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Making money as a web designer

The website brief

Daniel Walter Scott || VIDEO: 2 of 8


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Hey, my name is Dan. In this video we're going to talk about the brief.

Now the brief is the most important part of a web design job. More than any other career, or project, or service, I reckon the brief in web design is the most important. Why? Because quite often the client will come to you with either an unrealistic idea of what they want, or they'll come to you with no idea. They need a website. And it’s only after you start working with it that they start changing their mind, and you end up with this awkward kind of mess where you’ve got no idea from them, what they want, it's a bit vague, you haven't really written it down, right? And as it's going through, there seems things are going, “Oh, I don't like that now,” or they've never even considered these things, and you end up having to go back and redo stuff, and bust the budget out. You either charge them more, and they get all stressed out, or you just absorb the cost, and it becomes a crappy job for you, and the client's happy, but you're not happy. So the brief needs to be really important at the beginning.

Now there are lots of ways to work in terms of a brief; you definitely need a written brief. Now there's lots of things online where you can find a kind of a template for an outline for a brief, go through, find one, and just cut-and-paste all the bits you like out of  it, that you think you'll need to make a good website. What you need to be prepared for, is that the client probably doesn't know. And often you can send it to them beforehand so that they can think about the questions, but quite often I find-- I work at a level where it's not huge companies; I'm dealing often with the director, or M.D, or the small business owner; the one person that runs everything, and often I'll send them the brief so that they kind of read through. If they fill that out, brilliant, quite often though I'll have to go and meet them, sit down with a coffee, and talk through all the questions on how to get out of them what they want. And, it's only through this process that they actually know what they want quite often. Some people are, some people are great, they know exactly what they want, and lots of people though are unsure; they need a website, but they don't really know exactly what they needed to do. 

Now, at the meeting, start talking about the details, which gets you close to the kind of understanding that they want. You start talking about the number of pages, because, sometimes they'll be talking, and you won't get a clear number of pages, and they'll be expecting a 100, and you're thinking 10, but actually write that number down, and say, “This is what I'm thinking. These pages here, A, B, and C, these equal 10 pages.” Then you got some kind of a footing to be on when they start coming back and keep adding different things to it, or adding things to the brief, and you can say, “Look, it's going outside the budget. We're going to have to look at either doing it again later on, or we're going to look at increasing the budget to cover these things,” unless there's some written documentation of the kinds of pages they're going to be doing. 

Do the exact same thing with any features. If they like slide shows, then say it's going to have one slide show, not slide shows, and pro, and they want 400 of them, you're thinking one. So go through all the types of things they want as they're going to have a contact form, as they're going to have videos; who's in charge of the videos? Are the videos going to be produced by you, or they're just going to be hosted by YouTube? All those types of things, try and flash all that out in the brief. And every client's going to be a little different, but you need to start writing these things down.