Website creative briefs: 5 things to pry about

Last time, I shared tips on preparing your design for your web developer. That’s a very important step—but what about the stuff that happens before that? Long before design ever happens, you’ll need to gather information from your client. If you’re adding web design to your list of offerings (either by doing it yourself or by partnering with a designer/developer like me), it’s important to gain a super-deep understanding of what the client wants and expects. And the best way to do this? Lots of questions that scratch beyond the surface!

Make sure your creative brief is webified by including these 5 questions.

1. Who are your competitors?

Sometimes clients tell me, “I don’t have any because I’m so different.” But the truth is—we all have competitors. Let’s deconstruct. If people are going to buy something from somebody else, and it’s something similar—who will they get it from? As you might know, this can be hard information to acquire. But pinpointing competitors is simply the best way to stand apart. And like I said before, everyone has competitors. So, once we have a few competitors in mind, we can look at their sites and figure out how to provide an even more awesome web experience.

2. What other brands inspire you?

Maybe they’re competitors, maybe they’re not—but we all draw inspiration from certain brands. Certain elements of the brand make us feel connected, excited! It’s our job to help clients pinpoint the root of the inspiration.

3. What does that mean to you?

When we were discussing inspirational brands, a prospect told me, “I love Apple. They’re all about innovation and technology. I want to be like that.” I could take this broad statement to mean a thousand different things. We have to dig. What does innovation mean? Get specific. Keep digging. Be annoying if needed. It will be worth it in the end.

4. What are some concrete examples?

If you’re designing a very specific brochure for a company, it can be hard to find relevant, tangible examples. When it comes to web design, websites are so accessible! There are literally millions of good examples. If you’re doing a site for a gym that targets women, look at the same type of website from other gyms in the area. Compare apples to apples. And not just any apples—but great apples! My favorite places to find kick-ass web design examples: awwwards!

5. What do you hate?

You already know I loathe sliders on the home page. Maybe it’s the color yellow, polka dots, or candy corn, but your client hates something. Whether it’s related to design or functionality, it matters. And it’s better to find out early in the process.

A few online creative brief examples

Simply put, questions lead to conversations that produce killer websites. Every question we ask is a sort of litmus test—so we know what a client is judging our work against. You can start using questions before the creative brief even happens as I do in my contact page questionnaire. I use it to gather information before I ever chat with a prospect. Once we decide to work together, I use this online project questionnaire as the creative brief throughout a website project.

And, remember, you don’t have to do it all alone. (I have partners for everything!) If you’d like to talk about partnering with me to handle your web design/development, give me a shout.

Are you concerned about critical areas that can make or break your creative biz such as contracts, money matters, and qualifying prospects? My Client Onboarding Toolkit is a simple, 4-step digital course that walks you through my time-tested process for onboarding clients. Jam-packed with advice, tools, and templates designed for creative professionals, it’ll save you time, stress and frustration while making you look like the creative rockstar you are. You’ll convert prospects into paying clients with more clarity, sanity, and confidence than ever before. Learn more »

About Jill Anderson

Hi, I’m Jill, a WordPress WordPress designer/developer who partners with talented designers, copywriters, and agencies on their websites, and their client’s sites. I’m passionate about crafting beautiful and innovative WordPress websites focused on clear positioning and positive user experiences. Get my free report, Get Your Website Done: 12 Actionable Steps for Designers, and check out my Client Onboarding Toolkit, a simple 4-step digital course for converting prospects into a paying clients.


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2 thoughts on “Website creative briefs: 5 things to pry about

  1. Great questions for creative briefs. It’s a red flag if they don’t answer the ones where they have to dig deeper. Okay, will try nagging. :-))

    “I have partners for everything” Such as? Do you work with copywriters or write your own blogs, or?

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