The Importance of a Client Design Brief

In my previous post, I spoke of the Importance of a Client Agreement and Policy. The next thing to do when starting a design project is to have your client fill out a Client Design Brief.

A Client Design Brief lets you know who your client is, what their main goal of the design project is, what design style they like, what functions they want to see on their website (if you are doing one), who their competitors are, and most importantly what they DON’T like.

What to ask in a Client Design Brief

  • What their goal and main objectives are for this project
  • Who is their target audience
  • Who are their competitors
  • 3 Logos that they like (if a logo project)
  • 3 Websites that they like (if a web project)
  • Their design style (modern, contemporary, vintage etc)
  • Colour Schemes that they like (www.colorschemer.com)

You can feel free to add more so you can understand their needs a little better. Hopefully your client would have scoped you out prior to hiring you and would know your design style and is hiring you based on your amazing portfolio. If your main design style is modern and contemporary, and your client has chosen vintage and retro as their style, it would be a good idea to know this prior to the start of the project so that there are no surprises as to their expectations. The end goal for any design project is to make the client happy with a mutual love for the end result.

The Client Design Brief is not the Bible

Remember that the Client Design Brief is just a guide so that you can get to know them better. The client is hiring YOU because of your skill and expertise, so if you sense that something is not right design wise, your job is to guide and steer them in the right way. Just because the client wants something doesn’t mean it is good for them. A project can turn south very fast if it’s a one sided conversation and there’s nothing worse than designing a project that you know you will hate in the end. You will know this because you won’t bother adding it to your portfolio, it’s just that ugly.

What exactly do I mean by this? When clients want:

  • Colours that don’t compliment each other (For example Blue and Green)
  • Having a sidebar opt-in widget on every corner of the website
  • Having 5 different fonts in one logo
  • Having too many design elements in a logo
  • Adding a background or shading effect to the logo
  • Cluttering up the design with too much unnecessary information
  • Using you only because they don’t know Photoshop
  • …. you get the idea

After they have submitted their Client Design Brief, have a discussion with your client to see what works and what doesn’t. They will respect your opinion. Remember, you are the expert! If you feel that your client isn’t listening to your valuable comments and that the design could potentially go sideways, perhaps it’s a good idea to see if your dear client has anything in common with these clients and ask yourself if it’s a good idea to continue on with this project. Remember, your name is on the line! But ultimately, that is all up to you if you are willing to take on the challenge!