Luck is the residue of design.  –Branch Rickey

Excellence in design can = excellent business results.  Everyone knows that great design (e.g. product, packaging, graphic & web design, etc.) can be a such a big differentiator.  Apple has been a master at pulling together great design & WOW’ing consumers.  I would love to see a good example of an Apple design brief…wouldn’t you?

Clients have the responsibility of writing up design briefs.  Some clients are pretty adept at providing written briefs because they have a “writing” culture,  while other clients are not very good at writing design briefs because they simply don’t do them often enough…or briefs are just not integrated into their business processes well enough.

Most design briefs include all the typical items:  Objective, Deliverables, Mandatories, Budgets, Timings, etc.  But what makes a really great brief?  What is that trigger that really gets an agency moving toward great design?  Do agencies even read briefs?  And what if you are a freelancer living thousands of miles away from your client…making face to face communication with your client next to impossible?

To close my rambling thoughts tonight (it is late) and I thought I would leave you with tips on what to include in a good brief from a Freelance designer perspective.  As I am on the client side, I can always benefit from design brief nuggets of wisdom…so tks to from Shaun Crowley at the impressive blog Freelance Switch for the tips.  Read below for my condensed copy/paste version of the tips or click here to read the full post (The Ultimate Design brief) that I am highlighting this evening.

Good things to include in a brief.

* Title of item.
* Delivery mechanism and marketing objectives.
* Format.
* Budget and schedule.

* What are you providing the designer with: Product shots, website screen shots, photographs, diagrams, etc. (Check these are high-resolution.)
* General description of format: Describe any formatting issues you have arranged with the printer.
* Description of target audience: Occupation, gender ratio, average age, nationality/location, psychological demographic, lifestyle preferences.
* Message objectives: Hierarchy of copy messages, treatment of headlines, body copy, visuals, product samples, call-to-action.
* Where to look for inspiration: Give brief examples of style / overall look you want the item to achieve. What aspects of the product or branding can be used as a starting point for the design? What feelings or metaphors reflect the spirit of your product or company?
* What not to do: Also give examples of what the design shouldn’t include and what styles to avoid.

Here are some additional tips for briefing a designer from Shaun

1. Think about the message of the design.
Offer guidance to help the designer marry the “look” of the item with the “voice” of the copy.

2. Don’t prescribe solutions.
You are paying for the designer’s ideas, so avoid the temptation to tell the designer what to do. Instead, be clear about what the item needs to achieve, so the designer can explore ideas. This is where you need the designer’s expertise.