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How to create a website brief in 60 minutes (including shortcuts to get an estimate quickly)

  • Start with something
  • Where is the organisation going?
  • Who are your key competitors
  • Reference websites
  • Getting an estimate quickly
  • If your budget is limited

A surprising number of customers that come to us are relatively uninitiated about what information they need to provide us with, so we can better understand what they should be doing. But even more so, there is the bigger question mark of what could be the likely cost of the work needing to be done.

My day to day consists of talking to customers about their company, where it is going, and how we can use digital to get the results they need. A little bit of preparedness makes my life a whole lot easier and sets up your digital projects up in the right direction.

While I don’t recommend that our customers only spend 60 minutes putting together a brief. This is a good start which can move forward the conversation to a point where we are on the same page quickly.

You don’t want to waste time speaking to someone who inevitably doesn’t understand you and isn’t capable of delivering a result in your price range.

 

Start with something

A little information can go a long way to helping us provide you with a quick estimate. It also helps you make sure that you are selecting an agency that fits in your pricing level.

There are three pieces of information that can provide a shortcut to getting an estimate quickly

  1. Where is your organisation going, how is this project helping the bigger picture?
  2. Who are your key competitors, where do you see yourself against them?
  3. What are examples of sites you like or have a similar complexity to what you are trying to achieve?

This does not constitute a full brief, but it gives someone like me the ability to get a sense of the likely solution you are going to need.

 

1. Your organisation

Understanding your organisation is critical to framing the project. I am most interested in whether you are achieving a strategic or an operational solution.

Examples:

Strategic
  • Currently, a leader in the industry, want to push further ahead.
  • Wanting to challenge the industry leader, using digital as a way to stand out.
  • The organisation is looking to take digital more seriously. The website is the first thing to get started.
  • The organisation is rebranding, need a new website to fit the brand.
  • The organisation is looking to build a single view of the customer.
Operational
  • The current platform is decaying and in need of a reliable platform.
  • The website is not mobile responsive.
  • Need to consolidate different digital resources into the one platform
  • The organisation is looking to rebuild a poorly constructed solution.

Whether the project is strategic or operational influences the nature of the recommendations that we would make. A project achieving strategic notes may have a different approach to one that is just fixing an operational pain point. Generally, organisations will need to invest more if the project is of a more strategic nature.

For example, we work with some companies where digital is something they need to do, but it’s not a major money maker. It is not critically strategic, but they are a large company and a brand to protect. So in this case, they need a good site – but it doesn’t need to be anything special.

What we need to know

  • A simple overview of your business direction and how digital plays into the organisation’s strategy (or operational demands)

 

2. Key Competitors

Understanding your competitors helps us determine the digital sophistication of your industry, and will help us extrapolate the strength of the solution that is required for your industry. You may be in a green field or a highly competitive industry.

The more sophisticated your competitors are, the more sophisticated you need to be. For example, if your key competitors are Suncorp and Bank of Queensland then being competitive in digital is a significantly larger consideration than if you were a niche B2B equipment manufacturer.

Most companies will know who their competitors are, but it’s seriously worth finding them through Google and taking a customer-centric view of how they are perceived through their website.

We don’t need a list of all of your competitors (especially if there are dozens), just the ones that are noteworthy.

What we need to know

  • A simple list of competitors
  • A basic commentary on their comparative position. Are they the leader, innovator, laggard?
  • How do you compare to your competitors? (now, and in the future)

 

3. Reference Websites

Lamb Agency is capable of producing some very high-quality work. But high-quality work mandates a higher budget. Providing us with a reference gives us an idea of what your expectation of quality is. This is not universally agreed upon and varies drastically on the individual and company.

You may provide us with a style which is relatively well established and can be done with a tighter budget. Or you may present a high-concept website which requires a heavy amount of custom work to be done.

For us, some web design styles can be a lot more expensive to execute than others.

Examples

https://www.checkout.com/
“Checkout” is a really nice looking website. It is a tweak on the standard structure, but nothing crazy.
http://portion.io/
“Portion” is a single page website, pretty simple? Not really. It is incredibly ornate, with a lot of custom animations and bespoke elements. Lots of time would have been spent on design strategy and execution. The homepage development for “Checkout” and “Portion” would be different by many multiples.

 

Getting a budget quickly

If you have the information above, you should be able to get a very quick ballpark estimate.

This information is something you could provide through an online enquiry or initial email. You should be able to query a pricing estimate to get a sense of whether the company is going to work well for you or not.

This, of course, is going to be an estimate, possibly a ranged estimate, rather than a fixed quote. There will be all kinds of stipulations about keeping that number. But from a budgeting perspective, if someone estimates the website could be $20,000-$30,000 that is something that budgets can be built around.

 

If your budget is limited

If digital isn’t strategic for your organisation or if you have a tight budget to work with, it can be worth considering early on what the essentials are. Talk to your agency about automatic inclusions in their projects, and what may not be necessary at this point in time.

Ways you could save money would be to reduce the amount of design used within the website. You don’t need to design every-single-element on your website.

Example
Future Makers is a website we built for the Queensland Museum. The program was a collaboration between the Museum and industry. It just needed to be a simple online reference with a few key details. For the solution, the homepage has been designed, and the inner pages were kept as simple as possible. Still, it looks like a nice clean basic website.

One of the largest optional inclusions in digital projects is a custom website design. If this isn’t critical, then a template solution could be a way of saving on budget.

 

Bottom line

Putting together a complete brief is not something to be rushed. But having a good quick reference for your agency is a good starting point to kick things off in the right direction and will allow you to get a budget indication and get more pointed questions about what they need to give you a good quote.

Coming to an agency with a bit of information about your organisation, your competitors and a few references is a quick and effective way of starting.

Want to know more?
If you would like to talk to us about this article, a new project you have and how we can make digital work for you, get in touch on [email protected]  or check us out at http://www.lamb.com.au

 

About Lamb Agency

Lamb Agency is an industry-leading provider of digital solutions. We have worked with very large like Lite n Easy, NTI, National Storage, and All Trades Queensland. We pride ourselves on our unshakable commitment to delivery, 100% in our 4-year history.