You’ve got some great ideas for your new website or website redesign, but how do you communicate them to others involved in the project, especially developers when seeking quotes? Simple, write a website brief.

Read on to learn more or jump straight to our website brief inclusions.

For background on building and redesigning websites check our guide to website planning.

This article is for Trailhead Studio website development clients and anyone else preparing to build or redesign a website.

Website brief definition

A website brief is an outline of client requirements for a website build or redesign used to establish project scope and request quotes.

Why you need a website brief

A website brief serves two important purposes.

First, writing down your ideas is the best way to refine and improve them. You will find this a valuable process even when building your website yourself.

Second, it provides a way to communicate your website requirements and constraints in order to:

  • Gain agreement within your organisation
  • Obtain quotes for completing the work
  • Establish the scope of the project

When asked for a quote, website developers may respond with a document of their own (typically called a website development proposal). Make sure this document accurately represents your website brief before accepting any quote.

How to write a website brief

Try to give yourself plenty of time to do your research and develop your ideas. Not rushing this process will result in a brief that better explains your requirements and limitations, and so a website that better serves your purposes.

Another reason for taking time to think your ideas through is that once you have accepted a quote any changes to your website brief may result in additional costs. Your developer may be flexible when it comes to minor refinements, but expect to pay more if you need to make major changes.

A well written website brief includes a fair amount of information. Despite this, aim to make your brief succinct (short and clearly expressed). After all, your developer’s time is better spent working on your website than deciphering your brief.

When you have a clear picture of your website (i.e. when your brief is in an advanced stage) it’s a good idea to discuss your project with some website developers. You can then finalise your brief confident it is a well-informed document that accurately describes your project.

Get in touch for an obligation free chat about your website project

What to include in your website brief

A comprehensive website brief includes the following information:

Add additional information as needed and leave out information that is irrelevant or unavailable.

Website brief overview

Start by outlining the big picture view of your website project, such as:

Website purpose – Briefly state your what you want to achieve through your website. For example, an offline service provider (e.g. a plumber) could have a website purpose of:

Informing people of our services, demonstrating our reputation for serving the local community and generating enquiries and quote requests.

See our guide to identifying your website purpose with tips and examples to help you make it happen.

Website pages – State what pages your website requires (e.g. Home; Services; About; Contact). For more on this see Map your site layout.

Website functions – State any specific abilities your website should have, such as:

  • Blog
  • Subscribes
  • Downloads
  • Shop
  • Bookings
  • Event registrations
  • Donations
  • Courses
  • Member area

Website features – Provide detail of features your website should include.

Other deliverables – Anything else required to complete the project, such as logo design, custom emails (e.g., and content (i.e. text and images).

Additional points for this section include:

Delivery date – This is best established in negotiation with your developer, however, let us know if you have a definite deadline.

Budget – Also best established in negotiation with your developer (in part because we need your website brief to provide an accurate quote). However, if you like you can state your budget range or absolute maximum here.

If your budget is limited some developers may decline to quote, however, it’s best to get this in the open now to avoid wasting anyone’s time, including your own.

Contacts – Provide contact details for organisation members working on your project. Ideally nominate one person to liaise with your developer on behalf of your website development team.

Organisation introduction

In this section introduce the business, nonprofit or other entity this website is for.

Tell us what the organisation does and help us understand anything that makes it unique, such as outstanding customer service or strong ethical and environmental values.

Here are some points you could include in this section:

  • Company name
  • Website address if available (e.g. – See domain name (below)
  • A brief organisation overview
  • Vision and mission statements
  • Tagline (what the organisation does in a few words, for example, Trailhead Studio’s tagline is Website, Content And Print Solutions For Everyone)
  • Main products/services/campaigns
  • Short and long term goals
  • Points of difference from your competitors
  • Plans for future growth (that your website may need to accommodate)

Current website review

Before jumping into the new see what you can learn from your current website (if applicable), such as:

  • Website analytics (e.g. load speed; # monthly visits; bounce rate; visitor locations and devices)
  • Things you like about your current site and want to retain
  • Things you dislike about your current site want to discard
  • Whether you feel your current site positively reflects your brand
  • Specific problems with your current site that need to be solved

Website goals

This is an important point worthy of some thought. Tell us what you want to achieve through your website.

Following are some common business and nonprofit website goals:

  • Generate leads/enquiries
  • Take bookings and event registrations
  • Make sales
  • Gain subscriptions
  • Build an email list
  • Recruit staff/volunteers
  • Receive donations
  • Raise brand awareness
  • Inform and educate
  • Build a community
  • Establish authority as an expert on relevant subjects
  • Move into new markets

Although website are capable of achieving multiple goals, for reasons of clarity it’s important not to have too many competing calls to action on a page. So also tell us which goal or goals you most want to draw attention to, especially on the home page.

