Writing an effective design brief

Beth French

Beth French

Why creative briefs important?

Creative briefs are important but are actually not used that often. Only 27% of projects actually start with a creative brief. Granted, they are time-consuming, and a lot of creatives reckon they are hard work, but a great brief will reward the team in so many ways!

Get all the stakeholders on the same page

All stakeholders will rely on the brief as one of the main points of reference, this is why it is important to ensure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet from the outset.

Collaborative working

With a number of team members dipping their toes in multiple projects at one time, a brief is an integral part to any project running smoothly, and completion of a comprehensive design brief is the starting point of a well-organised project.

Tells the story

A creative brief is at the core of all projects. Having an understanding of the business and their users creates a story for the team to understand and empathise with, allowing them to create the best solution for the audience. Inspiring the team to come up with new ideas will accelerate the creative process.

Improving the approval process

Every designer wants to hit the nail on the head first time around. It is so much easier to determine which parts of the project are successful and which need a little edit and more attention.

The perfect structure

To keep the creative team working in the right direction, it is important to keep a brief short and sweet.

Keep it “brief”

If a brief doesn’t fit on a page or two, then it's way too long. Don’t beat around the bush when writing a brief document, focus on the essential details.

Be inspiring

One of the biggest challenges in the creative industry is bringing a brief to life. It’s important to use inspiring language throughout the brief document including stakeholder’s questions and answers. This will strengthen the brief and ensure the client is bought in the beginning.

Adapt easy

Not every project is the same. It is important to adapt to each client, it’s great to have a standard base to work form but remember one size doesn’t fit all.

The essentials

Although a brief must be adaptable, there are a few basics that are required for any project.

Project objectives

The team needs to have a clear understanding of the project's outcomes. All goals should be measurable whilst creating empathy with the target audience.

Target Audience

Capturing users demographics is just the start, but isn’t very interesting. Try to get an understanding of behaviours, and attitudes unique to the audience. This will create the “lightbulb” moment and spark new ideas to improve usability.


Giving a strong product offering will allow the client to stand out from their competitors. These USP’s should be included throughout the site and target the users buying circle.

Competitor Analysis

Shining a light on the competitor’s advantages and disadvantages would allow the client to find loopholes to build their business.  By doing what they are doing, but better will give a good base to start from.

Creative requirements

Are there any restrictions to be aware of? Are all assets available, from imagery to logos? It’s important to get all the files needed from the get-go resulting in the project running smoothly from the offset.

Budget & timing

Being creative is the fun part, but it’s not all about what the designer wants. Restrictions of budgets and time frame will impact what’s practical, and what is a fairy tale!  Setting expectations from the outset will make managing the client a lot easier in the long run.

Top tips

Creating a “Must have, would like, and not needed” list is a great way to scope out what functionality is required from the outset. From this, it may become apparent that the project needs to be created in phases, and that it is A LOT bigger than initially anticipated.


Our teams have an internal kick-off meeting with all team members included in the project. In this meeting, the sales team would share the objectives, solution sold, budget and schedule with us.