Various Methods of Creating a Project Brief

Creating a website project and explaining your needs of what you want done by a freelancer or by a private contractor who specializes in WordPress, might turn out best, in the end, if you are well prepared and have all your ducks in a row when diving into the project. The number one item that can speed up the process is a project brief or work overview.

There are too many scenarios that would require an incorporation of a written brief, so it would be impossible to cover every angle of how-to make the perfect workflow descriptor for every case; so let’s look at some examples of the more common ones that will hopefully give you a better idea of what a developer likes to see from a potential client when a new project is at hand.

First Line of Communications

Often a person asks for work and forgets that the developer on the other end of the communication channel is not a mind reader. To save time it helps to include some of these items in your first line of communication. These are the question I, as a developer, would ask; usually when there is not enough information to create an estimate, at hand.


Case: New website concept

Define Your objective (brief)
List exactly what you want to achieve
What your categories and pages are
What do you want the visitors to your site to do.

As much info as you can come up with. It always helps to have a scope of work for yourself so that you can take in the process. Maybe a design preference, possibly some kind of drawing or an outline of the way you see it on the page. And a user experience flowchart or usage map as well.

Now, hopefully, the client is more prepared to give information that will set both parties on the right track and has the baseline to look at while deciding the “little things” later by getting the bigger things scoped out. Which creates a ‘structure’ to work by.

Case: New website with some assets in place but more work needed.

A ‘hit-list’ of what a developer would need to move forward:

Information Gathering (What research you have to help developer understand your needs.)
Purpose -Project Summary
What is the purpose of the site/project or task?
Do you want to provide information, promote a service, sell a product?

Goals – Project Charter.
What do you hope to accomplish with the web site? (Two of the more common goals. ex., make money; share information…)
What is your Target Audience? age, interests, etc.

Site map
Pages, including links and a hierarchy of page organization.

Content Layout and User Experience
Wireframe and design elements planning. Documented site structure and/or a visual representation (flowchart, bullet list, drawing…)
Target audience be looking for “x” on your site? (Written and visual content)
What plugins/assets will be needed to achieve goals. (Membership, Sales, Social…)

Case: More of the same but condensed for brevity.

Goal identification: determine what goals the site needs to fulfill.

Scope definition: define the scope of the project. I.e., what pages and features the site requires, and the timeline for building those out.

Sitemap and wireframe creation: defining how the content and features we defined in scope definition will interrelate.

Content creation: content for the individual pages.

Visual elements: Branding!. defining the visual style from the ground up. Style tiles, moodboards, and element collages can help with this process.

Testing: Combine manual browsing of the site on a variety of devices with automated site crawlers to identify everything from user experience issues to simple broken links.

Case: Complex user/admin interface with form inputs.

Would you be able to come up with a formatted flowchart illustrating the process. Possibly a case by case relationship between what form fields do what on the user side and then how they will relate to the admin side…. and any APIs. It seems like there are a lot of “parts” and your project would benefit from a diagram so that all parties can get on the same page. It also helps you visualize the process as an admin and can lead to some intervention at times if you have a working model on “paper.”

So now I have more info than: Can you help me pull info from my site to Salesforce. And you have saved me, the developer, time…. as well as presented your angle of approach in a more professionally acceptable format.


Methodology to Help Gather a Workflow Brief

A Simple Workflow-Process To Design And Develop A Website

– Define Your Brief
– Exactly what I want to achieve

Initial Research and Idea Generation
– You might want to look at other sites for inspiration
– Any APIs or external connections that need developer documentation resources.
– Google and look at other sites for that are doing similar things as you want your to do.
Any research you have done so far or any ideas that you can explain to us.

Create a Timeline
– More or less a guide to help you organize tasks and stay productive

Design Your Brand
– Brand is the visual language that describes who you are and how others see you. These branding elements may need to be stressed into the language of the workflow in order to keep sight of the importance of Branding.

Create Content
– Many leave content creation out until after layout and aesthetics. Create content early on in the project because it will determine the design.

Sketch Wireframes
– Simple but effective, using a pen and sketchbook, layout your process (user experience flow) and then another sketch for the sitemap or pages. Take a photo with your phone and email it to yourself. Now you have a wireframe set as a form of communication.

Responsive Design and Flexible Grids
– This can be left up to the designer as it is a given in modern website construction methods.

(Develop – Mostly what developer needs to consider.)
– Create Flexible Images
– PreLoader or CDN?
– Use CSS Image Sprites
– Catering to High-Definition Screens
– Page Transitions
– Custom WordPress Development
– Plugins may need attribution
– Custom page templates?
– Test Across Browsers
– Google Analytics, SEO?
– Media Break Points

Method of Approach to Explain a Complex Project-Overview

As an example; you may want a members only site and need to convey how you want it to work. Don’t forget there are two side to every story: administration workflow and the user experience (front end functionality). You may be able to explain a majority of the project using an ordered list. The example below would give most good developers enough info to “fill in the blanks” as to what else you would need.

A. User logs in and is taken to dashboard
B. What utilities are on the dashboard.
C. User updates dashboard notifications or products.
D. User can manage money or profile and availability

A. Client logs in and is taken to dashboard
B. Set Dashboard widgets and user levels to access parts of site
C. Client can communicate and update their projects
D. Client has setup for banking or money exchange

A. Can set user levels caps
B. Can set categories of product and caps
C. Has email and other optional communications w/everyone (chat/comments)
D. Sets money flow properties and withdrawal/payment gateway types.
E. Has a way to control Client or Vendor registration.
F. Support and Metrics tracking.

Other Concepts

Some projects may need to be completed by using iterations. This is where both parties decide on the most important parts of the scope and approach those, first. Moving through the project in increments so that the end-game is more easily achieved without adding tons of ‘noise’ into the picture which typically slows down progress.

A common terminology for iterations is agile development.

Agile Development

is adaptive rather than predictive
is people-oriented rather than process-oriented


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