I’ve authored, edited and reviewed several design briefs, which proved to be very useful for:
- Establishing some boundaries to the design challenge we are trying to address;
- Giving some high level direction, so that Software Architects and the Development Team can start working on the implementation even without other design documents (like wireframes or Conceptual Design Documents);
The Design Brief document can be one of the deliverables of a User Experience Team’s Discovery phase. The intent of Discovery is to research and describe the problems and challenges that need to be solved by: identifying who are the users we are designing for, what scenarios we need to address, and what tasks are necessary to carry out those scenarios. The purpose of this document is not to propose design solutions to those problems. The issues described within this document may span multiple users/roles and even applications, and no particular style of user interface should be assumed. Here is the information I’m usually trying to consolidate on a Design Brief:
This section of Design Briefs captures the direction for this User Needs derived from a product road map. Include any information pertinent to readers of this document to show that it is meeting the business goal. Usually written collaboratively with Product Managers.
The personas here are not an exact copy of a Product Requirements Document’s personas, but rather a selection of the specific personas that will be used for the upcoming design. More specifically, we should be looking that the social interactions of personas for which the product is targeted.
Social Interaction of Personas
Workers’ Interrelations and Relationships often involve multiple categories of organizational roles and outside stakeholders. The cultural characteristics of our personas’ social worlds can pose key challenges and opportunities for product teams as they attempt to outline appropriate and compelling design strategies. The questions we’re trying to answer here are:
- How could our insights into the connectivities and qualities of our targeted personas’ relationships shape our application concepts?
- How might our product usefully and meaningfully reflect these social realities?
What Customers are Doing Today
These are the current customer workflows or other activities that are being improved, adjusted, re-engineered, or generally impacted by the proposed feature. Here we describe findings from user research that has already been conducted for a feature or product, as well as user research and usability studies that have been conducted for related features or products that can inform the upcoming design.
User Experience Vision
Have we considered divergent approaches to defining the design challenge at hand? Are there unexpected and emergent uses of technology we should support? Are we anticipating ways to help users do things easier, faster, and smarter by proposing new mental models? This is a design vision in response to the design challenge, which does not depend on a design solution. This vision section of Design Briefs can result in multiple design solutions and does not derive from a single design option.
Design Challenge Description
This section of Design Briefs is the answer you would give when someone asks you what design challenges we are trying to solve. This is just like an elevator pitch. Use one or two sentences only.
Users Needs Addressed
Which user needs are we choosing to address and not address in this version, feature, product? This section of Design Briefs should describe the user goals that the solutions to upcoming design should address. For example, “Users need to feel confident that they will be able to complete an entire design with this tool.”
Innovation Opportunities and Drivers
Have we considered divergent approaches to defining the design challenge at hand? Are there unexpected and emergent uses of technology we should support? Are we anticipating ways to help users do things easier, faster, and smarter by proposing new mental models?