How to Write an Effective Design Brief

Written by:
Orana Velarde

design brief - header

Is your brand ready to start a new social media campaign, create a new website or update your business cards? While you can DIY many design tasks on your own, sometimes you’re going to need a designer. 

But before the work starts, you’ll want to put together a design brief to get the conversation going with your designer and walk them through exactly what you're looking for.

 

What is a Design Brief?

Simply put, a design brief is a document that organizes all aspects of a design project. Before a designer can get started on your project, there needs to be a good deal of positive communication between the two of you. 

This begins when you interview potential designers and continues with a design brief.

Who needs to communicate?

Well, the designer and the client of course. Some projects also involve communication with the marketing team and the CEO. The only way to put together this information and end up with a perfect end product is through clear communication.

Who puts the design brief together?

Essentially, the design brief is first put together by the client and then finished by the designer. When the client gives the designer the brief, it’s the designer’s responsibility to find out more about every aspect of the brief.

What do design briefs look like?

The way a design brief looks is not as important as what’s in it. The most important thing is that it’s well organized and easy to follow. Using a template helps a great deal to save time and effort for everyone.

Why is a design brief important?

Designing without a design brief is like trying to build legos in the dark. The information in the design brief is not only the foundation for a design project but also the best way to keep all stakeholders in the loop.

Both the designers and client need to make sure that the information is complete, with all the necessary details and nothing is forgotten. 

Before we get started, did you know you can create any type of document with Visme? Not just design briefs. 

 

Preliminary Steps for an Effective Design Brief

Now let's get to work. So how do you go about creating a design brief that effectively communicates your end goal?

Before you even get started with the very first steps to creating your design brief, there are a few things to be solved first.

1. Define the type of design project.

What exactly do you need to be designed? Visuals for a social media campaign or an ebook to use as a lead generation tool? Maybe you need a website redesign or an ecommerce addition to your existing site.

You need to be clear with what you need because not every designer is a unicorn.

If you need a website, an app, a set of email funnel visuals, business cards and more, you need a design team instead of one designer. Design briefs need to be kept to one project at a time. So be specific and stick to what needs to be done at the present time.

2. Find the right designer for the project.

Once you know what exactly needs to be designed, it’s time to hire the right designer. Consider your budget and find a designer on LinkedIn, Freelancer or any other site where designers offer their services. 

3. Have a conversation – designer and client.

There is nothing more important for finalizing a design brief, than communication.

The client and the designer must set up a meeting, in person or via video call to discuss every aspect of the project. The questions asked and the notes taken are what complete the design brief provided by the client.

4. The final design brief deliverable.

The designer takes all the information home and puts together the final design brief. Once that part is ready, everyone involved in the project needs to see it and sign off on it. This needs to happen before any work is done. 

The design brief can be accompanied by a mood board created by the designer. Maybe even a low fidelity mockup. That way the client can get an idea of what the designer is considering to do.

Design briefs can be created in lots of different ways. From simple letterhead documents or spreadsheets to fully visual presentations or infographics.

design brief - infographic design brief template
Customize this design brief template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Here at Visme, we have a set of visual design brief templates for both clients and designers. Our tool is easy enough for non-designers but powerful enough for a designer.

All this is well and good, but what does a design brief need to be effective? 

Let’s take a look.

 

Important Things to Include in a Design Brief

No design brief is complete without detailed information for the following topics:

  • Background information about the company. This shouldn’t be an elevator pitch. Go deeper than that. The designer will ask more once they see the brief, so be prepared.
  • User profile or user persona. Who is your ideal client or customer? The designer is not designing for you, they are designing for this user persona. Be super specific when explaining the characteristics.
  • What exactly is the design project about. Explain what you need from the designer. Specify every aspect of it. If it's a website, explain what needs to be included. If it’s a set of templates, define the amount and in what platform you need them delivered.
  • What are the goals for this project? Include your expected outcome of the project. Include both immediate and long term goals. Explain how you’d like the design to be a part of this process.
  • Competitor analysis. You need to research your competitor and see what they are doing to solve the same problem you need to solve. Include links, screenshots, and thoughts for the designer to understand your vision better.
  • Examples of previous campaigns. Show the designer examples of previous design projects and campaigns you’ve done. Add notes on if they were successful or not. Specify what you’d like to repeat or improve.
  • Branding guidelines. You must include all the branding assets for your company. Those include the following:
    • Colors
    • Fonts
    • Textures
    • Visuals
  • Visual inspiration. Include links, screenshots, and visuals of design campaigns that you aspire to. Likewise, include the same for designs you dislike. Explain which is which and be specific. 
  • Visual stock sources. Either offer your designer the login to your stock image subscription or make sure they have one. You want to be sure all imagery used in your design is licensed and legal to use.
  • A timeline with a deadline. Define the deadline for the project. Adjust the timeline with the designer when you meet.
  • The budget. Add information about how much you expect to spend on this project. Be prepared for that to change, probably increase once you talk to the designer.
  • Contact information. Add contact emails or phone numbers for everyone involved in the project. Specify which is to be contacted first for questions.
  • Expected deliverables. Explain what types of deliverables you need. This includes image file types and raw file expectations.
  • Contingency plan. Draft out a plan for eventual setbacks or additional assets. Specify how to go about adding on assets, tasks, and budget costs.

