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Writing an Effective Project Brief


Once your project is posted, it will get exposure.  But that exposure will not necessarily translate into interest from providers.  Getting the best results for your architectural or design projects, and generating optimum interest from providers is often determined by how best you describe your project.  The best projects are borne from briefs that are open enough to inspire ideas, while being specific enough to feel workable.

Whether you are a designer or a client, an effective project brief is the single most critical factor in ensuring a successful collaboration .  A project brief is a document focused on the desired results of project.  It should primarily focus on the results, outcomes as well as other objectives of the project.

Why Provide a Project Brief?

  • The purpose of the brief is to get everyone started with a common understanding of what’s to be accomplished. It gives direction and serves as a benchmark against which to test concepts and execution as you move through a project.
  • The ultimate responsibility for defining goals and objectives and identifying audience and context lies with the client. Another benefit of the brief is the clarity it pro¬vides you as the client about why you’re embarking on the project.

Writing An Effective Brief

The goal is to provide as much detail as possible.  You will need to come up with a list of requirements and include all relevant information meet your requirement.  After you’ve posted your project with your brief, it is quite possible that further questions will arise form provider try to get further clarification.  Below are a series of items you should be prepared to provide:

Who are you? What do you, or your business do?

A description of yourself often provides important information regarding the services and type of product you require.  Do not assume that the providers will know anything about you or your company.

What are the project goals?  Why?

  • What is the overall goal of the new project?
  • What are you trying to communicate and why?
  • How does the project differ from anything else out there?

Is there a targer market other than yourself? If so, who?

  • What are your target market’s demographics & phychographics? ie. the age, gender, income, tastes, views, attitudes, employment, geography, lifestyle of those you want to reach.

Tip: If you have multiple audiences, rank them in terms of importance.

What additional images/files/documents are needed?

  • What pictures / photographs / diagrams etc need to be used? Who is providing these?

What are the specifications?

  • What size is the design going to be?
  • What are the critical elements required?
  • Are there any limitations?
  • Where is it going to be used?

Tip: Unless you must, Don’t prescribe solutions.  You are paying for professional skills and ideas, so avoid the temptation to tell the service provider exactly what to do. Instead, be clear about what the project needs to achieve, so the designer can explore ideas. This is where you need the designer’s expertise.

Have you got a benchmark in mind?

  • You should provide the provider with some examples of what you consider to be effective or relevant results. This will set a benchmark for your provider.
  • Provide a list of things not to do, and things you do not like or wish to see in your project. This will give the provider an idea of what to avoid and will avoid disappointment on your behalf.

What Is Your Budget?

  • Providing a budget prevents providers wasting valuable time and  resources when trying to maximize your budget.
  • Providing the budget upfront also allows designers to know if the project is going to be worthwhile to complete. Make sure you are worth their time.

What is the timeframe / deadline?

  • Give your provider a detailed schedule of the project and set a realistic deadline for the completion of the work. You should take into account the various stages of the design project such as consultation, concept development, production and delivery.

Tip: Mistakes can be made if a complex job is pushed through without time to review, however, there are times when a rush job is needed, and in these cases you should be honest and upfront about it.

How will the project be delivered?

  • What Delivery Mechanisms do you prefer? If any require additional costs, make sure the provider is clear that this is covered in your project budget.
  • Describe any formatting issues you have with electronic media.

Remember, the more clues you give about your design tastes, the more likely your provider will be able to produce something close to, or even beyond your goals.

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