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Design Brief define

Describe what success looks like for your project.


  • Text Editor
  • Design Brief Template

Why do it:

It helps the entire project or product team to align on the deliverable(s) and any factors that might contribute to the satisfactory conclusion of work.

When to do it:

A design brief is a document that you create after you’ve done some exploration, but before you start to make any prototypes, because it’s formalizing findings and possible design approaches.

Who’s involved:

Designers, stakeholders, and members of the product team

The audience for this document is anyone who has to implement, understand, or reference your design to solve the problem set that the project or product requires. Typically, this is the project client. While the client maybe familiar with the project, the report is still written as though the client is new to the project because that is the best way to tell the whole story.

Time estimate:

1 hour to write
2 - 5 hours doing research

One way to do it:

  1. Before you start writing the brief, do some research to find out a) what’s the problem that you are trying to solve? and b) who is it a problem for? This can be done via stakeholder interviews, a questionnaire that you create in advance and/or user behavior observation.

  2. After synthesizing your research notes, craft an outline for the document. At a minimum, it should include:

    • Research methodology
    • Key insights
    • Recommendations
  3. The research methodology section should describe your process for learning about the problem space. Did you do interviews? Write about who you interviewed and why they were chosen for the interview. Did you perform an audit? Write about the data you gathered and why.

  4. The goal of writing key insights is to share pieces of data that helped you form an opinion about proposed solution for the problem space. Think about structuring your insights in the following format:

    • Insight: Share your most relevant observation from your research.
    • Therefore: Explain the conclusion you’ve come to based on the insight.
    • Concept: Articulate the design concept by revealing your actual idea in a few sentences.
    • Execution: Communicate how the concept will conveyed in the project/design you’re creating.
    • Benefit: Reveal the reason why you’re executing the project.
  5. Attach any reference documentation. If you did interviews, provide a link to your notes so that they can easily be accessed.

  6. Write clear recommendations for what needs to be done by the team to find success. This might be prototyping something to support a hypothesis, creating a fully polished application, or even producing just a style tile. What goes in this section is completely dependent on your problem space. Think about structuring high level recommendations in the following format:

    • Message: State the takeaway based on the project you’ve described.
    • Objective: Reiterate the goal that was outlined in the initial client brief or project assignment.
  7. If you have a timeline and deliverable list, include it.

  8. Keep in mind a few best practices when editing your document:

    • Never apologize in a design brief
    • Keep it succinct
    • Only talk about design features that have a direct correlation with a problem


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