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How to Make a Useful Creative Briefs

How to make a useful creative briefs

After you understand the goals, requirements, target audience, competitors, and approach, summarize it into a creative brief. A creative brief is a condensed project plan that lists a brief overview of the project, the tech requirements, look and feel keywords, tone of voice, aesthetic, and inspiration. It is made specifically for the creative team (designers, writers, illustrators) to help them get a direction for the design. But you can tailor it to work for developers too. Structure the document so that they have a good understanding of who the client is, what needs to be done, and how, without needing to read for hours.

It is also a good, short document to keep in alignment with your client. Refer to the Creative Brief whenever a request seems to stray from the original goal. For example, if the target audience prefers simplicity, having a 50-item navigation might not be the best solution.

You probably can skip this step if it’s a small project (or you’re the only designer). It’s important that you find what works for you and your client and keeps you both on the same page. But, even with the smallest projects, this document can help you save time and stay aligned throughout the project.

We like to keep our creative briefs as simple as possible, detailing:

  • Project summary (1-2 sentences): Outline the general overview of the project, organizational background, the environment the organization exists in, the people the organization serves, and the unique value it provides to its audience.
  • Goals (2-3 bullets): What are two or three specific, measurable goals the site should achieve? Clear goals empower the web team to focus on what will provide the most impact and move the organization forward.
  • Target audiences (3 main types with 2-3 short sentences): Who are we connecting with? Give a brief statement about who each type is, their goals, their challenges, and how we can help them.
  • Messaging & Keywords (bullet list): What are the key messages that attract and motivate key audiences to engage with the client’s brand? What key brand styles or tone of voice help differentiate the organization from its competition?
  • Competition (bullet list): Who are rival organizations that provide similar offerings to your audience? Include an overview of competitive organizations’ websites, considering visual branding, messaging, navigation, calls to action, and key differentiators.
  • Inspiration (bullet list): What websites or visual styles do your client aspire to be like? What do they like about those examples?
  • Design Approach (bullet list): What are the required design elements for this project? What is up to interpretation?
  • Tech Needs (bullet list): What are the required technical requirements for this project? What kind of libraries do you plan on using?

The most successful briefs will be simple and give creative space for designers to explore. It should provide some framework for the work we want to accomplish while encouraging originality.


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