How to Write a Great Website Brief Part 2

Posted By Andi Wilkinson
Creative Director of Made By Factory. UX Designer & SEO Nerd, Andi is also a board member of Manchester Digital, and speaks and writes on a variety of web-related topics.

Time to read: 14 minutes

1

In part two of this article on creating a digital brief template we look at more questions to ask a client when designing a marketing plan.

In part one we looked at nine elements of a creative brief, brief format. So what other questions do advertising agencies ask clients?

We have looked at who you are, what you project aims are, your budget, time frame, point of contact, target audience and who your competition are.

In this section, we will be looking at another 9 steps that can really show you how to write a brief. So let’s continue with our design brief questions.
Read Part One.

9. The Customer Journey: Call To Action

Why you think you need a website and what customers want out of a website can be completely different.

You may be really proud of all that running you do for your local charity, but as a company who sells bespoke fitted kitchens, is that what your customers want to see when they land on your site?

Getting this wrong then can be the difference between that potential customer abandoning your site and finding one that has better information on it.

  • So what action do you want your customer to take when they land on your site? Call you, buy something, subscribe to something?
  • Tell us what you want the customer to do. We once had a very specific client who didn’t want emails, he wanted you to phone him. We need to know this!

10. Your Current Website

Do you have a website already? Most businesses who approach an agency will usually have some form of digital presence but have outgrown it and it may not address their current business goals. We ask our clients the following client brief questions:

  • When was your website built and last updated?
  • Do you have Google Analytics set up and can you share this information with us?
  • How many visitors do you get and how many sessions per month. An average over a year or so is useful info.
  • What devices people use most to access your site, for example, whilst most traffic is heavily mobile, your particular industry may still be heavily desktop.
  • How many enquiries does your site generate monthly on average.
  • Are there any seasonal variations we should know about? For example a luxury watch brand may see a huge spike around Christmas and others around times like fathers day and valentine’s day.
  • What do you like about your current site? What is working and what is absolutely critical if anything to keep? For example a site appearing top for a search term that generates you 100 customers a month – we need to know this.
  • What do you dislike about your site? There’s a reason you want an update overhaul or redesign. This is obviously important to you and is niggling at you. Tell us.
  • Do you feel the website reflects your current brand well, or represents your business properly and if not, why not?

Basically, the more we know about what’s good, what’s bad and what’s ugly, We can do a better job of absolutely nailing a brief.

11. Your new website

So this is the most important bit, the bit any agency needs to nail. Here are the things you should consider.

  • What are the aims of this site? We mentioned this earlier but include more detail here. The aims of the site could include things like
  • Increase online sales
  • Generate more enquiries
  • Attract new and skilled recruits
  • Getting more relevant traffic to your website
  • Increase awareness and visibility of your website and brand
  • To expand into new areas or markets

Considerations

  • What is the size of your new website. You can use an approximation and your agency may also make suggestions.
  • What important features do you want to include? For example, products, case studies, galleries and so forth.
  • What’s the call to action? We asked this earlier under what you want you customers to do.
  • Do you want users to download your cheat sheet, sign up to a mailing list, make a purchase, fill in a form or phone you? This is important, so don’t assume the customer will know what to do, your website should guide them.

E Commerce

  • For an e-commerce website tell us the approximate amount of products you want to sell and whether you will require us to add them.

Other features you may want to include could be:

  • A content management system. (It’s unusual a site won’t have this nowadays)
  • Online bookings
  • Listings (could be jobs, properties, cars and so on)
  • Filters – will your customers need to filter this information.
  • Customer portal. Will your customers need to log in for any reason?
  • Blog section
  • Map
  • Contact forms
  • Any other type of forms
  • Mail signups
  • Member areas for specific content
  • Event calendars
  • Social media integration- do you have accounts set up and will you require
  • that?
  • Forums
  • Careers listings

Other questions to consider:

  • Will the site need to be updated frequently?
  • Which sections will and won’t need updating often?

Do you want to do this yourself or would you prefer the agency to take this hassle away from you.

As a small and busy digital agency, we know how little time can be found to do your own website when you are busy caring for your customers.

The other advantage of an agency is they will do it so much faster, leaving you to get on with what you do best.

12. Content Management System

Most websites use a CMS. Some examples are WordPress, Drupal, Umbraco. Some websites are completely bespoke.

If you plan to keep the website up to date yourself, it’s important to be aware that someone in-house needs the skills and resources to be able to do it.

Although an agency can give you a login and full control, you still need to know how to do this, or employ someone who does.

Remember. It’s not automatically the responsibility of your agency to coach you through how to update your website (unless you have paid them for a training package). If you are building a site with a CMS your agency will need to know:

  • Will you manage all of it, or just be able to add and edit some the more frequent information whilst leaving the less frequent content for the agency to edit (most common)
  • Do you want to allow access to multiple users and what kind of access do they need?
  • Do you need the CMS to integrate with any third party systems or APIs (this can be critical in deciding what CMS is appropriate) For example an estate agent may want to integrate with Rightmove.
  • Would you need to link to a CRM or accounting software, eg Salesforce?
  • Does your website need to be translated into other languages? If so do you have someone to translate them properly?

