The initial web site design brief is the cornerstone to a sound and profitable web site design project. Get it wrong, miss out on the key elements and you could end up at best losing a lot of time and money over the simplest of web site design jobs. At worst you could end up in a dispute with your web site design customer with a few hassles. While most serious web site design companies will draft and present their customer with a proper quote with all the web site design specs and conditions, many feel it is not necessary to have a similar document for smaller web site design projects. This is a mistake because a badly planned small web site design project could end up being a big headache if things get out of control. So getting the initial web site design brief right from the outset is critical.

So what is this initial web site design brief? It is basically what you and your customer agreed to put in the web site design project before you take his or her good money. Very few customers, especially in the discount web site design market, have a well laid out specs sheet of what they require in a web site. More than likely they have an idea, they have seen a few web site designs and they will try their best to explain to you what they want. So far so good and there is nothing wrong with them explaining their web design requirement verbally. The problem comes up when complications arise. If you have a piece of paper or an email that lists the features of the web design, it is easy to go back to it and have a point of reference for future arguments or additional work.

I’d advise every web design company to draft a quote listing the following:
• The aim of the web site being designed. What is the intended purpose of the web site being designed?
• List all the features and functions of the web site as much as you can.
• Describe the visitor’s experience when he or she is on the web site.
• Describe the webmaster’s experience. What functions and info can the webmaster access on the web site? Put down what is required for you to start the web design project, e.g a deposit, the material, photos, texts etc.
• Make it clear how long the web design project will last.
• Put down the cost involved to complete the web design project and the payment terms.
• Do not forget to mention other costs like domain name and hosting.
• Make your term and conditions clear on the quote. No small prints.

I would recommend you draft your own specs based on the customers web design requirement, even if the latter has provided a well documented specs sheet or rfq. By rewriting the brief with the web design requirement you are making sure that you understand every one of the web design features. The devil is in the details. If you have any doubts at this stage, ask the customer. Do not assume anything because once you submit the quote, the customer will assume that you have understood and hold you to it. If there are web design features you feel you cannot deliver, do not hesitate to make this clear to the customer. Although very often you can come to some arrangements, it is preferable to sometimes lose an order than to promise web design features that you cannot deliver.

Most importantly, do not give your customer high expectations if you are not sure about your ability to deliver. It is much better to be conservative about your capabilities while quoting and over achieving than the other way round. Salesmen are generally very good at over selling and promising the sky. Anybody who has worked in bespoke web design production knows that the time spent on a web design project can quickly snowball unless you have a good brief or quote and the project is tightly managed according to the brief.

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