How to turn clients brief into the design requirements?

Setting a clear goal is a base of the successful design solution. Getting it as well as all required data from the client (text and photo content, structure of pages) appears being a hard task. Here are few steps, that allow turning a brief into the clear task.

Illustration made in TheRoom design boutique by Alexandra Marchenko

What is a well-formulated task?

Professional deformation influences world perception by man. This also applies to what a person pays attention to. Here are couple of examples:

Situation 1. Your client is marketer.

Brief will be focused on: conversion rate, target audience and market’s segmentation. The task hardly will contain information about the structure of pages and content. Woking in marketing you won’t be interested in the icon shape or typography. But it’s important for a designer.

Situation 2. Your client is a development company.

A project will be limited with MVP screens and a detailed UI Kit. Sometimes, a project may stop on the stage of wireframes.

“We’ll design on the stage of front-end”

Developers are not interested in UI and UX details. Only important things are: how to code the design and how much will it cost. Work result appears being raw, while interesting ideas are left behind the software limitations. A developer wants to make his work good. But the designer thinks that it won’t be interesting for users.

Situation 3. Your client is someone, not occupied in IT segment.

You will be asked to design a website or an app. Client will name his order this way, meaning a dashboard or even a web app. As a brief client will ask you to make a website good-looking, clean and to put all the text content (around 1km in length) on one screen. It’s important for the client to tell everything he knows about the company. But designer knows that it’s an odd thing.

What can you do with a bad brief?

Step 1. Standardize

You may have many clients, but it will be easier for the designer getting brief in one fomat. With an information, valuable for him. Create a brief for the client.

Make 4 sections of questions:

  1. Basic questions: design of what kind you need? Shall you sign a NDA agreement?
  2. Business-questions: What is company’s profile? What services (products) does company provide? How this company positions itself on the market? Who is a target audience? Who are the competitors? What are strong and weak sides of the competitors? Which business task should design solve?
  3. Design — questions: What is the main design goal (attract attention to the button, gather data about users)? What structure should be like? If there are banding and content?
  4. Organizational questions: ask for 2–3 references of websites (mobile apps), that your client likes and dislikes?If there is a deadline?

Finally, discuss once again payment conditions (will it be fixed-price or time and material) and deliveries format.

Step 2. Discuss

When client answered all questions, set up a call for the workshop. Book 1–2 hours for this. Ask specifying questions about the idea of the service (product). On the call it’s possible to create a Rapid Prototype.

If it’s not UI redesign and work on the project should be started from the zero stage, while a service (product) is complicated, agree with the client on 10–20 hours for the UX Research. Neither calls, nor briefings allow visualize data fully.

Step 3. Discovery stage

It’s hard creating a good visual solution for the service if you don’t work on the sphere. Get know the main idea of the service and research existing companies on the market.

Example of the Discovery step

Answer yourself the following questions:

  • what do these companies offer?
  • how do they work?
  • how do they visualize functional?

Let’s check out an example.

A situation. You’re working on the design for the algorithm of decision making.

But you’re a designer, not a business-analytic. The first thing you need to do is to ask the client to give you a few articles (books, presentations) on the topic. Find out, how does the algorithm work, how is decision making realized and which factors influence the result. How will an algorithm be working with the pimply data?

Step 4. Market and competitors research

When the niche research is finished, it’s time to focus on the market analyses and competitors. Don’t look only on good-looking solutions. Analyze all direct and indirect competitors. Even not beautiful website functions may be realized well.

Report from SimilarWeb used for competitors research

It’s not enough to ask a client about the target audience, check out the statistics. Find out where users come from and how much time do they spend on the page. Pay attention to the total amount of visitors and create an analogy between the visual solutions on different services.

Шаг 5. Jobs to be done VS Personas

To understand, which functional should you offer to the user, define groups of users. If you have many different groups of users and demographic factor influences a task, the user has to complete — try Personas.

If the demographic factor doesn’t influence the goal the user wants to reach on the website — try Jobs to be Done. You’ll get a chance to understand better which steps user take on the way to his goal.

Example of Job Stories

Шаг 6. MVP functions list and screen map

At the current stage, a list of functions becomes obvious — the only thing left is to write down the list of certain functions for the stages user takes on the way to the goal. After defining a basic scope of functional, take a look at the relevance of every function and evaluate it from 1 to 10 (where 10 — the most important and 1 — the least important). All functions evaluated for 1,2 and 3 may be left for the next version of the product.

Example of the user flow for the mobile app

The only thing left is user flow (user flow — a logic of the user interaction with the product) or screen map (a full description of all required screens and links between them).

Example of the screen map

Now, a designer for real has a chance to turn the client’s idea into something great. Turn all the gathered data into the documentation, clear for you and the client. And come back to this documentation during the work on the project as often as possible.

How to turn clients brief into the design requirements? was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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