Choose and work with a designer

Write an effective design brief


The designer's job is to come up with specific, workable solutions for you. The more information you give them, the better the result they'll produce. This is where a design brief comes in.

What is a design brief?

A design brief is a concise, written document that outlines all of the main considerations for your project. It is a critical part of the design process, as it sets clear expectations and goals for everyone involved.

Creating a design brief will give you chance to consider and discuss all the important design issues before you actually commission a designer to start work.

How do you write a design brief?

A brief should be a point of reference at all stages of your design process. It should clarify what you want to achieve, what you expect from the working relationship and if any limitations apply.

Your design brief should include:

  • Company background - a summary of who you are and what do you do. How long have you been in business? Who are your customers or target audience? What is your market? Your competitors? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your strategic objectives?
  • Project background and aims - give a clear description of the project in as much detail as needed. Explain the problem that the design seeks to resolve. Where does the project fit within the business? What services you require? What aims and objectives must the project meet? For example, is it expected to increase sales, market share, brand awareness, etc? Detail any previous work and explain how you will use the finished design.
  • Budget - you may not know the full extent of the project budget at this stage, but you may want to be clear what your position is. For example, if you're looking for quotes, if you have a ballpark figure or are willing to negotiate on price, or if you are looking for proposals that could be delivered against a set budget.
  • Timescale - include in the brief if you have a project plan or milestones in mind, or a deadline you must meet for the delivery of the project.
  • Approval and management - provide details of the internal teams and outline who will be involved in any approval process. Who will be responsible for the project? What stages will require sign off? How long should this take? Describe how you will manage communications and measure outcomes and success, and if this needs to be in accordance with a business plan or business case raised for the project.
  • Design constraints - does the project need to fit with other designs? Does it need to follow any existing style or brand guidelines? Who will own intellectual property rights to the created designs? Are there any specific technical or legal requirements or location constraints?

While a brief should be concise, more information is better than not enough.

Refine the design brief

A good brief will help develop trust and understanding between you and your designer. Your designer may want to review or refine the brief with you to make sure that all considerations are covered and understood. See key things to agree with your designer.

Design brief example

Download an example design brief for a website (PDF, 28K).