We get it. Embarking on a big digital project can be a bit scary. The industry is full of horror stories about extended deadlines, budget confusion, scope creep, poorly-defined sign-off procedures, and work just not hitting the bullseye.
Here’s the thing though. All of these problems are actually pretty easy to avoid so long as you invest time into the production of one crucial document at the start of every project.
That’s right, we’re talking about having very tight briefs, even if you only need a quickie from your agency.
Yes, I’m blushing too. Take a second to compose yourself…
Back? Ok good. Because this is serious stuff. Writing a great brief for your agency is no joke. For an agency to produce truly great work, their creative and technical minds need direction, boundaries and inspiration to nail down the best possible solutions.
A brief is a document which details everything your agency could need to know in order to fulfil your project requirements to the best of their abilities. It might include a mixture of facts, figures, goals, obstacles and general information that will help the team to find a solution and produce the work.
There’s a subtle but important point there. A great brief does not try to provide the solution for the agency. You should be paying your agency for their expertise and therefore trust them to know what the best solution is for your problem. The reality is, in many cases they will have various solutions they could offer you. A great brief will allow them to choose the very best one for your specific situation.
To help guide their decision-making, you might want to include some or all of the following:
Clearly defined goals
Anyone can tell a digital agency that they want their website to be better. If you want the best from your agency, be more specific.
Do you want more people to add products to their basket? Do you want to reduce cart abandonment? Maybe you want visitors to buy certain products or ranges, or do you want more people to call you instead of using the contact form?
What is the specific thing (or list of things) that you want to improve? Again, you don’t need to tell us exactly how you want to achieve those goals – it’s our job to find the most effective and cutting-edge solutions. But we do need to be told which metrics we should focus on.
Do your research
While you don’t need to worry about finding a solution, it can be useful to give your agency some inspiration. If there are competitor websites, indeed any websites, which you feel are addressing the same problem and are doing so in a very clever way, then let us know about it!
Also tell us if you know of any websites that are addressing the same problem in the WRONG way, for that matter, and tell us why their solution would be wrong for you. Every solution ruled out is a step closer to finding the right solution.
Finally, while we’re pretty good at understanding user types, customer groups and behavioural trends, it never hurts for you to give us some additional insights into your customers; from your perspective and direct experience. Users never cease to surprise us and no business’s customers fit a ‘standard model’ exactly. Help us to tailor your user experience through market research data or even just some anecdotal evidence.
Talk about the future
Change is inevitable. Your business will change, your customers will change, and so too must your website. Make sure your agency don’t give you a solution that will hinder you in the future.
Try to help the agency understand where you think things might be heading further down the line for your business. You may not have a crystal ball, but chances are you’ll have a better handle on the nature of things to come for your service niche or category than your agency will. You are the expert in what you do.
On the flipside to that, try to remember that your agency will have a very good idea of where web tech is headed. Allow them to create a future-proofed technical solution, but provide the info they will need to ensure that their solution meets your marketing needs now and, as much as you can predict, in the future.
Don’t shy away from budget
This is often the most delicate part. However, quite frankly, a poorly-defined budget is the most likely thing to doom a project from the outset. The biggest piece of advice we can offer is to just be open and transparent. This is the only way you and your agency partner can settle on a solution. It’s also the only way your expectations can be set properly.
Contrary to popular belief, most agencies won’t try to overcharge you for a piece of work. In an industry so saturated with competitors, we can’t afford to be uncompetitive in our pricing! We might find OTHER things to suggest to use any additional, remaining budget, but you can always say no to those things.
Moreover, digital agencies live and die by their ability to generate ROI. Ultimately, we want to get the best performance from your website as much as you do, so we can shout about it in a case study. Don’t let awkwardness around budget discussion get in the way of that.
Where do I even start?
Speak to your agency. Nothing makes us happier than a well-written brief, so we’ll be happy to help. And once you’ve done the first one, the next one will be much easier.
Include everything that you think might be pertinent, and nothing that definitely won’t. Be clear and detailed, but please, please be concise. By all means offer some examples to draw from, but draw the line at suggesting actual solutions.
And remember, much like in a swimwear calendar, the best briefs are always the tightest and shortest with just the right amount of detail.
Sorry, blushing again.
Get in touch today for more information and advice. Our friendly team are waiting to help you.