Website audience

Next, tell us who your website is for.

This is a crucial point to remember: Your website is for your website audience. Although it may be your baby it’s not for you and it’s certainly not for your manager or board of directors.

Your website audience are the people you want to take the actions identified in your website goals i.e. your customers, subscribers, volunteers and donors.

Aim to identify distinct groups, such as IT professionals under thirty or expectant parents.

Tell us each group’s demographics (e.g. age; gender; education; profession) and something about what makes them tick, such as their likes and dislikes, their needs and wants, their values and frailties.

One approach for achieving this is to research your current audience, with a focus on the action takers.

However, don’t ignore the information seekers amongst your audience, as with the right approach to website design and website content, today’s information seekers are tomorrow’s action takers.

If you’re starting a new organisation you may have already identified your audience in your business plan. If you haven’t this is a good time to do it.

A thorough understanding of who you are communicating with is crucial for making your messages effective, whether communicating them through a website or any other channel.

And by effective we mean capable of convincing and enabling people to take action.

Convincing and enabling your audience to take your website goal actions should be the deciding factor behind all your website design and development decisions.

Competitor website review

Next, provide links to a few of your competitor websites and tell us what you like and dislike about them (their websites of course, not the people!).

Look for things like:

  • The power and clarity of their messages
  • Their design (e.g. fonts; colours; pictures; graphics)
  • The path visitors take from landing on the site to taking action
  • Their use of offers and lead magnets (e.g. a useful ebook in return for subscribing)

Try to see competitor websites through your audience’s eyes. As an audience member, do these websites answer your questions and solve your problems? How can your website do things better?

Design preferences

Tell us about how you imagine your website will look and feel.

When making design decisions always remember that it’s not important that you like the look and feel of your website; it’s only important that your audience likes the look and feel of your website.

Consider including the following:

  • Tone or image you want to portray (e.g. professional; fun; authentic)
  • Organisation branding (if available) – Provide style guide/examples and state whether we should match
  • Colour and font preferences
  • Websites with designs you like/dislike and why (provide a few examples)

Website content

Website content is material displayed on a website for visitor consumption (e.g. text; pictures; infographics; videos).

When it comes to convincing and enabling audiences to take action website content is as important as website design. So, same as design, website content should have satisfying audience preferences, needs and wants as its primary objective.

Tell us your website content plans, such as:

  • What new content needs to be created?
  • Who will provide your website content?
  • What content will you reuse from your current website?

If reusing current content you are strongly recommended to complete a content audit (unless you have previously invested time and effort into crafting well-written text and choosing optimum images and graphics).

In addition to poor technicals (next) and outdated design, the quality of your current content could be what’s holding your current website back. So reusing it could greatly blunt the power of your new site.

Get Content That Converts

Turn passive audiences into action takers with Trailhead Studio content solutions for your online and print communications.

Technical considerations

Finally, think about the technical aspects of running your website. Tell us what you can about the following:

Domain name – Your preferred domain name (e.g. and whether you would like us to register it for you.

For free advise on choosing a domain name, including deciding your TLD (e.g. .com;; .au; .org), contact Dave at Trailhead Studio.

Website hosting – Your website host is where your website lives. Hosting will play a crucial role in you new website’s success.

Cheap hosting can be slow to load (kills your SEO), vulnerable to hacks (expensive to fix) and prone to downtime (inconveniences your audience).

Investing a little extra in decent hosting soon pays dividends by helping achieve search engine results unobtainable to slow loading sites, and by building audience satisfaction and trust unachievable with unreliable hosts.

Trailhead Studio’s hosting is fast, secure and reliable. It’s also fully managed meaning we take care of all the technical stuff for you.

Website maintenance – Same as cars, websites need regular maintenance to run effectively.

Failing to maintain your website will make it vulnerable to hacks, slow to load and incapable of utilising the latest features. So now is a good time to think about how you will maintain your new website and find out what your developer can do to help.

Fast Hosting & Affordable Maintenance

Give your website a safe home and keep it in perfect condition with Trailhead Studio’s managed hosting and monthly maintenance plans.

Website brief conclusion

You now have everything you need to write the perfect website brief. As you work through remember to base all your decisions on satisfying audience preferences, needs and wants, and on convincing and enabling people to take your website actions. Once your brief is ready you can send it out to website designers and developers to request quotes. Happy developing!

Get in touch for an obligation free chat about your website project