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Chapter 03. Phase 1: Define the Project > Preparing a Communication Brief

Preparing a Communication Brief

An effective way to make sure you understand what someone has said to you is to repeat it back to the person clearly and concisely. In addition to being the basis for understanding the overall tone, goals, and direction of a project, the Communication Brief (also called the Creative Brief) restates the client's wishes by organizing the answers from the Client Survey. List the overall site goals in the Communication Brief. This will serve to align both the team and the client under the same terminology. Witheveryone talking the same language and working toward the same goals, the project has an excellent chance of staying on target.

Take thoughtful time when preparing the Communication Brief ([3.7] is a generic sample) because you and your team will be referring to it throughout the project, but don't sweat over it for weeks. It is a short and simple statement of site objectives, from overall goals to targeted audience to end-user perception. It should identify — among other things — style, audience, and message. In addition, the Communication Brief sets the project's tone (how people should perceive the site and the company).

3.7. This sample communication brief has been abbreviated in its printed form here. Both Audience B and Audience C received as much of a description as Audience A. Your communication briefs should do the same for all your target audiences.

The Communication Brief should articulate visual and conceptual goals for the new site, both independent of and in comparison to the existing site. This document should be nonvisual — no sketches or layouts — and it should be short (only one to two pages) to ensure that it actually gets read. It can be as informal as an email or formal enough to be included in a bound report. No matter the form or format, it needs to be client approved. Get it signed.

Pull information you need from the answered Client Survey and from your various meetings thus far with the client. Use the Communication Brief Worksheet to get started. Further questioning may be necessary.

The Communication Brief Worksheet

Answering the questions on this worksheet will effectively build the skeleton for your Communication Brief. The information gathered in the Discovery process (Client Survey, research, interviews) will provide you with the answers.

Project Summary: State general project information, goals, and relevant background information for the site redesign. This paragraph should be a statement overview of the project as a whole.

  1. What is the basic overview of the project? Briefly include background information if relevant.

  2. What is the single purpose of the new site?

  3. What are the secondary goals of the new site?

  4. What are the long-term goals?

Audience Profile: Profile the target audience. Provide enough detail to enhance everyone's understanding of who the audience is. Include some audience demographic information. Use these questions as a guide. Add some of your own.

  1. Who is your target audience? Choose a typical visitor and profile in detail. Include occupation, age range, gender, online frequency, online activities, and any other relevant information. Profile more than one if applicable.

  2. What is a typical task the visitor might perform on the new site? (For example, register, log on, search for information, buy a specific product, send their email address, call for more information.)

  3. What do these people care about? Why are they interested in the product the site will be offering? What trigger would prompt them to visit the site, and why would they be enticed to return?

Perception/Tone/Guidelines: How should your target audience respond to your new online presence?

  1. What does the target audience think and feel about the company and the current website?

  2. What do we want them to think and feel?

  3. How will this new website help achieve this goal?

  4. What adjectives can be used to describe the way the website and the company should be perceived by the target audience?

  5. What are some specific visual goals the site should convey?

Communication Strategy: How will we meet our measurable goals?

  1. What is the overall message you are trying to convey to your target audience? (For example, cost-effective, secure, reliable, efficient.)

  2. How will you convey the overall message? (For example, effective messaging through copy, directed path towards goal, specific offer on home page.)

  3. Identify stages of development (if appropriate) used to execute goals.

  4. How will you measure the success of the redesigned site?

Competitive Positioning: How you are different from your competition and the factors that will make you a success.

  1. How is your company or your web presence different from your competition?

  2. What specifically sets your company apart from your competition?

  3. What areas of the current site are successful and why?

Targeted Message: State a to-the-point word or concise phrase that will appropriately describe the site once it is launched.

This worksheet is available for download at www.web-redesign.com

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