Project Briefs: Clients vs. Designers

Creatives typically understand that a well-written project brief is key to a smooth and productive design process. It not only serves as a great way for the client to organize their thoughts, but also establishes a clear understanding of expectations for you as the designer.

While you get their importance, the client you’re working with might not. Thus, they often do not include details that are crucial for the best possible outcome of their project. Whether you’re working with a brief generated from our platform (we require a form to be filled out by the client for any project done through ConceptDrop) or freelancing for your personal clients, we’ve compiled a list of necessary – but often left out – details to include in your next project brief.

Background on the Company

At first thought, the client might want to jump straight to details of their project. Instead, it’s important to know information about the company you’re producing content for. Details like what they sell or offer, core values of the company, and targeting audiences are important for you to do your job.

As the designer, you can use information like this to think critically and carefully when creating your client’s product. You understand which techniques and styles work best with different industries and audiences. The final product should undeniably reflect your company as a whole, and you can accomplish this much better by understanding the company.

It’s best to hear it from the client themselves, but if they don’t include sufficient information here, do your research.

Describing the Desired Style

The client is not expected to be the creative individual in the relationship, but it is helpful when he or she can articulate their desired style for the project, at least to some extent. If they are struggling with this, ask questions that are “this or that” framed. “Is your company aiming for a more modern or traditional feel?” “Do you want the project to look playful or professional?” While these sound vague, it will force them to think about what they want and helpful details might be revealed in their responses.

Colors also obviously play a factor in these stylistic choices. Ask your client if he or she would prefer bright and colorful or more neutral tones in their design. Do you need to stick to specific branding colors? These are details the client might not think to include from the get-go without being asked. Feel free to direct them to this article on The Psychology of Color, for Designers if they’re unsure of what they want.

Major Do’s and Do Not’s

To minimize the amount of revisions needed, ask for requirements at the very start of the project. If a partnership logo needs to be on the one-pager you’re designing, it’s much easier to find the perfect place for it at the start (non-creatives don’t usually get you can’t just slap a logo on last minute). Are there colors you aren’t supposed to use? It’s helpful to know that ahead of time so you don’t show the client a draft with that forbidden color all over it.

Clients might not take the time to include as much (relevant) information as you need in the client brief. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her to elaborate on their company’s target audience a little more or for a copy of their style guide. They may be more willing to schedule a 15-20 minute Google Hangout call for you to get the information you need to do your job. After all, wouldn’t they want a final product that perfectly reflects their company’s brand and needs? Preferably without rounds and rounds of revisions.

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