Why is it important to work on a "design brief" before designing?

Design brief by Bonito Studio
A design brief is an invaluable tool that facilitates effective communication, creativity, and efficiency throughout the design process.
Design always has a purpose. Paula Scher.


When a brand or company seeks us to start a project, one of our first arguments/questions is: "You have X need, and you want X service... however, let's start from the beginning. Can you tell us how you got to this point? Your “why? Your purpose?

That is the first question. Then, we go through a series of questions where we seek to deep dive into the specific need that the client has and be able to advise them on what they need and how we can collaborate.

This set of questions is what we call a “design brief”. It is a critical tool that sets the foundation for a successful design project. It ensures that everyone – team, stakeholders, etc – is on the same page, facilitates communication, sparks creativity, and helps guide the design process toward meeting the project's objectives effectively.

Working on a design brief before starting any design project is essential for seven reasons:

1. Understanding client requirements: The design brief outlines the project's objectives and requirements, helping designers gain a clear understanding of what the client wants to achieve. It includes information about the target audience, project scope, budget, deadlines, and any specific preferences the client may have. This understanding is crucial for creating a design that meets the client's expectations.

2. Setting clear goals: A well-defined design brief establishes clear goals and objectives for the project. It provides a roadmap for the design process and helps the design team focus on what needs to be accomplished. Clear goals enable designers to make informed decisions throughout the project and ensure that their efforts align with the project's overall purpose.

3. Enhancing communication: The design brief serves as a written agreement between the client and the designer. It minimizes miscommunications and misunderstandings by providing a documented reference that both parties can refer to throughout the project. This helps in maintaining a smooth working relationship and avoids potential conflicts.

4. Stimulating creativity: Contrary to the belief that constraints creativity, a well-crafted design brief can actually foster creative thinking. By providing specific guidelines and limitations, designers are encouraged to explore innovative solutions within the defined boundaries. The brief acts as a foundation for creativity to thrive, ensuring that the final design addresses the project's needs effectively.

5. Efficient use of resources: Design projects often have constraints, such as time and budget limitations. A design brief allows designers to focus their efforts and resources on the most critical aspects of the project. This efficiency leads to a more streamlined and productive design process.

6. Benchmark for evaluation: As the project progresses, the design brief serves as a benchmark for evaluating the design's success. Designers can refer back to the brief to ensure that the final product aligns with the initial goals and requirements. If deviations occur, they can be identified and addressed promptly.

7. Professionalism and accountability: Working on a design brief demonstrates professionalism and a commitment to the project's success. It shows that the designer is serious about delivering a solution that meets the client's needs and is willing to put in the effort to achieve that goal.

A design brief is an invaluable tool that facilitates effective communication, creativity, and efficiency throughout the design process. As designers, we need direction and the design briefs lays the groundwork for a successful project by ensuring everyone involved has a shared vision and understanding of what needs to be accomplished.