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The Art of an Effective Design Brief

Chandan Mishra
Nov 16, 2016 · 3 min read

3 ways you can convey your requirements to a designer effectively.

I’ve been designing web and mobile apps for quite some time now and one of the first thing, as a designer, I go through on a daily basis is to try and dig out what is still sitting in my clients head which, somehow, he/she isn’t able to put in words for me.

Though, day after day, I am getting better at reading between the lines and reaching the subconscious goals and purpose of the client or users I talk to, I still feel there are a few simple things, which as a client looking to get the most out of a designers, you can do:

To get the most out of your meeting with a designer, write down the primary goals and purpose of your idea before the meeting/call. Just think out loud and write them down on a piece of paper. Things which you think are important for your app, important features, target audience, etc.

If you can come up with a few crude sketches on paper, before briefing your designer, trust me, your brief is going to be a lot more productive than it would have been otherwise.

It’s important to brainstorm with the designer (design team) you’re planning to hire.

A good designer will know what you want. A great designer will know what you don’t want.

2) Break your requirements into smaller chunks.

Give your designer some time to come back to you. Let him do his research based on the points you discussed with him. The key is to tackle one thing at a time. No design is perfect, but you can inch closer to a perfection if you build your product carefully around a well structured design solution.

Give your designer enough time to come up with proper data points and thoughts on how he is going to pursue any particular design challenge. This can only happen if you give your designer some time to digest and process the features you have just told him about.

Yes. Asking questions to the designer during your briefing sessions is very important to make sure that both of you are on the same page.

Afterall, you don’t want someone to start making an airplane when your end-user only need a skateboard.

As a client, you should never assume that your designer has understood everything clearly. There are a lot of factors like domain knowledge, demographic knowledge, etc which your designer might not be aware of.

You can save a lot of time and back and forth by helping your designer to understand your domain. So, you should never forget asking questions like:

- Did he understand what you just explained?
- What does the designer think about your idea?
- Is he equally excited, as much as you are, about your concept?
- What design method he thinks is going to suit your particular problem?
- What are the things/features that are going to involve a deeper dive in terms of understanding the feature?

In the end, always try to stay involved in the entire design life-cycle. Provide regular feedbacks on a daily/alternate day basis. Trust your designers decisions if he’s backing his design decision with a valid data points in terms of user behaviour, color psychology, usability etc.

To make your briefing session really productive, come prepared with your ideas and sketches on a piece of paper and try to keep your brief short and sweet, just enough for your designer to digest because your designer may or may not have the domain expertise. And remember, do not forget to keep asking questions to make sure that your designer and you are on the same page.

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