Outsourcing a Design Project? Here’s How to Write a Design Brief

I’ve been a freelancer throughout my career. The biggest lesson I learned working with clients was the importance of setting expectations from the start.

It helps both parties get on the same page and can prevent misunderstandings down the line. Because of this, you often have initial discovery calls, set up meetings, and draft contracts.

Another way to set expectations is to create a design job. In the early stages of your design project, whether you are working with someone in-house or outsourcing it to an agency or independent contractor is important.

Here is everything you need to know about what to include in a design job and the templates to help you quickly create one.

What is a design assignment?

A design letter is a document that lists the details required to complete a design project, such as: B. Scope of work, schedule and brand guidelines. The brand seeking the job will work with a designer or design agency to develop one.

Think of this assignment as a blueprint: it contains all of the information your designer needs to complete the project and helps align both parties with expectations. Typically, once they know what they’re looking for, the customer (or brand) will fill out most of the sections of the letter.

The assigned designer will then complete it based on discussions with the client. It serves as the basis for creating the project.

When would you use a design job? To the:

  • (Re) design a website
  • A logo (re) design
  • A (re) branding package
  • Creative elements for social media or advertising campaigns
  • Video assets

What to include in your design template

1. An overview of your brand

The first thing you want to outline in your design letter is information about your brand. This will give you a full understanding of your business and help shape the rest of the job.

The following should be included:

  • Your branch
  • Your products and / or services
  • Your USP
  • Your mission and your values
  • Your competitors

In this section you can also list your direct and indirect competitors, depending on the project.

If you already know who you will be working with on this project, list the decision makers for the project and any key stakeholders involved. Outlining the points of contact from the start optimizes the workflow and prevents communication silos.

2. Your project overview

As one of the most important sections in your letter, take the time to figure out what to look for before writing this section.

Not sure where to start? Answer this question: What problems are you trying to solve? This provides context for the intent behind the project and can also help the designer generate new ideas. It’s like going to the doctor. They have to tell where it hurts for them before they can prescribe something for relief.

Let’s say you want to redesign your website. It could be because your users aren’t converting, or they recently switched company and need a website to reflect that change. Knowing the reason for the project is just as important as the project itself.

Next, state your goals. What do you want to achieve with this project? Is that part of something bigger? Are there any roadblocks that could hinder your project?

The more detailed you can get, the better. Your goals could be to improve website conversions, decrease bounce rates, and / or increase traffic. It all depends on the project.

Answering these questions will help align your vision with the designer and create the space in which to address potential problems.

Finally, this section should list your results, such as:

  • Required assets (illustrations, photos, videos, models, wireframes)
  • File formats
  • Dimensions

3. Your branding guidelines

If your design project is not for branding, list your branding guidelines in your design letter. This breaks down the rules your designer must follow and obey for your project. Rules related to your:

  • Color palette
  • Brand voice and tone
  • typography
  • logo

For any design project, you want to make sure that your designer creates something that aligns with your brand identity. When you are in the process of developing your brand identity, you can also provide mood boards to help the designer understand your vision and the direction you are headed.

4. Your target market

Every design project is developed for the end user. In this section, dive into who this user is.

Describe your user personality and how you would like them to interact with that project when the project is complete. If you’ve already done market research, make sure to list the demographics, behavioral habits, values, interests, and online behavior of your target audience.

For example, let’s say you are an affordable brand of shaving cream for men and your current branding and messages are not popular with consumers. After some experimentation, you’ve found that your target market doesn’t see your brand as approachable, inviting, or relatable.

For your design project, you want to revise your branding package to reflect your customers. Knowing more about your target market, your designer can use their knowledge of design principles and studies to create a product that meets your audience’s needs.

5. Your budget and schedule

These are the most important details needed to identify the right partner for your project. You may find a designer who is great but just can’t live up to your timeline expectations.

Similarly, during a discovery call to a design agency, you may find that they are not able to work within your budget.

Setting your budget and schedule can help you sort out people who are not best suited to your project. While schedules can be flexible, it’s important to set an ideal time frame from the start and adjust it later if necessary.

Once you have selected a designer or an agency, you jointly decide on milestones or deadlines during the duration of the project.

A quick design example

Your design brief should be detailed and provide as much context as possible to aid your designer’s understanding.

This short video description contains the key questions you need to answer in order to write an effective short description.

HubSpot Video Creative short template

Having templates in place for any type of design project saves time and can ensure that everyone on your team is performing the same process.

Design short generators

1. The creative short template from HubSpot

If you’re looking for a number of design templates to use for future projects, HubSpot is the place for you.

HubSpot Design short generator

The document contains three creative quick templates designed with different goals in mind:

  • A campaign template When you’re starting an advertising campaign and need to outsource the creative assets.
  • A video template for a video project that includes brainstorming, production and sales.
  • A client template For design and marketing managers working on a design project.

Each template has detailed sections that you can use to map out the key elements of your project and create an effective design description for each situation.

The best part? It’s free.

2. CreateBrief

Createbrief is a good place to start if you’ve never created a design letter before.

CreateBrief Design Letter Generator

The tool is designed like a survey and asks you important questions about your brand to understand what you are looking for and what your needs are.

Once you have answered all of the questions, you will be sent a design description that you can share with others via a custom url. While not very verbose, it can be useful during the initial process of creating your letter.

No registration is required and you can use the tool as soon as you land on the website.

3. Bonsai Design Letter Generator

Bonsai is a freelance management app that freelancers can use to manage their clients. If you are a small business looking to outsource your design work, you can create a design template right on the platform.

Hello Bonsai Design short generator

Once you’ve created it, you can also email it for approval and get read feedback.

What is special about Bonsai is that its templates are usually checked by experts to make sure that everything you need for your project is in place.

To use the template, you will need to enter your email address and sign up for the software.

4. TemplateLab

The TemplateLab has hundreds of free customizable templates that you can browse and download. TemplateLab Design short generator

The website currently has 50 design brief templates ranging from website briefs to interior design briefs. A standout feature on the site is the ability to see exactly what is in the template before downloading it.

Once you’ve downloaded it in Microsoft Word, it’s ready to be customized to suit your needs.

While you can start your design project without a brief description, make sure everyone is on the same page if you work out the details in advance. It’s a short but important step that will save you time (and money) later.

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