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Preparing a Communication Brief

An effective way to make sure you understand what someone has said to you is to repeat it back to the person clearly and concisely. In addition to being the basis for understanding the overall tone, goals, and direction of a project, the Communication Brief (also called the Creative Brief) restates the client's wishes by organizing the answers from the Client Survey. List the overall site goals in the Communication Brief. This will serve to align both the team and the client under the same terminology. With everyone talking the same language and working toward the same goals, the project has an excellent chance of staying on target.

Take thoughtful time when preparing the Communication Brief ([3.7] is a generic sample) because you and your team will be referring to it throughout the project, but don't sweat over it for weeks. It is a short and simple statement of site objectives, from overall goals to targeted audience to end-user perception. It should identify — among other things — style, audience, and message. In addition, the Communication Brief sets the project's tone (how people should perceive the site and the company).

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none 3.7 This sample communication brief has been abbreviated in its printed form here. Both Audience B and Audience C received as much of a description as Audience A. Your communication briefs should do the same for all your target audiences.

The Communication Brief should articulate visual and conceptual goals for the new site, both independent of and in comparison to the existing site. This document should be nonvisual — no sketches or layouts — and it should be short (only one to two pages) to ensure that it actually gets read. It can be as informal as an email or formal enough to be included in a bound report. No matter the form or format, it needs to be client approved. Get it signed.

Pull information you need from the answered Client Survey and from your various meetings thus far with the client. Use the Communication Brief Worksheet to get started. Further questioning may be necessary.

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