Notes toward the definition of a website

[I’m teaching a course in web content and management.  The major project is a building a website for a client, and this include a creative brief which lays out the plan for the site in terms of the clients needs and expectations.  I didn’t want to give them a template, but wanted them to create their own plan.  Unfortunately, the rough drafts were not adequate so I gave them some guidelines for revision.]

Notes toward the definition of a website:

Although you have some flexibility in how you format and develop your brief, make sure to address the following in some way:

Background.  Put the project and the client in context, including the need for the project and the brand promise of the client.

Purpose and goals.  While the website functions within the context of a brand, it probably has a narrower and more specific purpose and more than one goal.  It is  best if the goals can be quantified. (Also called marketing objectives.)

Communication Strategy.  How does this fit into the communication plan of your client?  What are the key messages?  What support can you offer for the claims you make?

Audience.  This goes beyond simple demographics.  What are these people like?  What motivates them?  What needs are you addressing?  Try to see the project from the user’s perspective.

Voice.  Be sure to address the tone and voice of the project. If the website had a personality, what would it be? Copy guidelines are helpful as an appendix, with examples.  Wire frames and mock-ups could go in the appendix as well.

Requirements.  Review the list of the client (or course) requirements and tell how each is met.  For example, how will you make the site responsive to its platform, or insure that it can be sustained?  Who signs off on the final project?

Promotion.  How will people find this site?  How will you use social media?  Where do key word and other SEO tools fit into your plan?

Beyond this, consider other items that demonstrate your credibility.  Cite sources, for example.  Discuss the results and plans for usability studies.   Discuss rationale for design choices, mandatories and other issues you might address in marketing plans and design brief.  Timelines and budgets are important.

A couple of pages may be sufficient, although the issue is what level of detail do you need so your client trusts your ability to do this.  This will vary, based on the clients needs and knowledge.

Also pay attention to the design and professionalism of the brief itself.  It should inspire confidence in your client. It should show that you can create something clean and concise.

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One thought on “Notes toward the definition of a website

  1. Tom Ball says:

    Do you need any clients who want websites? I’d like one for spiritual direction for sexual and ritual abuse survivors, and a second for Gibralter Security and Firearms Academy. Tom

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