As a company providing UX design services, we regularly have to familiarise ourselves with new projects in an efficient manner.
What is a UX brief?
A UX brief is a tool that helps your design team help you. If you’ve ever needed UX design services, you most likely sent out at least one inquiry to a UX agency.
In it, you probably specified what your design problem is and how you’d like it to be solved, described your business, and asked about collaboration options. That was a UX brief, and the information you provided had a direct effect on the response you received.
The importance of the UX creative brief for good cooperation with a UX consulting company
Perhaps you’ve sent UX briefs to several companies, but the responses you got in return were disappointing and didn’t answer your most important questions.
This is obviously a problem, as you now have to spend valuable time on either providing each UX company with more precise information or on finding new potential partners. It’s wasteful and frustrating, especially if you’re dealing with looming deadlines, and can lead to serious miscommunication between you and the UX studio you choose to partner with.
If, on the other hand, your UX brief is crafted to include all of the necessary data, UX companies can build exhaustive proposals quickly, taking into consideration your current and future needs, as well as your internal processes.
They can look at their own schedules and plan for your upcoming cooperation. Finally, the solutions they present you with will be tailored to your unique situation. It’s worth it to spend some extra time on preparing a detailed brief when the payoff is so big.
The ingredients of a good UX brief
There’s no one “correct” template for a good UX brief. All you really need is to remember what elements it has to include. You can include extra ingredients if you’d like - such as inspirational materials - but missing one of those listed below can lead to confusion on the part of your design partner.
Definition of the problem
Good apps exist to solve specific problems for their users, and the same is true for good UX design. What are the challenges you face in conveying information to users, engaging them or inspiring them to take certain actions? Do you need to improve conversion and reduce the bounce rate? Do your users abandon the buyer’s journey at a particular point? Make sure to explain what problems you want to solve and provide all the data that will help your design team understand your needs.
Objectives, not solutions
Remember that you’ll be working with a team of creatives with vast commercial experience. You want to set project goals, yes, but if you impose your own solutions on your team, you won’t be able to take advantage of their full potential. Instead, define the objectives you’d like to see accomplished. If possible, you can also describe any solutions or approaches that have provided unsatisfactory results in the past.
You need to be very clear about what you want your design team to do, and what goes beyond the scope of their assignment. Avoid situations in which misinformation leads your team to provide more than you needed, or not enough.
Product description and background information
Write about your product, your market, and your user base. Include your USP (unique selling proposition), users’ pain points and current behaviour (which are especially helpful if backed up by any kind of analytics data), as well as general information on how you plan to differentiate yourself from the competition. It’s also worth it to spend some time on describing your business strategy, as UX should (if possible) directly complement it.
Project goals and definition of success
This is a crucial element of the brief (and projects in general), and one that’s often overlooked. Many people get so focused on their vision that they forget to define how they will measure success.
This results in a strange situation where the project is technically completed, but it’s difficult to decide whether it’s successful. Don’t make this mistake, particularly when working with a design or tech partner, as having a definition of success in place protects you from low-quality services.
If you define project goals and communicate to your team what they need to accomplish to complete their task successfully, they will deliver real value for your business. You can provide benchmarks to make sure you and your team are on the same page.
Budget and project timeline
Your team needs to know what resources you’re willing to spend on building your product. The solutions they propose will be adjusted for your budget. Scope comes into play here as well: make sure to let your team know whether you want any specific elements of the design process or the designs themselves that might influence cost. Your design team will make their own suggestions based on the brief, but if something is especially important to you, include it.
Deadlines are just as crucial. If you need the product to be ready in a short amount of time, your design team should be a little larger, or prepared to work under pressure. They will also propose solutions that can be implemented quickly. If you don’t make sure your design team understands your timeline, don’t be surprised when they can’t deliver what they’ve proposed on time.
A peek at your internal processes
A little information on your team and processes (such as the job titles of the people your design team will communicate with, main stakeholders and decision makers, other agencies they might collaborate with, or your desired level of involvement with the UX design process) can be a huge step towards a smooth cooperation.
Many design companies are happy to make adjustments to their process to cater to the way your business operates, or plan the communication flow with it in mind, but you need to let them know what to expect in advance.
Make sure that your brief includes any requirements specific to your business. This could be related to the technology you use, your branding, or legal issues impacting your product. If your users come from a specific culture that might react badly to certain design decisions, let your team know. Set them up to succeed - after all, you want to see the best results they can deliver.
The above are basic guidelines for writing a UX brief when looking for a design studio to partner with. They will help you communicate clearly with your future team of designers. These guidelines are not necessarily exhaustive.
You know your business best, and are aware of its specific needs. Keep them in mind while crafting your brief and you’ll be set to begin a fruitful collaboration.
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