free from grammatical and formatting errors.
- Use outlines and general checklists when it comes to organizing the content of this document. Moreover, ensure that the details in the document are updated and accurate.
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Design & Product
Jun 23, 2020 • 13 minutes read
How to write a powerful design brief in 9 easy steps
A design brief is a project management document outlining the specifics of a project. Here's how to create a great design brief.
Have you ever heard the tale of the sinking library? The basics are this: an architect built a beautiful library, but after a few years, the building started sinking. Upon reviewing their work, the architect realized the issue: they forgot to account for the weight of the books.
Whether you're building a library or a website, most projects have a lot of moving parts. With a lot to keep track of, you might miss something critical. So how can you avoid those mistakes? How can you make sure you don't forget the "books"? For a design project to be successful, the design brief is essential.
In this article, we look at what a design brief is, why you should use one for your design projects, and share a nine-step plan to create an effective brief that helps you keep everything on track and achieve your goals.
What's a design brief, and why do you need one?
A design brief is a project management document outlining the specifics of a design project. There's no standard of what to include, but some common points are the design project overview and scope, timelines, target audience information, and budget.
There are plenty of reasons to use a design brief, but there are two that we think are most important: efficiency and direction. Whether you’re a professional delivering a new design to your client or a business looking to hire a design agency, a well-written design brief is imperative to doing great work. Showing your client an overview plan of the project means you can confirm everything before the work starts. This saves time and money for both of you.
A design brief serves as the source of truth for your project and guides the design team's overall direction. Having a well-defined brief helps designers focus on the right tasks and deliver great work.
Who should write a design brief?
If a company decides to partner with a design agency on a new design project, they need to write a design brief. Design briefs are the starting point of any design project and should provide an overview of the company, the problem to be solved, and the expectations.
Although the client creates the design brief, design agencies or freelancers usually participate in its creation. For example, clients might have a general idea of the project and know what problem they’re trying to solve, but they may not be familiar with the design process . In this case, designers work closely with the clients to help finalize the design brief and set the right goals and expectations.
What should be included in a design brief?
For a design brief to be effective, it needs to be clear and concise while including all the relevant information to give a good overview of the project. A brief can vary depending on your specific project, but in general, it should include:
- An overview of the business : This section gives designers an understanding of the client—their company, industry, market, and design needs
- Project overview and scope : In this section, you can see what work the design team will do for their client
- Information about the target audience : Relevant information might include age, gender, habits, preferences, needs, and more
- Competitor information : Noting down what competitors are doing will give you insights into your customer’s expectations and help you identify what makes you unique
- The goals of the project : This section focuses on the problem to be solved and the desired outcomes
- A project timeline or schedule : Having a schedule will help you set the right expectations and keep the project on track
- The project budget : This section should include the estimated budget for each task in the project
Now that we’ve seen how an effective design brief should look, here's how to create one in nine easy steps.
How to write a design brief
1. Start with an overview of the business
When preparing your design brief, start things off by laying out key information about the business. In the overview, you can include basic details, like the size and stage of the company, the industry they’re in, etc.
From there, you might talk about the brand’s identity and values, key differentiators, and unique selling points. If there is a “point-person” at the company, include their contact information in this section or the contact details for someone else part of the project. The overview is a key section for everyone involved in the project as it provides the required info at a glance.
2. Cover the scope
Now that the brief includes an overview of the business, you should lay out exactly what work is needed, also known as the project scope. Maybe the project is about creating a new logo for the company, doing graphic design work for a landing page, or web design for an existing product.
Both parties should agree on the scope of the project, and describe that scope in the design brief.
Be sure to be as specific as possible in this section. For example, if the project involves creating illustrations or photographs for a campaign, describe this in the design brief. If it only requires web content but not print, be sure to include those types of details so everyone is on the same page and there’s no uncertainty or wasted effort.
3. Define the audience
Frank Chimero , a designer and writer in NYC, once mentioned: "People ignore design that ignores people." Who you're designing for is just as important as what you're designing. To define the target audience, start with basic demographic information like age and gender.
From there, consider including relevant details about the audience, such as the types of stores they shops at or movies they like. You may also want to describe their familiarity with similar tools or products, or where they are most likely to interact with your content.
In some cases, someone in the company might already have drafted personas for their target audience. If not, consider building a persona for the target audience using existing customer information. To build a persona, follow these seven questions:
- Who is the customer(s) of your product or service?
