A Great Design Brief Will Get You Great Results!

Over the years, I’ve executed and overseen a large number of design projects – some small, some big, and mostly very successful. I will admit though that occasionally there have been situations where clients have not been happy straight away, and it’s taken a lot of back and forth to get to a good end result. These situations can be difficult for both the client and the designer, stretching budgets and straining creativity. With a good designer, and a good design brief, these woes can be easily and completely avoided.

Tell Us What You Want, and Why

Sometimes, clients simply forget to tell designers why they want the work in the first place. Sometimes there’s a deeper reason than just “for my website” or “to drive sales.”

A few examples:
  • Recognition of a problem with existing design
  • Reaction to bad feedback
  • A shift of audience demographics
  • An effort to improve Google Page Rank
  • A design is needed for a specific event

Telling us why you need the work helps us understand the results you expect to achieve. We know this from experience. The shorter the brief, the longer the design process may need to be!


It has taken me a while to realise that this isn’t necessarily obvious, especially if you’re new to working with designers. I had an epiphany one day while getting a hair cut. I realised that I had a very “lassez-faire” attitude towards hairdressers – having spent years trimming my own hair with clippers, when I started growing my hair again I would just go into hair dressers and barber shops and just say “make it shorter” (or words to that effect).

Then, although I thought I didn’t care, I would invariably come home and get a horrified reaction from my partner, and have to deal with my hair looking deeply unfashionable for a while, until it ‘settled’.

I realised that day that I had been giving hairdressers terrible briefs. I wasn’t telling them why I wanted my hair cut, what I wanted to achieve, and what the people in my life might expect to see.

Tell us How You Want It Done

How you’d like the work delivered is also important, so please tell us when you write your brief! Let us know where your deliverables will be used. For example: will you be using your logo on your website and social media sites, or are you just getting it embroidered on a tee? What size and resolution would you like? Will you be stretching or condensing the image? We can work with you to provide exactly what you need, but if you don’t tell us what you want, sometimes accidents can happen. For example, we once provided a client with final artwork for some printed flyers, but the client then uploaded the print files to Facebook. They looked quite peculiar because print files are set up in CMYK colour rather than RGB… if we had known the client wanted to use the same designs on Facebook or elsewhere on the web we would have provided appropriate files.

Not sure what the difference is between CMYK and RGB? Duke Vukadinovic, online marketing expert at FirstSiteGuide, has put together a great infographic to help you better understand the whole business.

Tell Us When You Want It

Be realistic about timescales, but give us the actual deadline, don’t build in a month of ‘buffer time’! As the name suggests, we pride ourselves on working swiftly and hitting deadlines, however giving a design more time is almost always a good thing! It can be frustrating as a designer when you stay up late completing ‘urgent’ work, only to find that the client has gone on holiday, but of course the opposite situation is even worse. Make sure when you give us a deadline that the work is definitely not going to be needed any sooner!

I hope this post has given you a good idea what you need to put together a great design brief. If you’re ready to do just that, we’ve got a handy online form for you here.

If you have commissioned work that hasn’t gone to plan, or if you’ve had some real success stories, we’d love to hear about it! Feel free to tweet us or just leave a comment right here!