We receive lots of briefs for UX projects – some are very clear and detailed, others are somewhat vague and leave us guessing as to exactly what is needed and how we should respond. A great brief will help us to help you. If you write a good brief, the responses that you get back will reflect that. You’ll be much more likely to get inspiring, exciting and innovative proposals that give you exactly what you want.
In our experience, there are a number of elements that go together to make a great brief. It’s all about giving us enough information to understand what you need, without unnecessarily constraining the possible solutions.
So, to create a great UX brief, we’d love it if you could include the following elements.
Please tell us how much your budget is
We know that many clients don’t want to reveal a budget for fear that everyone will respond with proposals that exactly meet that price. But, from our perspective, the budget is probably one of the most important things to include in your brief. If you were shopping for a car, you’d definitely have a budget and you’d visit the appropriate dealerships – you wouldn’t be in the BMW showroom if your budget was £5k.
Similarly, different user experience agencies offer different services at different price points. By letting us know your budget, we know whether we’re a good match. We can figure out the best possible solution that we can deliver within your price range and we won’t waste your time (and ours) working up a response that is way too expensive. It also allows us to offer different solutions at different price points within your budget.
Outline your objectives, but don’t prescribe the solution
Obviously, we need to know what you want to achieve with your user experience project. What are your objectives? Why? Do you know how you will measure the success of the project?
If you keep your objectives at the most abstract level possible, you give us the freedom to come up with the best possible solution. Try not to prescribe the approach that you think is needed.
If you want more visitors through the door of your museum, then tell us that. Don’t ask for usability testing of the visitor pages on your website or for ethnographic visitor research onsite. Instead, set out the problem and the changes that you’d like to achieve. Give us the freedom to suggest a solution – it could well be something you’d never have thought of!
And please, if you’re not sure what you need, just give us a call. We can help you to make sure you get the maximum benefit from your investment in UX.
Give us as much background information as you can
Help us to understand you and your project. Let us know how you’ve arrived at the current situation. What previous projects have taken place? Do you have any relevant research that could help us to better understand the problem? What do you already know about your audiences and what they think? What is your company strategy? What is the essence of your brand?
Don’t worry about providing too much information – we need to “get” you. You are the experts in your own business – we need to absorb as much as we can and then apply our UX expertise to identify the best possible approach to meet your needs. Detailed information helps us to get our methodology spot on – for example, knowing your audience segments helps us to figure out how many people we might need to speak to. Knowing about the previous projects and research helps us to understand what you’ve already done and to make sure that our approach complements and augments the work that has already been completed.
Be really clear on what’s in scope and what’s out
This can be a simple list, but it’s important to be really clear so that there are no surprises down the line. If you’ve got 15 microsites that need to be assessed, please list them rather than assuming that we’ll find them for ourselves. If you’ve got a separate project looking at your SEO strategy, let us know.
If there are critical project dates, tell us
If you have critical project dates, please include them. You may need the project to finish by a certain date so that it can feed into another project. Or you may need to hit certain dates that are critical for your business, such as the Christmas shopping period.
If you tell us, we can make sure we have potential resource available when you might need them. And conversely, if dates don’t matter and the project doesn’t have any dependencies, let us know that as well. We don’t want to turn something down because we can’t meet the dates, only to find out the dates were flexible!
Let us know a bit about your team and how you work
It’s helpful to know who we’ll be working with – just some high-level information like job titles. Are there other agencies who we’ll need to collaborate and coordinate with? And let us know how you’d like to work with us. Do you want to be co-located with our team working together closely or would you rather be more hands-off?
This lets us tailor our approach accordingly. We can adjust the number of workshops and checkpoints depending on how involved you’d like to be and whether we need to involve other agencies. We can also make sure that any proposed deliverables will be fit for purpose – more detailed for a less experienced team or summarised for an executive audience.
And finally, let us know how you’ll be dealing with the responses to your brief
It’s always very helpful to know what the next steps will be once you receive the responses. How will you score the bids? What is the timeframe for responding? Do you anticipate face-to-face pitches? If so, approximately when?
All of this helps us to get the proposal right – making sure that we include the information that’s important to you – and to plan for the possible next steps.
Next time you’re thinking of sending out a UX brief, please take a few minutes to check this list. Spending the time to get your UX brief right will certainly not be wasted time. In fact, it could well help you to source and innovative solution that makes all the difference to your business. Delivering user experience excellence is a real differentiator for your products and services, something we explore further in our 'Journeys With Unicorns' white paper.
Can we help?
Nomensa is an award-winning UX design agency with offices in Bristol, London and Amsterdam. If you would like us to help you with your user experience challenges or to provide you with a UX evaluation of your website/mobile app to help set you apart from your competition, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.