Planning Considerations & The Creative Brief

Written by Brian Ledebur

Good design (design that is visually pleasing, well organized, and usable) is key to a successful Website, but it’s only half the story. Our design needs to be in a context, and convey an appropriate look, feel, and mood for the job at hand. This context is based on the client, through their needs, goals, desires, and company “personality”, as well as the client’s target market, and their goals, needs, desires and demographics.

But how do we get this information? As designers (and therefore marketing people), are we supposed to know this (or guess if we don’t)? Not at all. In the professional world, a project manager or salesperson will provide that information for us, through information gathered from meeting with the client and asking appropriate questions, as well as engaging in research when more information is needed.

Generally this information is given to us in the form of a Creative Brief . For our class, we don’t have any real clients at our disposal (or project managers to ask them anything, anyway). So I will provide this Creative Brief for you. Let’s take a look at what makes up a typical Creative Brief, along with explanations of each topic:

Creative Brief

Part 1: Company Overview and General Information

The purpose of this section is to gain a broader and deeper understanding of your business. This will allow us to devise more effective strategies for your Web site, as well as those tailored specifically to your business needs.

  1. Company Description: Please provide us with a basic overview of your company.
  2. Company Differentiation: What principles and characteristics regarding your company and the products and services you provide do you feel differentiates you from your competitors? If you were persuading a potential customer to purchase from you instead of a competitor, what reasons would you provide?

Part 2: Company and Web Site Goals

The purpose of this section is to determine what your specific needs and goals are for your Web site. This will maximize our ability to provide complete, effective solutions to these needs and goals.

  1. Current Status: What factors led you to want a Web site or Web site redesign? In what ways is your current Web presence lacking, in terms of how it is meeting your needs?
  2. Goals: What are your primary goals for your site? What do you wish to achieve? What other key points of emphasis do you wish to include and/or feature on your site?
  3. Message: What is the primary message you wish to convey to visitors regarding your company and the products and services you provide? (This may or may not be closely related to your company’s image or personality.)

Part 3: User Characteristics and Goals

The purpose of this section is to gain a better understanding of your target audience. This will help us devise solutions tailored specifically in a way that will be effective and appealing to them.

  1. User Characteristics: Who are your products and services targeted toward, in terms of the following?
  2. Demographics: Age, Gender, Geographic Location, Ethnicity
  3. User Goals: In a broad sense, what would you like your users to accomplish on your site? What activities do you envision your users performing most commonly? (Learning more about the company? Gathering information? Buying Products and/or Services? Communicating with your Company or other Users?)

Part 4: Existing Marketing Materials

The purpose of this section is to ensure our solutions stay within the confines of your existing marketing and corporate identity materials, if any.

  1. Collateral: Do you currently have a logo, business card, letterhead, or any other existing collateral that we must adhere to when designing your site? Do you have your logo in vector (non-rendered EPS or AI) format? Do you have a reversed (light on dark) version of your logo, or would you be averse to using a reversed logo on your site?
  2. Marketing: Are you currently employing any existing marketing efforts, such as brochures, advertisements, etc., that your site must remain consistent with in terms of message or appearance?
  3. Standards: Does your company currently employ standards for typefaces, colors, or any other graphic elements that your site must remain consistent with?
  4. Consistency: Of the items listed above, how important is it that the layout and presentation of your site strictly adhere to these requirements?

Part 5: Search Engine Optimization

The purpose of this section is to determine the necessity for search engine optimization for your site. Search engine optimization places certain restrictions on key elements of your site, and this will ensure that our solutions are tailored to be search engine friendly.

  1. Importance: How important is it to your business that users have the ability to find your site on popular search engines?
  2. Relevancy: For what types of searches do you wish users be able to find your site? (When searching for and purchasing products? When searching for relevant information? When searching for relevant companies? When searching for your company specifically?)
  3. Compromise: Are you willing to sacrifice layout, presentation, and/or design of your site to achieve these search engine goals? Are you comfortable with using copy written specifically for search engines?

Additional Information
Are there any other features or requirements regarding your site that we should consider that haven’t been covered with the above questions?

  1. Are you open to the use and purchase of stock photography?  If so, are there budget constraints?
  2. List any example sites you would like us to consider.