How to Write A Drupal Design Brief

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A design brief, sometimes know as the *creative brief* is a relatively short, high-level document that clearly outlines the important elements of the web design project—whether its a full Drupal theme development project or an ROS banner campaign each design project needs this foundation document.

## Definition
A general definition of the design brief can be summarized as:

> A document that outlines the strategic direction for creative development, covering the specific task at hand, the communication objectives and strategy, and any elements that the executions must contain.

## What to Include
The following fields are from our design brief submission form, you can fill out our form (no obligation of course) and use it as a blueprint for developing your own design brief.

* Project name
* Company name
* Key contact and contact details
* Budget estimate
* Deadline or time frame
* An overview of the current situation
* Branding - how you want to be perceived or the emotional response you want to invoke
* The intended target audience
* The design details, such as the scope (homepage redesign or full website theme etc)
* Resources, such as an existing logo design or other branding material

The fields outlined above describe the standard fields you will find in our Design Brief submission form. Once we receive your brief we will contact you to develop the brief into a more detailed document with a sharp focus on Drupal design requirements. This second phase of the process helps clarify each design *problem* and allows the design team to propose initial ideas and concepts and start working towards design solutions.

## Design for Drupal and Save
You can save costs by designing *for* Drupal and waste a lot designing against it. Unfortunately we see a lot of the latter in our line of work, where designers and themers with no real knowledge of Drupal end up reinventing the wheel to achieve something otherwise quite trivial, mainly because they don't understand *how* to design for Drupal or even how Drupal themes work.

When you engage a design team be sure to ask if they have worked with Drupal on previous projects. Thankfully we've done plenty of that already.

## Fields with Descriptions
Lets go over the main fields and pad them out with brief description. You can use this as a general guide for filling our our design brief submission form.

### Budget estimate
This can be tricky if you don't know how much design and theme building costs. In short, if you have a budget we encourage you to include it, otherwise this can be worked out later.

### Deadline or Time frame
If you have a hard deadline you definitely need to let the design team know this. Deadlines and time frames allow the design team to prioritize work and expedite your project should the deadline demand it.

### An overview of the current situation
Where you are at right now. Perhaps this is a new venture or you want to re-design an existing site. You might have research data that shows your current branding is not achieving your goals and need a re-design to bring them into line.

### Branding
This is how you want to be perceived or the emotional response you want to invoke when customers view your website. For example if you are soliciting donations for an animal shelter you may want to invoke empathy for the homeless cats and dogs.

### Target Audience
Often this gets filled in with stuff like "anyone who is looking", or "all animal lovers", however we like to go deeper than this and we encourage you to think deeply about the type of people you want to appeal to. Who are these people when they are not looking at your website? Perhaps you know that most donations come from elderly females who own cats?

### The Design Details
This is where we get down to the nitty gritty and define the scope of the project and the implied outcomes. For example you may just be looking to re-design your homepage for a special promotion targeting elderly females who own cats who have some spare cash to donate. As part of this you want three new banners for the homepage featuring old ladies with cats and fat wallets that need alleviating.

### Resources
Many clients have existing PSD files and other design material and only need to "webify" it for their websites. If you have these files or other material such as PDF marking brochures its good to include them so we get a better overview of the current design approach.

## Conclusion
If we could sum up the main points about writing the design brief it has to be:
1. Focus on what needs to be achieved, rather than the *how*.
2. Set a deadline for it.
3. Set you budget.
4. Fill out your design brief form and get the ball rolling—its no obligation and you can print this anytime for your own use.

Last updated 13th May, 2010 - 5:41am

Authored by Leonardo on