- How do they use your product?
- What are they currently using (if it's a new product)?
- What are some key pain points your product or service solves?
- How does your solution benefit them?
- What causes them to make a purchase?
- What are they looking for in a product like yours?
Understanding the audience helps guide your decision-making and create useful products for the right audience.
4. Understand the competition
In almost every scenario of building products, you will be competing against another company. It's a fact of business. So it's good to have a basic understanding of the competitive landscape. When you understand what makes you different, you can create new, unique work and stand out from the competition.
That knowledge can help design teams decide on the angle of the design project and deliver something that truly resembles the company’s brand identity. In this phase, mood boards are an excellent way for designers to collect inspiration, organize ideas, and present them to the client.
Additionally, when working on digital design projects, knowing how similar products approach design may help designers understand how users complete tasks and their mental models when using comparable designed products. Conducting usability testing with competitive products is a great way to do some preliminary research and gather useful background information.
5. Set specific goals
Good design solves problems. When a company hires a design agency for a project, they’re doing it to solve an existing problem. Maybe they want to get more leads or provide a new product offering to their customers. No matter the case, there’s a specific reason for hiring professional designers, and that needs to be described in the design brief.
Determining the goals and objectives of your design project helps with direction and focus. For example, if the company needs website design services for a landing page that encourages sign-ups, the focus could be on optimizing and testing button placement and color to get a higher click-through-rate.
These goals are usually articulated by the designers with the help of the business and have usually already been investigated with user research and data. If research is part of the project, then the project’s goals should reflect that. For instance, if your design project is building a better user flow for a mobile app, then one of the goals would be to research the existing flow and investigate common issues.
Do your best to be as specific as possible when defining the project goals and objectives. The success of the project will be assessed based on whether the goals have been met or not, so the more specific you can be, the better.
6. Take inventory of what you already have
In most cases, brands will have some assets that designers will use in the project–unless they’re doing a complete rebrand. Maybe they already have a logo design they want to use or a specific page layout implemented in a previous design.
At the very least, they will probably have a typeface, brand colors, and general brand guidelines. They may also have a design system in place designers can use to inform their work.
These items have a direct impact on the design project, so make sure you take inventory of all relevant information and include it in the creative brief.
Existing creative assets can help improve efficiency by making sure you don’t redesign something you don’t need to. Be as specific as you can on how you’re going to use current assets in your work. For example, if you’re reusing brand colors, write down the hex code for those colors you’ll use in the new project.
7. Set the schedule
Setting proper expectations is crucial when taking on any new project. Depending on who you’re working with, they may not be as familiar with the design process. By laying out a detailed timeline and giving deadlines for all deliverables, you will manage expectations from the beginning and deliver your project successfully.
Having specific dates also serves as a way to keep you on track. Consider asking for feedback from all stakeholders involved in the project prior to finalizing the timelines, so everyone is comfortable with your proposal.
List out the timeframes for each part of the project. For example, if you’re working on a new design, you might give a timeline for when the initial prototype will be done, schedules for user testing , and another date for the final product launch.
8. Determine the budget
The budget is an essential aspect of any project. Both parties must agree on the budget from the start, as the budget dictates the work that will be done. In the brief, it’s important to give a breakdown of the budget for each service provided.
It might also be wise to add in some contingency cushion as additional money for unforeseen issues. You can list it that way in the budget, and explain that it's there if needed. If you don't use that by the end of the project, you can subtract it from the total.
9. Sum it all up
Finally, make sure you end the design brief with an executive summary. It may seem a bit redundant, but it's good to have an outline that includes all essential information mentioned throughout the brief. Offering a cliff-notes version at the end allows the client to review and sign-off on the project easily.
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Start using a design brief for your projects
When you've finished working on the design brief and got stakeholders' approval, it's time to start working on the design project. When you create a design brief, you compile all the essential information the design team will need during the project. Any work done during the project, such as creating a design proposal , is made easy by the design brief.
Creating a design brief is no small task, but it's worth it when done right. Not only does it help avoid roadblocks and sets proper expectations, but it can also serve as a source of truth for you to keep everything on track and moving forward—which is what you're aiming for.
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What Is a Design Brief?
A design brief is the essential starting point for any project. It’s where you get to define your goals, your audience, and your project’s constraints.
It’s an essential tool that helps you to avoid mistakes and misunderstandings with your designer or developer. It’s also a great way to make sure that everyone understands what they are expected to do.
