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How to write a charity website brief – includes free template

We Care website wireframe on a laptop

A charity website design brief is a document that outlines the scope of a project and the desired outcomes, and if you’re thinking of commissioning a new website, a website brief is a great place to start to help you select and appoint a digital agency.

It’s important to get this document right, as it outlines what your expectations are from the very beginning, and helps the designers get a better understanding of what you are looking for. It enables the designers to create a thought-out and tailored proposal, which in turn makes it easier for you to shortlist and select a designer to work with.

What to consider

A great brief consolidates your requirements and priorities and is a helpful document that you can reference throughout and after the project. For an effective design brief, there are a few key points that you need to remember:

  • The aims and objectives of the website
  • What your budget is
  • The specific requirements or features
  • Outline any deadlines – especially if your charity has a big event or fundraising opportunity that a new website can help with

It is a good idea to talk with any volunteers, board members, and team members before writing a brief as they might be able to provide insight and pain points that you may not have considered.

What to include in your web design brief

Your organisation’s background

Your background sets the scene and helps designers get to know you. Write a short paragraph about your charity including your mission, what you do, and who your target audience(s) are. Other useful metrics such as your organisation’s size and turnover can also provide insight and allow charity website designers to provide quick feedback and advise if you may be a good fit for their offering.

Objectvies

Before commissioning a website design, it is important to have clear objectives. Are you trying to attract new sponsors, increase the number of donations, or win more grants? Including key performance indicators that matter to you is a great way to understand the reasons for the new website and get the designer to start thinking about how this can best be achieved for your charity.

Why are you planning a website redesign?

In addition to the objectives, explaining why now is the time to overhaul your website can help the designer tailor the solution to you. Often we find the reason is due to pain points for key stakeholders such as team members and volunteers finding it hard to edit the existing website, or users not being able to navigate your website and find the information they are looking for. Other reasons could include changing or adding to your offering, the current website not being mobile-friendly, the existing content is not appropriate, or simply that the website is aesthetically out of date or the charity has gone through a rebrand.

Requirements and features

Will this be led by an initial discovery or consultation, or do you already know your must-haves? You should outline any requirements and features that need to be included, especially if they are not on your existing website or they might get missed. This could include any third-party system integrations, a donation platform, blog, newsletter signup and more.

The Process

You should include how you would prefer to work with the agency/designer. Would you like an agreed specification or work on a more agile basis? Who are the stakeholders that will be included in the process and who will sign off on work? Is their existing content for the website that needs to be migrated or restructured, or do you need help copywriting? Are there any additional services you would like to include such as photography, videography or marketing?

Timescale

If possible, you should include any particular circumstances that affect the timeline. E.g. is there a grant you are applying for, or a large event/conference coming up that would benefit from having the website live? Most website designers will include a timeline in their proposal, and the knowledge of any circumstances allows them to plan for that.

Download our charity website design brief template

You can download our free web design brief template here. To use the Google Docs document, please go to File > Make a copy.

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