Digital Strategy

Writing a foolproof brief for your new website: Part 3

Graeme Ashworth

Hopefully you will have read my first two blog posts in this series about how to write a killer brief for your new website. In the first post, I focused on the background information and situational analysis for your brief, and then I moved on to the project vision and future solution in the second post.

This third and final post will talk you through what you should include around your selection process and the criteria you are using, the budgets you have available, and the timescales you are working to.

Digital brief

Selection process and criteria

This is important as it helps an agency to establish your priorities and determines how you will make your decision. If you have some criteria and a scoring process that you will be judging the proposals on, you should include it here, for example, price, references, service, etc.

It’s also useful to explain who will be making the decision and what the general process will be. For example, will you review the proposals and then invite the top three agencies to come in to pitch?


In many cases, the importance of good chemistry between a client and agency can be overlooked. Remember you are going to be working closely together on this project and going forwards. Consider which agencies are genuinely interested in your challenges, in you, your industry and your company.

Sometimes, taking a fresh approach altogether can yield great results. Recently, one of our new clients ran a day long chemistry session with all the agencies they invited to pitch, with a lunch and networking opportunities. It was an unusual approach but did give the client a flavour of each of the agencies and how they would act outside of their comfort zone.

Another approach is to spend a portion of time with each agency to assess their consultative skills and challenge them on why they are the right agency for you. This is before you even issue an RFP - you will get a good flavour of how this agency approaches challenges and will also tell you and other key stakeholders whether these are the type of people you want to work with.


For understandable reasons, many clients often avoid disclosing their budget at the brief stage. I can’t stress enough how counterproductive this can be. By being as upfront about your budget as possible, you can save both parties time and ensure you select an agency that is used to delivering similar projects for similar budgets.

Tip: If you’re unsure about what budget you should be spending on your website, most agencies would be happy to provide ball-park costs for their services and explain the value and type of solution you might get at each price point.

There is no point in an agency putting together a proposal for an all singing, all dancing website with a budget to match if you’re budget is very conservative. Also, if the agencies know the budget you are working to, they are likely to come back with similar quotes for similar services which means you can more easily compare their services and approach.

You should include as much information as possible including how your budget is split.

  • What is the budget for design and development of the website?
  • Is there a budget for ongoing support and maintenance?
  • Do you have a digital marketing budget to support the website post-go live?


Do you have a timescale in mind? Do you need the site to go live by a particular date? Are there any particularly busy periods for your business? Do you implement a code freeze at key trading periods? Here, you should give an indication of the timescales you’d like to work to.

It’s worth noting here that with the best will in the world, a pragmatic approach to delivery timeframes usually leads to a better outcome for your project. It’s about getting the right team with the right skills to deliver against the right spec, even if this means some short term pain.

So, that’s a roundup of the core elements I feel you should include in your brief. However, as a final note, you should encourage communication with potential suppliers throughout the process so that both parties can get clarification, ask questions, and gain a thorough understanding of your project. This clear dialogue between agency and client from the outset is vital.

For further help on writing a brief for your new website, why not give us a call, we would be happy to help and provide a brief template.