E-commerce website brief

Hi all,

I want to prepare a website brief for an e-commerce website. Does anyone have a template or sample brief I could use?


Here is a good website that breaks it down:


If you need to write a brief, is it because your business has unusual website requirements that cannot be met by any of the many turn-key systems out there?

One of the great dangers of shopping around a brief, is that it will necessarily contain certain wishes that are still somewhat ambiguous in the absence of interface detail and specific functional requirements. As a result, you will find a great range of quotes coming back your way.

Secondly, depending on which quote you go with and the experience of the developer, there’s a high chance that a lot of discovery will occur during the build process and after you have already agreed to a price.

Your chosen developer will then start to feel the pain of under-quoting (a very common problem) and start to de-prioritise your work in a struggle to finish other simpler projects that will pay the bills and subsidise finishing your job.

I’m not scaremongering here. I’ve been in this business for 15 years, and this is without doubt one of the most common scenarios out there.

There’s two solutions:-

  1. Reconcile your needs with a turn-key system that uses templates that only need re-branding to meet your business needs. Low risk, low cost, but less flexible. That said, these days template based sites and designs can be very high quality, so there’s not necessarily any sacrifice involved.


  1. Approach you project in two parts:-
    a) User experience design
    b) Branding and build

In option 2, the idea is to begin by only engaging a vendor to provide advice and a wireframe prototype of what you want. This is something you can arrive at collaboratively and the intention is to use the wireframe to capture all the requirements you have in full detail, so nothing is left unmentioned. (There’s tools for making wireframe sites that make the process very quick and low cost to do.)

At the end of phase A you’ll have a detailed plan of the site structure, the elements on each page, and most importantly, annotation about how they are supposed to function.

Now you have enough detail for a fixed quote - so you can go to phase b) with much less risk. The rule then has to be anything you discover during development is deferred until the agreed work is delivered. Without a clear plan, the notion of “agreed work” is often very hazy, and therein lays the problem with the usual approach to custom built sites.

Hope that’s some help! If you need more advice, just ask :slight_smile: