HOW TO WRITE A WEBSITE DESIGN/DEVELOPMENT BRIEFING DOCUMENT & TEMPLATE
Whether you are creating a new website or revamping an exisiting one, a new website development project demands a great briefing document. A website can be a very costly exercise if it is not briefed right from the very beginning.
As creative agencies says: “The world most effective ad campaigns start with a fantastic brief” Same applies for website development!
It is extremely important to add strategic thinking on how customers want to interact with your brand and what exact customers’ interactions are the most valuable when they are on your website so you can prioritise efforts.
WHAT TO HAVE READY BEFORE BRIEFING A WEBSITE DEVELOPER
When briefing a website developer about your new website needs, it is important to include on your briefing document and have defined the below areas:
1. BRANDING GUIDELINES
Ensure your new website features your unique brand attributes. The most successful website builds are also the ones where they were clear branding guidelines. Not only you want to defend your brand personality on your new website but more importantly make it shine!
You can hire a branding consultancy firm or a freelance graphic designer with proven branding knowledge to create your branding guidelines. Once you have your branding guidelines document, you should share it with your potential web development providers and ensure they choose a website theme that can accommodate to your branding visual needs.
2. OFFER YOUR DEVELOP SOME TOP INFO ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS
- Objectives: Your top 2-3 business objectives objectives/ goals
- Key products: Your top 2-3 products/services that generate most of your revenue.
- Sales: Expected online sales via your new website.
- Competition: Your competitors websites’ offering and how you can make that offering even better.
3. EXPLAIN YOUR USP TO YOUR WEB DEVELOPER
Whether you’re real estate agent or a boutique architecture firm, you’re not the only website of your kind. The internet world is increasingly crowded and it’s easier than ever for web users to find new, competing providers.
So when people land on website, you’ll need to sell them on why your website is unique — and why it’s the perfect website for them. And you’ll need to do it fast!
This is where your USP unique selling proposition comes in: one line that says what sets your website apart from all the rest. By taking a stand and choosing something that makes your website unique, you’ll become known for that unique quality and stand out from the crowd.
What makes a great Unique Selling Proposition
The most important feature of a USP is that it’s truly unique. A USP says what makes your website different from competitors, targeted to your audience’s unique needs and desires.
A good USP is also specific — you will be doing plenty of things well with your website but what’s the one thing that will make your new website stand out? What’s the one thing you’re known for (or want to be known for)? Why is it that someone would want to visit your website, specifically?
What pain are people curing by visiting your website? And the gain — what’s the big win from spending few minutes on your website?
Lastly, USPs are short, typically consisting of just one catchy sentence.
How to write the perfect website USP
To craft the perfect USP, you need to know both what you need to say and how you want to say it. The first step to understanding what you need to say is learning everything you can about your potential website visitors.
Use surveys of current customers or just lots of market research to create a picture of your ideal website visitor, also known as a “buyer persona.” As a starting point, you should aim to know the following about your ideal attendee:
- What their hobbies are
- How they like spending their time
- What a typical day in their life is like
- Why they would want to visit your website
- What is it that they’re not getting out of the current websites they have access to
But you also have to look beyond what they say they want. Pay attention to both explicit and implicit reasons for visiting your website. Explicitly they might say: “I would visit your website to find more information about your services”.
The implicit reason might be that they’re actually more interested in looking at your prices.
You should also do plenty of research on competing websites to make sure you know exactly how your new website is going to be different than what else is out there.
Once you understand the top, unique benefit your new website will have for your visitors, write it out as clearly as possible. Clear, succinct language makes the statement stronger and more authoritative.
You might want to be creative, but ultimately, you should prioritise simple, jargon-free English that describes what your website is about and what the main benefit of it is.
4. DECIDE ON A CMS (CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM)
A CMS by definition is a Content Management System that allows website owners to create and manage their website content. WordPress is the world’s most popular open platform to create and maintain web content.
View a case study of a WordPress site with Woocommerce Shopping Cart seamless integration.
From experience and after building several websites and online shops, my prefer Content Management System is WordPress. Millions of companies including big media organisations such as The New York Times trust WordPress to create, manage, update and optimise their website content.
These are other CMS options available, however we prefer wordpress.
- Bigcommerce: Sydney born, big commerce is the direct competitor of Shopify. Great for online shops with low budget.
- Drupal Open source CMS.
- Google Sites Free Perfect if you want to build a website only to share a couple reports or write about a project you’re working on. you can build a basic website for free in minutes.
- Magento: ⚡️ eDigital recommended ⚡️ the prefer CMS for enterprise e-commerce businesses looking for a robust CMS platform to promote and sell thousands of products.
- Shopify: Canadian born, shopify is a low cost CMS, direct competitor of BigCommerce.
- Squarespace: from $12 a month you can build a personal website. Great option if you do not care about SEO and need a basic website fast. Online shopping cart charges 3% transaction fee for personal websites and 2% for business websites.
- Squiz Matrix Government entities enjoy its robust workflow structure and changes and updates backups. Easy WYSIWYG interface. Integration with Marketo and Sugar CRM’s.
- Weebly Free website builder option and paid options start at $8 a month for personal websites. There is no transaction fee charges if you are in the business package otherwise they charge 3% transaction fee.
- Wix Free website builder and also paid options starting at rom $4.5 a month you can build a personal website.
- WordPress ⚡️ eDigital recommended ⚡️ As explain above it is our favourite CMS
“I know your website is great if it arouses a feeling or emotion when I visit it. The web developer task, therefore is to make those feelings more precise” Mauricio Escobar.
5. CHOSE A THEME – TEMPLATE
Website themes or templates have made it super easy to build websites and also help you to organise visually your website information. Without a theme your developer will have to hard code your new website and will take far longer time.
At eDigital; we specialise on building wordpress websites using the most popular WordPress theme called: Avada theme which is a great versatile theme that offers a lot of room for customisation. This exact website: eDigitalagency.com.au as well our last client website built were made using Avada theme. The cost of the theme US$60 is covered by the client and once paid the login details should be sent to your web developer. Also, Avada is compatible with Woocommerce the most popular e-commerce platfomr for WordPress websites.
6. CHOOSE AND PAY FOR DOMAIN NAME, HOSTING PROVIDER AND SSL CERTIFICATE (ENCRYPTED DATA)
To have a professional and secure website is important to buy:
- Domain name. It is important to have your own domain name. Not only your business is going to look professional but also no-one will be able to have that unique name. There is no a single rule on how to choose a domain name however the shorter the name the better for people to remember it. Some clients decide to use generic names for SEO purposes, some others prefer to stick to their business or brand names as domain names. From many domain name vendors you can secure your domain for a year or two or 5 or 10 years.
- Hosting provider: You need to pay for registration to a hosting server provider. You can pay for shared hosting or dedicated hosting. With share hosting; the server having your website data will be shared among many other clients (shared hosting servers) or you can pay for a dedicated server where a dedicated server will be given to a single client, the latter of which is particularly common for larger web sites where the hosting needs of the Web site owner necessitate more control and/or bandwidth. This is generally an annual fee.
- SSL Certificate (Encrypted customer data): It is an encrypted security protocol to secure your visitors information when they buy online. Most hosting providers SSL certificates. This is an annual fee.
7. TRANSFER YOUR TAG MANAGEMENT CODE, GOOGLE ANALYTICS Y GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE
- It is important to implement a tag manager solution. The most popular one is Google Tag Manager and you can reap the benefits of having a single bucket code that handles all your advertising and marketing tags. If you are not sure what this means, contact us.
- If you want to track and monitor user activity and traffic sources your developer should transfer your current Google Analytics and Google Search Console codes for your new website so you can have access to visitor data and insights such as: visitor behaviour, conversions and more. Learn more about the benefits of Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
- Tip: Google Search console does not really have a code, your Google Search Console Account only needs to be linked to your Google Analytics Account.
8. DEFINE TOP PRIORITY KEY CONTENT
It is important to have the below info defined before creating your new website. Popular pages your website might require include:
- Home page: this is the main page of your website. this is the page you add in all your marketing material for people to access it. Check out this best home page designs article.
- About us page: the goal of the about page is to offer information to visitors about your company and team. you can add a brief history about
- Clients page: Some potential customers are interested to know what type of clients you manage. On this page you can feature your clients and projects.
- Product pages: Product pages allow you to feature all the variety of products you sell. On this pages you might want to include images, videos and user generated content. You need to include detail description for each product and also tripwire offers (offers that are impossible to resist) and call to actions. You might want to consider if you want to add the option for visitors to add reviews on your product pages. You will need to brief about your product images types and sizes,
- Shopping Cart pages: the best shopping cart platform for wordpress is Woocommerce which integrates seamlessly with WordPress and comes bundled with Paypal. Woocommerce is used by more than 21 million online stores worldwide.
- Contact page: it is important to define fields in advance and confirm which ones should be mandatory fields: name, last name, email, phone number, type of enquiry (so it can be sent to different departments) and an open field to write comments about the enquiry.
- Blog section: It is important to have defined all your blog content categories. it is important to do SEO keyword research before your new website is built to ensure your blog content categories are optimised for Search Engines. Blog categories
- FAQ Page: reduce the amount of people contacting you by offering users access to access to answers to frequent asked questions.
- Testimonials page: visitors can read testimonials from clients.
- Site Map page: Read here about the benefits of publishing a site map page and submission to Google Search Console.
- Subscription page: This is a page with a form for visitors to subscribe to your e-newsletter.
- Search Result pages: offer a search box on your website so people can find the exact content they are looking for. Your wordpress theme should have this options already built, you might need to test it and ensure it works nicely.
- Careers page: A page that describes how people can apply for a job in your organisation and might list current job openings.
- Forum pages: Do you want to offer a Forum? Check what it is involved and how you are going to moderate it.
- Your Affiliate program page: This is a page where you describe your affiliate program and offer instructions to potential affiliates on how to apply.
- Affiliate outbound links: Are you an affiliate of someone else business? You need to ensure all your affiliate outbound links are transfer to your new website so you do not miss any revenue generated by you being part of different affiliate programs.
THINK ABOUT OTHER CONTENT TYPES IN ADVANCE
Will your new website need to support live chat, video, podcast, images (at what resolutions), infographics, pdf, eBooks, excel documents, word documents, etc. Make a list of all potential content types so your web developer is aware of them.
9. DEFINE WEBSITE EDITORS & ADMINISTRATORS
- Administrators Define the amount and type of administrators your new website will have.
- Editors. Define the amount and type of editors your new website will have.
- Registered users. Define the amount and type of registered users your new website will have.
10. REVIEW THE USER EXPERIENCE
- Customers: What are your top 2 customer segments and reasons they buy from you.
- Key Customer interactions: The top 3-4 customer interactions that can be enhance via the new website. A proper wireframe will help on this.
- Key workflows: The most effective workflows for these customer interactions.
- Customer expectations: What’s the expectation from current and new customers when dealing with a business such as yours via online.
- Screen types: does it need to be ready for Mobile and tablet devices? which ones in particular?
- Languages: Does the website needs to be published in different languages?
- Browsers: When testing, which are the top 2 browsers that need to be tested on? Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.
11. CONFIRM HOW YOU WILL BE MONETISING THE NEW WEBSITE
- E-commerce platform to be used: Are you planning to use Magento, Woocommerce, Shopify, BigCommerce, other? which criteria you will use to define this.
- Ad placements: Do want to place ads? via Ad server (Double Click for Publishers)? OR via ad network (i.e. google Adsense)
- Affiliate outbound links: as said before, ensure your developer transfer successfully all your affiliate outbound links so there is no reduction of your affiliate revenue. ( if you an affiliate re-selling other businesses)
12. CONFIRM TECHNICAL AND SEO DETAILS FOR YOUR NEW WEBSITE
- Subdomains: How many subdomains do you need and why?
- Web Hosting Provider, Speed and Security: Which hosting will you be using, what speed do you expect? does it need https protocol? why?
- Test server. This is important because it lets you get everything right and test without screwing it up in real time. Even if you have a current website and you are doing the switch without a test server, there’s almost nothing you can do that you can’t recover from, but it’s still best practice to have a plan and have everything tested ahead of time.
- Crawling data of current website so that you know the current state of the website and for comparison purposes.
- Create or update canonical tags. you might say, what the hell is this? well, it is pretty much telling Google some pages are the key parent pages which you want all the SEO juice to go to.
- Update hreflang tags if your current website uses them, or any other tags such as OG tags for that matter. Again, most CMS systems will take care of this, but it’s best to QA it just in case.
- Update any plugins/modules/add-ons to make sure nothing breaks and that nothing contains insecure content. I commonly see internal site search and forms missed.
- Site Map: Create a site map and pass it to Google via Google Search Console.
- Analytics: Google Analytics code to be implemented.
- Social Share buttons and counts
- your robots.txt file needs to be check and most importantly that is not preventing Google from indexing your new website .
The answers to these questions will be fuel when writing a website design/development brief and discuss it with your website designer/developer.
HOW TO GET THE WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT BRIEF TEMPLATE
“HOW TO WRITE A WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT BRIEF” WAS WRITTEN BY…
Mauricio Escobar is the Founder & Global Head of Digital Marketing Strategy at eDigital. Empowering best digital marketing capability over 18 years via Strategy Workshops, Campaign Management & Training Sessions; Mauricio’s has generated traffic growth and sales for a great variety of Australian brands. Mauricio now consults and trains Agencies, Government & Marketing teams. His articles, strategy frameworks & templates are read by thousands of marketers subscribed to his e-newsletter. Mauricio enjoys nature trekking around the world, conceptual photography & teaching Digital Marketing at Private Colleges & Unis. Certified Facebook/Adwords Marketer – Social Media Specialist – Sydney SEO Consultant – Corporate Trainer – StartUp Investor – International Speaker.
Contact Mauricio today!
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