How not to write a killer website brief

How not to write a killer website brief

We see a lot of website briefs and technical specifications, as well as guides on the best approaches to designing and building effective online products.

Something we’ve noticed is that most briefs come from the business’s perspective. Yes it’s important to make sure that your new site or app helps move your brand forward, but that doesn’t mean it should be the primary objective.


The real question that will determine whether that new site is successful is “Is it valuable to my customer?”


Increase sales; promote a new product; improve awareness; acquire new leads – these are some of the goals you might expect to see on a website brief. They’re all admirable goals, and ones that should definitely be used in measuring the success of a project. However, we prefer to first focus on what causes these goals to happen – an effective, satisfying customer experience.

The real question that will determine whether that new site is successful is “Is it valuable to my customer?”

Each visitor to your site has a specific set of wants and needs, whether it’s to learn something, make a decision, remove a doubt or get a good deal. Focus on your visitors and what they need. By doing so and helping them satisfy their needs, you’ll inherently succeed with your own goals. This is what makes a site successful.


Some examples:

Amazon – Yeah, you may think it looks messy but it provides huge value to its customers. It provides them with lots of options; helps them make an informed decision; and then enables them to purchase quickly and safely.

Uber – We’re fundamentally repulsed by its corporate culture but the app itself is incredibly valuable for customers. By focusing on its customers’ needs and wants (‘where is the nearest taxi’, ‘how long til it gets here?’, ‘how much does it cost?’, ‘who is driving it?’) it’s changed the way we travel.

So if you’re receiving or writing a website brief be sure to look out for, or include, how it’s going to be useful for the customer. It’s easy to focus on functionality and end goals, but the hallmark of an excellent brief acknowledges these as side effects of implementing a valuable and engaging customer experience. A great brief or proposal explains how it will the customer will find value.

TL;DR – Fuck functionality, forget your KPIs for a second – just make sure your target audience finds it useful.

Oh, and here are some useful tools for identifying what your customer needs and wants:
Value Proposition Canvas

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