Undertaking a web project is a big decision for any business to make. Whether it’s adding new functionality to your website, changing platform, or a complete site overhaul, you want everything to run smoothly and meet core project objectives. Usually successful web projects have one thing in common – a well-defined brief.

Whilst no two briefs are the same, there are certainly common elements that, with your careful consideration, increase the chance of success:

  • Your Team: internally, who should be part of your project team? From the CTO to Marketing, Content Writers and In-House Developers, your project team should be involved from day one in the creation of key inputs that will make up the final brief.

  Ensuring the team and their input is captured early on will help mitigate risk and manage expectations throughout your organisation.

  • Stakeholder Buy-In: Stakeholders will either be great allies or threaten project success depending on whether their needs and expectations have been properly understood during the briefing stage. Hold individual conversations with key stakeholders to agree their objectives and requirements before you bring in an agency.
  • Content and Approvals: Your website is only as good as its content and we regularly find poorly scoped content to be the single biggest project delay. You may have compelling visuals, clear navigation and faultless functionality, but make sure developing a content plan is top of your agenda. Define who will be responsible for the content, what pages and imagery you need and outline an approval schedule. Gather Content is an extremely useful tool that has helped many of our clients, try using it to help you plan.

Building Your Agency Brief:

This simple guide is designed to help you create a comprehensive agency brief that keeps your project on track and delivers against your expectations:

Who You Are:

By providing an insight into your business, proposals can be built in-line with your business strategy and tailored to drive results.

  • Who are you?
  • Company history
  • What countries you operate in
  • Your business objectives
  • Audience demographic
  • Why is the project needed?
  • What is the position of your current site?
  • What does project success look like?

Digital Estate:

Including an overview of your digital estate is a great way to demonstrate your business structure, existing platforms and third-party integrations you utilise. Aiding the proposal process, this insight allows issues that may impact the rest of your site to be identified early and highlight additional requirements that haven’t yet been considered.

Project Overview:
Examine the key requirements for the new website in order of importance:

  • What’s your budget?
  • What is your project timescale?
  • What are the requirements of your agency?
  • What outcomes are you looking for from this project? 
    Examples may be increase traffic, increase brand awareness, generate additional sales or drive subscriptions
  • What opportunities will the new site create for the business?
  • Who is your audience segments? Do you have key user personas that the site needs to cater for?
  • Is the redesign a refresh of the existing site or a total rebrand?
  • What marketing will you carry out that may impact on the site? SEO? PPC? Social?
  • Will the site need to be deployed in one or multiple phases? Is continuous iterative development required or can it be completed through a single engagement?

Technical and Functional Requirements:

Highlighting technical and functional requirements plays a crucial role in determining the project scope, timings and budgets. Any key functionality left out at this stage could result in a project needing to be requoted later so ensure your technical needs are scoped by considering:

  • Do you have a preferred platform?
  • What are the demands of the platform?
  • What are your design and content aspirations?
  • What functionalities does the site require?

e.g. Does it need an online checkout or member portal? Is stock visibility essential?

  • Does it need to be multilingual?
  • Do you require migration support?
  • Will you require hosting?
  • Are any third-party integrations needed?
  • Do you have an inhouse development, digital or creative team who will support or be part of the project?

As well as getting the functionality right, you should also think about the look and feel of the new site. Have you seen any examples that you like? If so share them! The more information you give at this stage the better.

Project Prioritisation:

A MoSCoW review of your existing website ahead of the briefing process considers the must haves, should haves, could haves and won’t haves for the new site. It’s a great tool to prioritise the greatest and most immediate project benefits to your business. This can include elements such as design, core functionality, platform requirements, user experience, integrations and content management.

Hosting

Often overlooked within a project brief, will you need hosting support from your agency or can you host internally? If you require external support, you should discuss this with your IT department and include any hosting and security requirements in your brief.

Support and Maintenance

Prior to engaging with an agency, you should review the level of ongoing support you want post go live.

  • What level of support do you have now? Is this sufficient?
  • Is there a specific service level that any agency has to adhere to?

Conclusion:

Every project is unique, and each aspect must be carefully considered before any work is undertaken. This guide offers a checklist that can be adapted to suit any project and create a positive agency selection experience. Remember to set your objectives with guidance from your stakeholders, build your team and provide as much information about your business as possible.

Consider your current site and new site requirements, prioritising them. By following these recommendations, you are more likely to deliver a website that drives results and build a long lasting relationship with your web agency partner.