13. The Technical Stuff

We as an agency really don’t expect everyone to know all the technical stuff, but here are some basic things you will need to think about:

  • Do you have a domain name? Is it appropriate? (Example sallyscakes.com may not be useful if you now do full event planning)
  • What are your hosting requirements? How business critical is daily backups and uptime?
  • Is email hosting part of the project? Changing email providers can be a royal pain. We work with expert partners who take over this process. Your business is important, so we always recommend a professional email solution.
  • What payment gateways if any, do we need to connect to? For example, Paypal, Stripe or Worldpay. If you aren’t currently using any, it is time to do some research on which will work best for your company, and set up your accounts, as they can take some time to finalise.
  • Are there any special accessibility requirements? Is it a website for people who need a specific level of accessibility, for example the visually impaired? Or perhaps it is for people only on mobile in an area with slow broadband.

14. Future Proofing

A website is an investment that needs to return. A good agency will want to help you get maximum Return on your investment. The more we can understand at the outset, the more you will get from your website down the line. Your agency will want to know:

  • Any future business plans we need to take into consideration now? For example, you may currently offer a bespoke service where you process orders over the telephone, but you may wish to do this online at a later date.
  • Are there things on your website you don’t particularly have the budget for right now but you would like to do later? For example, a customer portal.

15. Content

Bill Gates tells us over and over again, content is king. The key is relevant and high quality content.

For example, if your website is vague on its delivery information might lose you valid customers over a site that has very specific information, even if you blog every week.

Remember, your customers are completely in the dark unless you inform them. Your agency will need to know:

  • What do you have already? If you need a new website, then it is because something isn’t right about your existing one, so now is a really good time to think about your content. Remember, your agency can’t accurately quote you if you don’t have any content or you don’t know how much there will be.
  • Do you want an audit of the current content? It may be that some of it is not in line with your current business goals and in fact you may be being found for the wrong reasons. Many sites evolve and have lots of content, but the structure needs completely simplifying.
  • Who will write the new copy? An agency can often offer this service but will need your input. In our own experience, some sites have taken an excessively long time to complete because we have never received content.
  • Do you have images or are you happy to use stock images. Poor images will ruin the best designed website. Hire a photographer and either use stock or send high quality, high resolution images. Don’t send with logos or text on, and don’t crop them or over sharpen, over process them.
  • If there is downloadable material on your site such as PDFs, videos or graphics, do you have them at full quality? For example, a charity may want to provide logo pack for sponsors. They need to be the correct quality.

As you can see, getting content right at the start is the best way to have a successful outcome.

16. Ongoing Maintenance

Every website needs maintaining, otherwise it won’t do what it is supposed to do. Bear in mind, browsers change, technology changes, and Content management systems update, so whoever takes care of this, you need to consider the following:

  • Who will be responsible for this and do they have the necessary skills to do it? (We have had clients break their own websites from attempting to maintain them, so make sure whoever does this knows what they are doing)
  • Then, What will need updating frequently? Ask for these parts to be editable. Content that doesn’t change often, or content that requires changes to the design would be best left with the agency.
  • Next, How much input will you need from your agency? We foster long term relationships with our clients and as such, their websites pay them back over and over.

17. Marketing Strategy

We work mainly with established companies who are on their second or third website, so they know that traffic is earned, and paid.

So then, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can just put a site online and people will start flocking to it. Also, don’t make the mistake of thinking that all you have to do is write a blog. You need a solid strategy.

Your website needs to work consistently with other marketing elements. Tell your web agency about any other campaigns you have going, online or offline.

Do you currently do any of the following? And what results are you getting? If this will form an advertising brief, Think about:

Online

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • PPC/Google Ads or Facebook Advertising, Linkedin and others.
  • Social media. What platforms and how often do you post, what kind of content are you posting?
  • Email marketing, what service do you use, will it need to be integrated? How big is your mailing list and what results do you get from it? How are you using your mailing list and do you have any current funnels?
  • Content marketing

Offline

  • Is the website part of a whole brand overhaul? Would you like the agency to help with this for consistency?
  • Any printed media, brochures, flyers and so on.
  • Outdoor advertising.
  • Any PR Campaigns with PR companies.
  • Direct mail campaigns (Good old snail mail)
  • Vehicle wraps. How many, what where?
  • Sponsorships
  • Merchandise
  • Affiliate advertising
  • Anything else? Telemarketing or other lead funnels.

What Next?

Finally, Don’t be a one site stand. A successful website happens when you have a meaningful relationship with your agency. We want to help.

Be honest and frank and you’ll get good results. Are you looking for help on writing a paid media brief? Read Ben’s article on how he creates a digital marketing brief template. for more creative brief questions read part one.


Useful Links:Creative Brief Sample Ogilvy,
how to create a digital marketing strategy


Factory is a boutique digital agency in Manchester. We value client trust and relationships, gained by clear communication and quality outcomes; if you want honesty, advice in your interest and straight-talking people who give a damn about your business, then we are a great fit.

We have built a number of websites, you can find them here. Contact our team if you are interested in working with us here at Factory.

Download Our Free Template Here



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