How to create a design brief that boosts your client communication?

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When it comes to the creative process, there are few roadblocks like miscommunication. When a designer and a client miscommunicate, projects are scrapped, money is wasted, and everyone’s confidence takes a hit. Furthermore, the client’s time is often wasted in meetings where the design parameters are discussed and refined; this can easily take days or even weeks in extreme cases. So how to create a design brief that actually boosts your client communication?

How to create a design brief? Table of contents:

  1. What is a design brief?
  2. Why create a design brief?
  3. How to create a design brief?

How to create a design brief?

When you ask someone for a favor, you tell them precisely what you need from them. You would never ask your coworker to pass along information they didn’t quite understand to someone who was equally confused.

So why do so many designers try to communicate with clients while lacking clarity themselves? It’s impossible to explain your needs clearly without first discovering and understanding those needs yourself – but how do you determine what a client wants if they aren’t sure themselves?

The key may be developing a design brief that clients and designers can complete together before starting a design contract.

What is a design brief?

A design brief is used to collect requirements that inform and direct the creative process while being managed by the customer (client/user). It forms part of your contract with your client. The better the design brief, the better the outcome (design solution) will be.

The design brief could take the form of a questionnaire, an interview, or some combination of both.

The goal of a design brief is to identify the customer’s needs in such a way that there are few surprises and little room for interpretation.

Ideally, the designer and client will work collaboratively to create a design brief that is specific enough to guide their creative direction and flexible enough to accommodate changes in scope.

Why create a design brief?

The goal of a design brief is not simply to document what the customer wants, but also why they want what they want. The brief allows you to uncover hidden needs, ensure realistic expectations are set from the beginning, and craft solutions that fit your client’s intended use.

A good design brief can reduce miscommunication during the project (which saves time and money) and better communicate value propositions for yourself as the designer/business owner and your clients.

Completing this process early provides an opportunity for discovery if there was no pre-existing knowledge about what you do, and form the foundation of a long-term relationship.

How to create a design brief?

1. Get to know your client and their potential needs

First, you need to know exactly who your audience will be (the client team). Use this knowledge and what you already know about them (their job titles, the company they work for, how they got there) to create the best design brief that will reduce complexity and speed up your client communication early.

2. Develop your brief with the beginning and end in mind

Next, create an explanation that you will present as to why this brief is necessary. The best way to prove the importance of your design brief is by describing both their problem and possible solutions.

This may seem redundant given the existence of the design brief itself, but it’s important to ensure that everyone at your meeting understands that we’re working toward a solution.

3. Create space in your brief to set standard expectations

Setting expectations during the design process will help both parties feel reassured if changes are made along the way. Build into your design brief a place to define and discuss expectations.

Be sure to ask them questions and explore their answers in-depth – this will help you understand their implicit needs as well as explicit requirements (and things they might not even realize they want/need).

4. Build your brief questions

When defining the design brief, consider these areas to create the best questions:
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Use these questions to create a set of questions that you will use to build your standard design brief. Don’t be afraid to give yourself space to adapt your brief as needed for any specific needs.

5. Gain an outside perspective

Finally, consult with someone outside of your immediate team for additional insight into what you’ve built. Take advantage of their thoughts on the design process and how your design brief may be confusing, complicated, or not developed enough.

Whether it’s a friend, family member, mentor, or colleague, this perspective can prove valuable when completing the original design brief.

Boost your design process & uplevel your client communication with innovative tools

While design briefs can revolutionize the client communication and overall design process, they can be challenging to create, implement & follow at first. Thankfully, you can take advantage of innovative tools to boost your design & client cooperation process.

If you are looking for a digital tool to supercharge your communication with clients while designing, check out Firmbee. Firmbee has a project management module that lets designers and clients gain a bird’s eye-view on projects at any stage. The team behind Firmbee has developed an innovative feature called “guest links” – these are links sent to clients which let them see the project, its stages, and progress.

With guest links, designers and clients can intervene or leave structured feedback if something is not going as planned.

Do you have any other tips on how to boost your client communication while designing? Or maybe you’ve got in mind some ideas that should be covered in a design brief? Share them in the comments.

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