You’ve finally received approval from your CEO to start building the new eCommerce website your company so desperately needs. After months of discussion and proposals, it’s time to start looking at vendors to build (or rebuild) the new site.
Here at The Playhouse Group, the most common complaint we hear from our clients is that their previous agency “didn’t meet the brief” or “didn’t deliver on expectations”. As a manager, it’s probably something you hear quite often as well. The fact is that the most common reason projects fail, don’t deliver as envisioned, or take longer than expected is because of poor briefs.
The entire purpose of a brief is to give your agency as much information as possible. However, it’s important to give the right information in the right way, so you get the results you want. After a decade in the industry we have honed in on the most important things to consider when writing a good brief.
1. Know your objective
In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a supercomputer revealed that “the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.” The problem is, nobody knew what the question was.
The same concept applies to your brief. If you want a meaningful solution, you need to be clear on the problem you’re trying to solve. Sit down and define your business objectives and what you want to achieve, taking the time to ensure they’re measurable (so you also have benchmarks to judge the success of your project). Some common objectives we see are:
- Offer a better Customer Experience
- To increase ecommerce sales from x to y
- To increase ecommerce conversion rate % from x to y
- To increase average order value from x to y
- Increase Click and Collect orders from x to y
- Grow email subscribers from x to y
2. Get granular
As the person driving this website project and the person with the most valuable insights about your business, it’s important that you outline your expectations. It can be tempting to make excuses like “they are the experts they should know what we want” or “I’m too busy” but doing so is just going to cause delays and frustration in the long run.
What’s more, the more detailed you can be in your brief, the easier it will be to compare proposals from different agencies, letting you make a more informed decision. So, what sort of details should you include in your brief? Ask yourself questions like:
- What support model do I need from my digital agency? E.g. Full service (I do nothing), partial service (I do the day to day and agency does the heavy lifting), self service (I do everything)
- Who is my target audience and what are their personas?
- How much website traffic do I expect?
- How many categories and products will I have?
- How many orders will I have?
- How many breakpoints? e.g. Mobile, Tablet and Desktop
- What features will it have?
- What are the integrations?
- Email Marketing
- What data do I need to be migrated?
- What are my Must-Have’s, Nice-To-Have’s and items that can be deferred to a later phase?
- What is my timeline and budget?
3. Take it in stages
If you expect to have a large or complex website, it’s worth considering breaking your project up into different stages. This is especially the case if you have multiple goals or audiences for your website, and need it to serve a variety of purposes. Generally speaking, the website development process involves eight stages:
- Research and discovery
- User Interface Design
- Website development
- Website integration
- Testing and review
- Content migration
If you’re unsure about what your exact needs are, it’s best to consult with an agency and scope out the project before putting it to tender. This can save you time and money in the long run, and also give you a better understanding of what to expect from your chosen vendor.
4. Know your ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’
As touched on above, once you have established exactly what you want you need be clear on your ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ for your project.
At The Playhouse Group we always walk our clients through a detailed process to ensure that we are clear and our client is clear on their ‘must haves’ and the ‘nice to haves’ and divide them in order of importance.
In our experience, it is rare that a client can achieve all their wants in one project with their allocated budget and timeframes. Which leads us into…
5. Budget and timeframes
If you have an unlimited bank balance and timeframe for completing your project then ignore this section. Otherwise, be 100% clear on your budget and timeline and communicate this. At the very least indicate a ballpark figure and timeframe to your agency. If your agency knows your budget and timeline they are in a far better position to tailor a solution to meet your needs and budget or tell you if it is even possible.
If you think revealing your budget will cause someone to overcharge you then, you don’t trust them and, you shouldn’t be hiring them in the first place! Make sure you have an agency that isn’t afraid to tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear.
Here at The Playhouse Group, we know what goes into creating a website that works and we provide the best solutions for our clients. Have a look at our brief template and get in touch with our team today for advice on your next project.