Seven questions you have to ask when outsourcing website design

Outsourcing any project can be tricky. Your client is likely to have some definite expectations of the end product, and whether or not the agency you’re outsourcing to meets those expectations, you’re the one who has to deal with the result.

Since websites rely heavily on design and user experience, website design can be especially difficult to outsource, especially when the brand you’re working for has very clear brand guidelines and design specifications. No matter how complex the project you’re outsourcing may be, putting together a comprehensive brief that makes all requirements and expectations clear from the outset is essential to getting an end product that meets the needs of you and your client.

In this blog, we’ll look at seven questions that you need to answer when writing an outsourced website design brief.

WHO is your client?

Remember that the agency you’re outsourcing to won’t know much about your client. And, more importantly, they are not the ones that have the relationship with the client – you are. Context is all-important in making sure that you deliver an end product that meets your client’s needs. You can start by working with your client to put together their unique selling point (USP), which accurately defines who they are and why their offering is important. Another key resource when outsourcing is your client’s corporate or brand identity document. If they don’t have this, you will save yourself a lot of trouble by creating one (even if it’s basic) before briefing work out to someone else. This is key in keeping design on-brand and meeting your client’s website design expectations.

WHO is their target market?

The same rule goes for defining the target market: if you are outsourcing website design that needs to focus on great usability and user journeys, you need to make sure that whoever you’re outsourcing to has a clear idea of your target market. It’s no good paying for and receiving a final website design that is built for a specific demographic if it doesn’t fit in with your client’s target market.

WHAT does your client want?

This might seem like an obvious question, but overlooking it can leave you with an unhappy client, wasted investment and egg on your face. Remember, you’re playing middle man, so the mission needs to be very clear. Does your client want a site that focuses mainly on mobile visits? Must the site comply with country or region specific regulations? Do the brand guidelines call for a pink poodle mascot? Be sure these are listed as objectives in your website design brief. Don’t assume that the outsourced agency will automatically know these things, especially if you are outsourcing to an agency in another country where the trends that define design and development may differ.

Some other very important (and very useful) resources to include in your brief:

  • Sitemap – A sitemap is a list of website’s pages that will be accessible to users, typically organised in a hierarchical fashion. This is essential to include in your brief, as it allows the agency to get a good look at the size and complexity of the project up front, ensuring that your client gets exactly what they want from their site. It will benefit you greatly to spend some time working this out with the client before briefing another agency, unless, of course, you are looking for external consulting or strategy services to assist with this step.
    Example here

  • Wireframes – A wireframe is a basic visual representation of the elements of a website or webpage, typically used for planning a site’s structure and functionality. Think of it as the website’s blueprint. Wireframes can be as simple as a drawing or sketch (via wireframe software if you have access to it) and shouldn’t depict any design that could be distracting. With a good wireframe design, the expectations should be clear to all parties involved before the project begins, so there are no hidden surprises.
    Example here.

WHAT budget is available?

As an agency briefing work to another agency, your budget expectations need to be fair; the people you’re outsourcing to have to make a living too, so ensure that you’re clear on what you are willing to spend in order to not waste your (or their) time. Remember that if you live in a country with a strong currency, there is always the option to outsource website design to countries where the exchange rate is in your favour. If nothing else, it’s an option that gives you good value for money.

WHY does your client want it?

Make sure you and your client define an objective for the project you want to outsource, this is the core of the project itself. In order to make sure that the freelancer or agency stays aligned with the deliverables, the project’s objectives need to be front and centre. Is the purpose of the project to sell products or build brand awareness? Does the client want to generate leads or grow a community? The answer to these questions will determine many key elements required for design and development, and if you or the client are not able to define the ‘why’, your outsourcing agency certainly won’t be able to. Including a clear objective in your brief will help to develop a product that delivers far more value for your client and their business.

HOW does your client want it done?

HubSpot? Umbraco? Wordpress? Joomla? Some clients have very specific ideas about what platform they want their sites built on, and others couldn’t care less – as long as it works. The ones who specify a desire for a certain content management system (CMS) often do so for many reasons, and not always because they’re the ‘right’ choice. They might be required to use one chosen by a parent brand, they could have an interest in a particular product offering, or they might be familiar with a certain CMS. It is important for you to understand and communicate these requirements to your chosen outsourced agency at the outset, in order to see if they are a good fit for your project.

WHEN does your client want it done?

To avoid any chance of conflict, be sure that you, your client and the agency you’re outsourcing to agree to a realistic deadline for the launch. Is there a product launch happening that ties into taking the website live? Do you have a media campaign booked that will drive traffic to the new site? These dependencies are important to share with the agency you are outsourcing to. If your client hasn’t set a definitive date, you should still consider giving your outsourced agency a deadline so that they can tell you whether or not it’s feasible.

If you’re considering outsourcing any part of a digital marketing strategy to another agency, download our free guide, Effectively Scale Your Digital Agency – Outsourcing and Offshoring Your Inbound Marketing, for everything you need to know.

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