How to write a good product design brief

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When writing a brief for anything, it is key to be thorough and provide as much detail as possible. However, when it comes to having a great idea and writing a good product design brief for it, this is even more crucial as it is setting key details which could make all the difference in the design process.

We’ve highlighted some top tips on how to write a good product design brief to help make the process a little easier.

1. Think of the end user

The most important thing to remember when writing a product design brief is that you should focus on the end user, and not the client.

You need to understand who your users are, what their needs are and how your product might aim to meet those needs. Having key customer profiles will help you to remember who the product is being designed for and will give the rest of the brief some focus.

Once you’ve pinpointed your users, it’s time to shine a light on the challenges they might encounter. This initial focus will help guide your brief and identify any necessary product innovation needed to address these issues. However, it’s important to refrain from outlining specific solutions too early in the process. This approach encourages creativity in the early stages of design, allowing for solutions and features to develop organically over time. By taking this approach, you can ensure that your product is not only innovative but also effectively addresses the needs of your users.

2. Explaining what and why is key

A good brief should outline what a problem is, why this is a problem and what a solution should do to solve this. However, a brief should not outline how a product needs to do this.

As mentioned above, it’s key not to dictate how an array of problems might be specifically solved too early on as this can stop the creative flow instead of allowing for interpretation. By highlighted a problem and what a solution should do, you are giving your team the power to get creative and start exploring different solutions to a problem.

This more often than not results in better products.

3. Outline deadlines and key outcomes

A project without a deadline and clear outcomes will always lack focus, regardless of whether it’s a design project or a written project. By setting a fixed deadline, you are applying a bit of pressure that keeps teams working towards a specific date and ensures they stay disciplined rather than going off on a tangent or taking too long.

A key tip for deadline setting is to set a deadline at the start that seems realistic and then add a 10-15% time as a buffer.

As well as having a deadline you need to make sure you have an idea of what you want to achieve and what the output should be. Of course, these deliverables will vary from project to project and be anything from producing a concept to producing a full working prototype.

Having clear outcomes allows for a clear destination for all team members and will ensure everyone understands what needs to be achieved by the time the deadline is met.

Being clear on what the deliverables will be in advance will avoid any confusion down the line. It does not need to stipulate what exactly what the solution will be or exactly what form it will take but should list general items like:

4. Keep it concise

A product design brief should be exactly what it says on the tin, brief. Whilst it is a document that is mean to guide, it is also meant to allow for interpretation and exploring.

When writing your brief be sure to keep it short and concise and be sure that it only includes key information that can be easily understood by those reading it.

You could include:

  • Outline of task
  • User overview including issues they face
  • How the issue is currently solved
  • How the product should solve it
  • Deadlines and expected outcomes

Writing an effective product design brief for product designers and manufacturers is key to ensuring you get the best possible concept or prototype at the end of it. Make sure you keep it concise, focus on the user and give manageable deadlines.