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The quick and efficient guide to presenting design briefs

4 min read
Richard Banfield  •  Sep 12, 2019
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There is a better way to be presenting your design briefs—one that addresses important questions and leads your team to better outcomes, faster.

Lest the title mislead you, the brief itself won’t be written in five minutes—five minutes is the time it takes to present or share the brief, leaving you more time for discussions with your team. 

Let’s go into the essential sections of a design brief, their purpose, and how to express your point both briefly and clearly.


The project

This section answers the question: What are you creating?

Include:

  • A description of what you’re creating
  • Explanation of what will be built
  • Short explanation of the why

For example:

“We want to add a more intuitive in-line component editing feature to the current component library. Right now editing can only be accessed through the primary navigation, which is confusing for users of the app.”

(Use InVision Freehand to lay out your design brief.)

The offering

This section answers the question: What do we think this thing is valuable for and why?

Include:

  • Why the customer needs this new product
  • The pain points being addressed
  • How research backs up your assumption

For example:

“Our power users prefer simple in-line tools. We know this from qualitative interviews with users and reading their reviews on the app store. In-line tools make editing faster and speed matters to our customers.”

Fundamental vision and values

This section answers the question: How is this addition aligned with our product and our company missions? 

Include:

  • Explanation of the product signals product-level vision and company-level mission
  • Explanation of differentiating factors regarding excellence and efficiency

For example:

“The product vision is to empower the digital designer through excellence and efficiency. This tool addresses both. Excellence is achieved by making us the only tool in the market with in-line component editing . Efficiency is addressed by reducing click-flow and increasing the individual and aggregate edit speeds.”

The audience

This section answers the questions: Who is this valuable for? Why should they care?

Include:

  • Overview of user persona
  • Discussion of pain points

For example:

“Our power user is the primary audience for this editing tool. These users value speed and efficiency. Giving them a way to reduce the time they spend on projects shows them that we care about the things they care about.”

The desirability

This section answers the questions: How much of an impact will this feature have on the customer’s excitement or satisfaction of the overall product? Can you validate desire?

Include:

  • Learnings from research and testing
  • Links to test results

For example:

“Testing has produced very positive results. Our prototype scored high in a recent design sprint and further qualitative testing has established a strong desire for this new feature.” 

The outcomes

This section answers the questions: What is the outcome we are trying to achieve? What do we need to accomplish to create that outcome?

Include:

  • Explanation of value proposition
  • Description of scope of work for all stakeholders

For example:

“Smoother editing behavior that makes the power user feel more efficient and professional. To create this, we need both the design and the UX to be seamless. We will also need to make sure the front-end developers understand how important speed is in these features. A well-designed in-line tool won’t create the desired outcome if it’s too slow to refresh or render.”

The experience and memory

This section answers the questions: What is the experience we’re creating and whats the enduring memory we’re hoping to create?

Include:

  • Descriptions of exciting product “moments”
  • Specific details that users will love

For example:

“The first wow moment will be when designers see the in-line tools for the first time and realize they don’t need to open a dialog window or tooltip to figure out how to make the edit. The second wow moment will come when the designer realizes they saved several minutes off a project.”

The timing

This section answers the questions: How much time do we have to create this design? Who else needs to be considered in this cycle?

Include:

  • Timeline
  • Stakeholders
  • Technical needs

For example:

“We have four weeks to design this toolset and test it again before handing off to dev. Testing should be completed by the start of the fourth week so any final changes can be added and checked before the handoff.”

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The impact on others

This section answers the questions: Who in the product org will this new design effect?

Include:

  • Breakdown of team players and stakeholders
  • Explanation of resources needed

For example:

“There will be an additional load on the front-end code to deliver in-line edits. We need to work closely with the dev team to ensure we’re not adding bloat to the load and render times. These proposed changes will also require product marketing to update the website, tutorials, and videos. Sales will need to know about this change as it’s a competitive advantage and enterprise users will see the largest gains in time savings.”

A good design brief sets the tone for your design journey, though it is a working document and may need to be updated throughout the project to keep you on course. The care you give to creating the brief will signal confidence to the team and your design partners, and by asking the right questions upfront, your team can achieve a clear understanding of the product’s goals and potential roadblocks before any work begins.