How to Write a Flawless UX/UI Design Brief

How to Write a Flawless UX/UI Design Brief from UIGarage
Melanie Sovann

Updated on August 14, 2020

This post is written for design buyers, marketers, and business owners who often work with UX design companies.

To get the most accurate quote for your project – and get an idea of how good a web design agency is – you need to write a good UX design brief.

Put simply, it’s a document that describes your design project. Companies send it to contactors to get feedback and project estimations.

If the UX design brief has the wrong kind of information, the agencies won’t be able to provide answers. So, a lot of time and effort will be wasted.

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • potential consequences of poor UX design briefs
  • how to write a clear brief for design agencies.

Let’s start with why writing a design brief is so important to the success of your projects.

Why Writing a Clear Brief is Crucial

Any UX designer will tell you that a bad design brief is their worst enemy. It’s really hard for them to create a design for someone they’ve never met before, and a lack of clarity makes it even harder.

It’s like you were a realtor who was told to find “a good house for a family.”

You’d instantly have tons of questions, like:

  • How many people are in the family?
  • Do they prefer living in the suburbs or in a city?
  • How many bedrooms do they need?

The list can go on and on, and this is exactly what designers feel when they get a bad design brief. Unfortunately, it’s something that many designers receive regularly because many non-designers – business owners, entrepreneurs, etc. – are tasked with writing them.

The results? Bad relationships between clients and design agencies, hours of additional clarifications, lots of unnecessary stress, and, possibly, redesigns.

So, a bad design brief doesn’t really work for anyone.

That’s why CEOs, marketing directors, marketing executives, growth team leaders, small business owners, and entrepreneurs have to learn how to write it well.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to do next.

How to Write a Flawless UX/UI Design Brief

To help understand how to write a very clear and effective UX/UI brief, we’re going to review each major part one by one.

So, a typical brief has these parts (in no particular order):

  • Company overview
  • Project goals
  • Target audience and their pain points
  • Key project deliverables
  • Project scope
  • Creative direction
  • Budget and Schedule.

Now, here’s how to write each part the right way.

1. Company Overview Section

You did your research of design agencies before contacting the selected ones, right? You wanted to know about their experience and expertise to be sure if they can deliver.

For a design agency, it’s also important to know who you are. In fact, it’s essential for them to have a good understanding of your needs to deliver good web design.

To help them, write the following:

  • Your company’s main goals at the moment
  • The mission, vision, and key values
  • What makes you unique and known in the market.

2. Project Goals Section

The next step is to write a description of the work that needs to be done. You can start with the goals and objectives of the project at hand.

They will be useful for the designers if they answer these questions:

  • What do you want to accomplish with this project?
  • Is this something that will be made from scratch, or is it a rework?
  • What is your vision of success?

Keep in mind that goals are related to the overall purpose of the project, while an objective is a specific success measure.

For example, “design a new landing page,” is a goal but “increase the conversion rate of the new landing page by 7 percent in two months” is an objective.

Important! Many design briefs have major problems with this section because their writers often limit it to generic statements like “create a responsive website.” 

“Being specific as possible is very important in this section,” says Sam Piette, a UX researcher. “Never disregard having a writer from sites like BestWritingAdvisor take a look at your brief, he or she will save a lot of headache for those reading it.”

3. Target Audience and Their Pain Points Section

Who are the people who will be using this digital product?

This is the question to answer in this part.

Describe the ideal user of the design and the reason why he or she might want to do so in the first place. The reason for that might be a problem.

Here’s an example:

Project: a keyword research tool

Audience: digital marketers

Pain points:

  • finding keywords for their content and ads to outperform competitors on Google
  • knowing which keywords attract most searches
  • discovering keywords their competitors use to get in Google’s top 10.

Also, it goes without saying that keyword research should be as easy to do, even for a beginner user.

These details already give designers a good idea of how to approach the project.

4. Key Project Deliverables Section

Having clearly defined project deliverables is important for agencies to understand the order in which you want the project to be delivered.

The list of deliverables guides the entire project and ensures that everybody is working on the right things.

For example, an initial stage of a website design project might involve these deliverables:

  • User personas
  • User journey maps
  • User flows
  • Positioning maps
  • Calls to action.

Each deliverable requires spending hours researching and reviewing UI best practices for inspiration. To design a meaningful use flow like the one below, the designers need to plan accordingly, so agreeing on the dates for deliverables is a must.

How to Write a Flawless UX/UI Design Brief from UIGarage

Source: User Flow for Sketch – Graphite

If you feel like you need help with defining specific deliverables, always consult with someone with a good knowledge of UI design.

They will help you to turn your goals into something specific that designers understand.

5. Project Scope Section

Here, you describe the features of the design you’d like to develop.

An app development project, for example, might have this scope:

  • The list of technical solutions: an Android app
  • The list of the desired app features: home, settings, user profile, and contact pages, ability to make in-app purchases, etc.
  • The support: indicate how many months of maintenance and support you’ll need
  • The deadlines for each scope points.

A lack of project scope might result in the agency developing additional features you didn’t need (but still have to pay for).

So, by stating your expectations clearly, you save your budget and prevent unnecessary work.

6. Creative Direction Section

In this part, you describe your design and style preferences. If there is some design or a style that you really like and want to try, definitely mention it here.

For example, add the link to an online resource you liked and describe what you like about it. The designer will take a look and propose some ways to incorporate your preferences into the future design.

Don’t feel like you need to write something super sophisticated. A brief is a place for you to help the agency create a design you like. So, even comments like “I like the combination of blue and white colors” would be helpful.

Important! Don’t have any specific design preferences? No worries. Let the designer know that you’re open to suggestions.

If not sure where to find your own, find an online collection with UI inspiration designs. UI Garage would be a good start.

It hosts a large collection of designs for you to see. So, you can choose something you like, save it, and share it in the brief later.

You can start here:

7. Budget and Schedule Section

This section might not be as exciting as the previous ones, but it’s important.

First, let the agencies know how much you want to spend on the project. It should be there for them to manage their expectations and effectively allocate the money across all stages (research, design, testing, review, etc.)

A lack of a clearly defined budget is a major risk for both the agency and you. In this case, it’s very easy to lose track of billable hours and exceed the budget.

Next, the schedule.

Your project needs to stay within specific timeframes to make sense for your business. It should be detailed (each stage needs to have a deadline) and realistic.

Pro tip: always leave some room for unexpected problems and changes. It might be tempting to squeeze the project in a tight timeframe, but doing so might turn into a disaster in the long-term.

Okay, Is There Anything Else?

You’ve made it that far, nice job! Kudos to you for learning so much about how to write a flawless UX/UI design brief. The knowledge you just got will be useful to make your next design project a success.

For many people, especially those without a lot of experience in web design, doing a design brief is intimidating. But, as you can see, it’s not just something nice to have, but a must to get a design that you want.

About Melanie Sovann
How to Write a Flawless UX/UI Design Brief from UIGarage
Melanie Sovann is a UX writer and blogger. She has five years of experience writing blog articles, online research papers, and UX copy for apps and SaaS products. Melanie likes to help startups and small businesses with improving their content strategies and making SEO a source of revenue.