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How to write a website brief



Writing a brief for a web design project can be a daunting task. The following activities can help you break down the project into the most important factors, and gather enough information to write a brief that you can send to agencies or developers to obtain a quote.

Write a job description

Being clear about what you want to achieve with your website is the most important thing you can do. Once you know what you expect from your site, it’s easier to make it happen.

To help you decide on the best objectives for the site, you could try writing a job description. It doesn’t have to be complicated: what you’re trying to do here is give an overview of the responsibilities of the site.

Here are some examples:

Overview: a brief summary of the role of the website and how it’s going to support your organisation. For example: sell tickets, raise awareness, be accessible, communicate effectively, store archives, collect donations etc.

Admin and back-end: what it can do to reduce workload and join up other systems you have to integrate. For example: be easy to update, integrate with Mailchimp, provide visitor information and metrics, take payments, integrate with CRM systems etc.

Website objectives

Setting objectives for your website will help inform different tactics to make it perform better. Tactics allow you to experiment and learn.

Objectives usually fail because they fail on one of these 3 principles: attract, convert or retain. If you know what you’re aiming for with your objectives, you’ll be able to measure the effectiveness of your efforts.

If one of your objectives isn’t performing well, you can easily see what’s wrong with it. Not enough traffic? Try some tactics to push traffic to the site. Not enough conversions? Plenty of traffic but people aren’t doing what you want them to? Try some conversion tactics: messaging, call to action buttons, improved user journey etc. Not enough returning visitors? Try some retaining tactics: social media messaging, newsletter messaging etc.

Effective objectives are measurable, achievable, and specific – they can be things like:

  • Sell 50% more tickets in the next two years
  • Increase donations by 20% in 2021
  • Grow our mailing list by 200% by 2022

It’s a good idea to have around 3 primary objectives. Primary objectives are the most important things you want to do. You can also set yourselves secondary objectives, which are things you’d also like to happen that aren’t so critical. If you prioritise them like this it will help you focus your activities around the things that matter the most.

Once you know what objectives you’d like to set for the site, place them in order of importance.

Audiences

The next step is to think of the audiences you’d like the site to speak to and divide them into groups. For example:

  • Ticket bookers
  • Parents
  • Potential funders
  • Educators
  • Admin team

Then for each audience group write down the actions and activities you’d like them to be able to do on the site. Some of these could include:

  • Book a ticket
  • See all our shows available to book
  • Watch the trailer for the show
  • Signup for newsletter
  • Find out about venue information

Mapping out all of the above will put you in a great position. You’ll know who you’re speaking to and how to speak to them. You’ll know what content and functionality you’ll need and you’ll understand how it helps you to meet your site objectives, and be able to plan the user journeys accordingly.

Accessibility considerations

There is legislation from the government that is in play now to ensure any new website is accessible. This applies to organisations that are run mostly on public funding, so if this applies to you, you’ll need to make sure the site is compliant with 2.1 WCAG standards, and you’ll also need an accessibility statement on the site.

We have a resource that covers what you need to know. It includes a link to a statement generator and how to perform a simple audit on your site: How to make your online content accessible

We also have a webinar on the topic that you can watch here: How to make your content accessible

There’s a self-audit guide too, which walks you through all the basics of the checks you can do yourselves: Doing a basic accessibility check if you can’t do a detailed one

There is also this accessibility statement generator to help you create your own: Accessibility statement generator

If you have Chrome, you can use this Google tool to run simple accessibility audits: Google Chrome accessibility tool

Next steps

You’ll now have all the information you need to create a brief for your website project. You can use this template to form the framework to create your own.

Once you’ve written your brief you might find our guide on selecting an agency useful.

Further Support

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all arts and cultural organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up for our newsletter below and follow us on Twitter @ace_dcn for the latest updates.

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