As a client, when you prepare all this information for your designer, they should still ask questions. A good designer knows that a large part of any project is the backstory.

Be prepared to answer in-depth questions about all the information you provide.

This question and answer process will show you if a designer is invested in your project and if they have understood what your company values are.

design brief - one-page design brief template
Customize this design brief template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Design Brief Do’s and Don’ts

Seeing how important a design brief is for any design project, it’s good to know some do’s and don’ts. 

Follow these tips and your design project will be a success.

Design Brief Do’s

  • Create one design brief per project or campaign. If it’s a big campaign that needs lots of different visual assets, separate the brief into detailed sections. It’s possible that you’ll need a team of designers instead of one. 
  • Show the final design brief to all the relevant stakeholders so there are no doubts as to what is being designed.
  • Be specific when putting together the information. Think less elevator pitch and more friendly explanation. You need to create a relationship with your designer.
  • Provide as much visual inspiration as you can. Both what you like and what you don’t like. Give explanations for both cases. 
  • Share any industry specifics that need to be followed by the designer. 
  • Explain in detail to the designer who your client is. Share the user persona with details.
  • Have a contingency plan in the design brief. This includes time setbacks as well as any added assets that need to be designed for the project. Other contingencies could include new photographs or illustrations that need to be sourced.

Design Brief Don’ts

Here are some things to avoid when putting together a design brief and hiring a designer. 

  • Don’t expect one designer to be able to do too many different things at once. 
  • Don’t skimp out on information that’s to be included in the design brief.
  • Don’t avoid having a one-to-one with the designer. A meeting, be it virtual or physical, is a must for any design project.
  • Don’t expect the designer to know what you are thinking, say it or write it down.
  • Don’t expect everything to be set in stone, sometimes you have to pivot for the project to come out just right.

 

How to Create an Effective Design Brief in Visme

Putting together a design brief doesn’t need to be boring and drab. With one of Visme’s design brief templates, you can set things up the right way for your designer. 

We have three different styles:

  1. One-page document
  2. Slide presentation
  3. Infographic

All you need to do is open one up in the editor and add your own information. Then share it with the designer using a link, download, or print it. Up to you! 

Pro Tip: If printing, leave some empty spaces for notes.

design brief - presentation design brief template
Customize this design brief template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Tap Into More Productivity With Visme For Teams

Visme for Teams is a game-changer. Having these design brief templates available in your Visme team account can increase your productivity by a landslide.  

Simply put together the design brief and share it with the in-house designer of your company. Or even the remote designers you have as part of the team.

After you send them the preliminary design brief and have your one-on-one meeting, they just need to finalize the brief and share it again with everyone involved.

When you have a Visme team account, you can have in-house or remote designers in charge of all the branded templates.

Then, other members of your team can use these templates to create any number of social media graphics, weekly and monthly reports, branded presentations, and blog graphics.

 

Tap Into The Power of An Effective Design Brief

Once you put together a design brief for a project, the second and subsequent times will be much easier. You’ll learn from the designers you talk to what other information was needed and what was too much. 

The Visme design brief template can be used again for another project by simply duplicating the project and changing the design. We suggest you duplicate the project so you don’t lose the previous one.

If you have a business account, then consider saving that first design brief as a template to use whenever you need it.

That’s a wrap up on our guide on how to write an effective design brief. We hope you feel more confident to put together a design brief for your next project. Let us know if you have any questions!

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About the Author

Orana is a multi-faceted creative. She is a content writer, artist, and designer. She travels the world with her family and is currently in Istanbul. Find out more about her work at oranavelarde.com

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