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website development brief

How to write an effective web design and development brief

March 30, 2018

A web design and development brief is an essential document that clients should provide when briefing a project to a digital agency. It should cover the objectives of the project, desired user outcomes, the elements that the website must contain in terms of content, the direction of design, functionality requirements, and any specific technical needs.

Why should you create one?

Taking the time to create a web design and development brief ensures that both the client and agency understand what is required, and the expected outcomes. It should leave no room for second-guessing and assumptions, helping to eliminate mistakes.

As a client, the result of writing a good brief is that you will have considered in detail what you want to achieve from the project and communicated clearly what your expectations are to the agency.

What information should be included in a brief?

Below is a breakdown of what we feel should be covered within a good brief as a guide:

Overview and requirements

  • Provide a brief overview of your business and the project
  • Describe the current situation with your existing website (if applicable): What is working? What needs to be improved? What elements would you like to retain?
  • Explain why the project is needed: Is the existing website dated? Has your business strategy has changed? Are users having difficulty navigating through the site?

Website aims and objectives

  • Outline the aims of the website: Do you want to increase brand awareness, increase customer engagement, promote services, generate sales?

Usability requirements

  • Who is the website targeted at?
  • Are there any specific characteristics that these audiences have?
  • How will they be accessing the site (mobile, tablet, desktop)?
  • Is your site likely to be targeting people with accessibility requirements?
  • What do you want users to think, feel and do when they are on the site?


  • List a few sites you like the look and feel of, and examples of specific elements you’d like to emulate
  • Describe how you would like the site to look
  • Do you have any brand guidelines to follow?

Functionality and technical requirements

  • Outline what users should be able to achieve onsite
  • Does it need to be a content managed website? What do site managers need to be able to do?
  • Does your site need to integrate with any other systems, such as client login areas?
  • What types of user interaction, such as comment sections, will there need to be?
  • Does your site need to be multilingual?
  • Should your site have forms and downloads for the user to complete?
  • Do you own the domain?
  • Do you require hosting?
  • Must your site be written in a specific programming language?


  • Do you have the skills and resources required to carry out a content audit of your existing website?
  • Who will be responsible for generating content (internally or externally), or are you using existing content?
  • Do you have any corporate images, photography or videos?

Digital marketing

The digital marketing strategy of a website is often overlooked when considering a website brief. The promotion of your website, in terms of increasing visibility in search engines and generating a sense of engagement, is vitally important to the continued success of the site.

There are a number digital marketing activities that you should consider:

  • Social media marketing
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Pay per click (PPC) advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing — blogs, video content, social media, infographics
  • Banner advertising
  • Affiliate marketing


  • What is the budget for design and development of the site?
  • Is there a budget for ongoing support and maintenance?
  • Is there a budget for digital marketing? If so, for how long?

These are just some pointers you might want to include in a web design and development brief; I hope they help.

Good luck with your website design brief and don’t forget to get in touch about any development projects. Get in touch with us, even if it’s just for an informal chat about your needs.

Written by Ian

Ian joined the team as Venture Stream’s SEO Manager after the purchase of fellow agency Flow. He has worked in digital marketing for the past seven years, specializing in SEO, SEM and CRO.

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