So what exactly is it? A design brief is a document explaining how you want your website or app to look and feel. It includes all the specific details like colors, fonts, images, layout, and more.
Why Do You Need a Design Brief?
You need a design brief for many reasons. It helps you to convey your vision, it helps the designer to understand your needs, and it will help you to communicate effectively.
A well-written design brief is essential for any successful project. If you want your project to succeed, you need a good understanding of what the client expects from the project. The design brief should include all the details about the project and its objectives. This way, you will be able to choose an appropriate designer who will be able to meet your expectations.
The most important thing about a design brief is that it must be easy to read and understand. The language should be simple as this can confuse even seasoned designers! Make sure that everything is correct in your brief because they can give an impression of an unprofessional company.
A good design brief should also provide enough information about the target audience, budget, and deadline so that the designer can properly prepare his/her design ideas before meeting with you in person or over email/phone call/Skype, etc/
Who Writes a Design Brief?
Design briefs are usually written by the person who will be responsible for managing the project. This may be the designer or an internal business manager or executive.
The process of writing a design brief can be very helpful in clarifying what you want from your design or marketing project. If you’re working with someone else to write your design brief, make sure to review their final version with them before sending it out to potential vendors or freelancers so that they have a clear understanding of what you need from them as well as how long they have to complete their work by (if applicable).
How to Write a Design Brief
A good design brief should be clear, concise, and easy to read. It should set out what you want from your designer and provide as much information as possible so that they can do their job properly.
Here are some tips on how to write a good design brief:
Introduce the business
The first thing you should do is introduce yourself and your company. Your client needs to know who they are working with and if you have any previous work they can refer to, which will help them trust your expertise. Also, let them know what kind of experience you have in creating this type of design project or other similar projects.
Define the project scope
The next step is defining what exactly need to be done. You should include everything from graphics, layout, text content, etc., which will keep both parties on track. If any specific requirements need to be met or deadlines for completion, include these as well.
Define your audience
You must clearly understand who you want to target with the design . This determines the type of message you want to convey through your design brief. The visual language should be simple and cool if you are targeting teenagers and young adults. However, if your audience is made up of senior citizens or toddlers, then it becomes important that the visuals are easy to understand and not too abstract.
Cover Your Competition
Next, research other products on the market that serve similar purposes as yours. How do they compare to yours? Which ones appeal more to your target audience? Why do they prefer those over yours? You can also take inspiration from these existing brands by incorporating similar features into your own product or service!
A good design brief should have clear goals and objectives. What do you want the design to achieve? Is it to boost sales? Or gain new customers? The goal of the design will determine how you can go about making it happen. For example, if you want to increase sales, you may need a website that is easy to navigate or a shopping cart that doesn’t require much information from customers before they can make their purchases.
Take a tab of existing designs.
Preliminary research about existing designs can help in determining what works and why. It also helps in spotting mistakes that should be avoided in future designs. If there are no existing designs that meet your criteria, then this is where creativity comes into play!
Write the schedule
Another thing you need to do is set up a schedule for your project. This will help keep things organized and ensure that everything runs smoothly. Once you have decided on the schedule, share it with everyone involved in the project. This way, everyone will know what needs to be done at what time so they can plan their schedules accordingly.
Determine the budget
Once your schedule is set up, it’s time to determine how much money you want to spend on this project. You can either create an internal budget or work with an agency or freelancer specializing in graphic design or website development services. The amount of money you spend depends on how big or small your business is and whether or not you have sufficient funds available for this type of investment.
Compile Design Brief Components
Finalize by compiling all the components of your design brief into one document. This includes things like client information (name, address, contact info), project status (start date, end date), overall objectives/goals, budget limits/constraints/restrictions, document formatting requirements (if any), etc. These items can come from multiple sources, such as emails or phone conversations with clients or colleagues who are familiar with the project details or through research on similar projects completed by other designers.
How long should my design brief be?
The length of your design brief will depend on your industry and how much time you have allocated for it. If you have several weeks to work on it, then it might be best to write a longer, more detailed one. If you don’t have much time, you can keep things short and sweet. A good rule of thumb is 1-2 pages maximum. This gives enough detail for your designer but only takes up a little of their time reading through something they may not need (or want).
A design brief should be a snapshot of your client, their business, and their aspirations. Everything the designer does and says about the project is based on the brief. Get it right, and you will always get it right. Always.
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