What is a Client Brief?

A client brief is a comprehensive, detailed brief becomes the guiding document for the entire design process, and spells out exactly what you, as the designer, need to do, and the constraints within which you need to do it.

The client brief is the first and primary means of communication between what the clients had told you, when dealing with the project, so it is important you get it right in this stage of the process. The more information you can gather from the client, the more accurate and informative the website will be to your client’s liking.

Understanding what your client is exactly looking for is one of the most difficult tasks for a designer. You just can’t just read their mind and see exactly what they want. That’s why you have to ask some of these important questions to understand what they are wanting. These are some questions that we will cover in this discussing…

  • Can you describe to me your Business?
  • What are you looking for in a new site?
  • How much are you looking to spend on this project?
  • What are the features that you want on your website?
  • Do you have a style for your company?

Gathering the Client Information

When it comes to gathering the information for the briefs, the biggest difference between briefs that work and other that don’t, are whether they contain all of the necessary information you’ll need for a project. Briefs don’t have to be pretty, but they have to be informative.

Now that you have an idea of what a client brief is, it’s time to decide whether you should gather this information through a formal questionnaire, or simply provide your clients with a guiding document that tells them how to put together a brief.

A formal questionnaire can be useful for clients who are new to working with professional designers. A well-designed questionnaire gets your client thinking, and gets to the root of what they want from their new website. Then again, a less formal document that simply guides your client to create a design brief that includes all the pertinent information. If most of your clients have already worked with professional designers, this can be a better way to get information. Letting your client say what they want to say can lead them to revealing information they might not reveal in a formal questionnaire.

Andate Publishing brief vs. Glitschka Studios brief

The first brief, from Andate Publishing, while it contains a good deal of useful information, lacks just as much. The team knows what the overall project is, who the audience is and what their strengths are. But what they don’t know is who the contact person is, what the budget or deadlines are and what the tone should be. Now take a look at the brief from Glitschka Studios. They ask many of the same questions about scope of project and audience. But they also want to know their color preferences and tone, where the materials will be printed and how to measure success of the project.

PR Guys Online brief vs. TOMS Shoes brief

The first brief, from PR Guy Online is much too brief (no pun intended). The team knows the contact info and the project scope, but what about budget, deadlines and competition. While they may think they’ll add that all under project scope or background, they may forget to ask once they’re interviewing the client. It’s better to have it all spelled out. Now take a look at the brief from TOMS Shoes. This is a super-thorough brief. The designer knows what the project objective is, tone, message, why buyers should believe in TOMS and what buyers believe in. They’ve included theme, a brand character and space for project approvals.

Laughing Man Media brief vs. Krista Kennedy brief

Again, we have too little information gleaned from the first brief from Laughing Guy Media. The designer knows the basic project objective but even that’s vague. They know the audience and project concept but have no idea about tone or deadline. Who’s their competition and what are they currently using for marketing? Now jump over to the brief for Krista Kennedy. It’s clean and concise. Scope of project, contact info, problem to solve, audience, sizes of materials needed and deadlines for all pieces are included.

Client Brief Questions

Who are you and What does Your Company do?

You’re trying to get a really thorough understanding as to who they are, what they do, how long they’ve been around & etc. One way, to understand more about their business is by telling the client to describe their business as if they just met you at a party and not at a conference trying to sell to you.

Remodeling or creating a website for the company?

Depending on the answer they give you, you may want to ask some follow up questions. Something along the lines, when did you get it? Is the site giving you the results you wanted? and etc.

What is your primary goal for the website?

Is this a important question to ask your client right away. If your client doesn’t know what they want their site to accomplish, then suggest a few ideas so you can start the project with a key understanding locked in place. If your client still doesn’t have an idea, then you need to walk away completely from the project, it will make you rip your hair out if you continue with the job.

What makes your company unique?

Your client’s customers are going to ask the same question, what makes your company better then someone else. Some examples that you can ask your client is do they have fast or free delivery, being the exclusive supplier of a product in a certain area, offers unique add-on packages no one else can or etc.

What previous designs and marketing material do they have?

This is something to get an understanding of your client. Ask them for any logos, brochures, posters, web banners, and even style tiles. Half the times your client won’t give you any of these materials. You don’t want to create something and then find out the client’s color scheme is completely different.

Who’s your target audience and market?

Have your client describe their usual customers. If your clients aren’t sure who they want to reach with their site, ask who their ideal customers would be. Ask them, “If you could roll all your customers into one super-customer…what would he/she be like?” It gives your client a chance to explain the business in a casual way.

Who’s your competitors?

Your client will know who their main competitors are, but you want them to think a little outside of the box. Don’t just look at their direct competitors, but their less obvious competitors as well.

What features do you want on your site?

Clients will often want to get a new website after seeing stuff on different sites. Whatever your client wants done, make sure they find out what it is now so they don’t come back to you later with a sad face because it’s not what they wanted. Some of these features are often asked by the clients. Social media links, mobile site, blogs, quick contact forms, shopping cart, and etc.

How will you measure your success?

Are they looking to grow their mailing list, get more clients, gain awareness, sell more of their product or change their image? If your client’s site, delivers the results they’re expecting to see, and you can prove it with solid numbers, you’ll be more likely to get the client to recommend you to others for other designs.

What’s the budget and time schedule?

The Budget can be a touchy subject for some clients because they’re expecting you to overcharge or charge the max amount for designing the site. The budget gives you guidelines in which to design, so you don’t spend 20 hours designing a piece that they budgeted enough for 10. Make sure tell the client to give you a decision on when they want the site up and running and giving you a timeframe.


You want everything down on Paper for two key reasons!

  • You want something to refer back to, while talking to the client and don’t want them to have to repeat themself.
  • To prevent any disagreements so, if the client makes an error and believes that you agreed to or discussed something when it was never brought up, you have something to refer back to your client.

Examples of Client Briefs

Below are examples of websites that will give you more in–depth questions about client briefs, websites that show you what some companies ask their clients and some examples of the well done briefs and a not so good ones.

What you like and don’t like?

When asking the client what they like about specific websites, you need to ask them what they don’t like as well. It gives you a chance to see what they like the fonts, layouts, color scheme and etc. Also, you want to see some of the websites that they don’t like, what color schemes, layout, images that they do not like. Below, I’ve went and done a like and don’t like example as if I was the client.


elements on the website
Want a responsive website thats able to be viewed on all devices, from the iphone to the desktop.
Easy to understand navigation
Able to link to social media
Able to join our mailing list
Want good visual images


elements on the website
Websites that don’t give you any contact information; like their email, fax or telephone number.
Webpage takes forever to load
Complex navigation
Website is too cluttered
Features that don’t work