As designers, we sometimes get unexpected design requests from our colleagues. These requests can come through Slack, email, or even during a casual conversation by the water cooler. The number of these requests can vary depending on the collaboration models that you have implemented.
As a designer, I hesitate to start a project without some necessary details. It is crucial to clearly understand the task before diving in. Unfortunately, the common occurrence of a “casual design request” can hinder this process. It is important to approach each project with mutual respect and view all parties as equal contributors. Ensuring requesters back design requests with thoughtful intention is vital to a successful outcome.
Getting in sync is our priority.
At the start of a project, it’s important for both the requester and the designer to be on the same page and work together seamlessly. This collective awareness is the foundation for success and ensures clarity, allowing everyone to perform at their best; understanding what we are doing, for whom, and why is crucial for achieving this goal.
Sometimes, it isn’t easy to achieve alignment. If you work for a large tech company, you might have encountered the “one-pager.” It’s a brief that can be problematic; it takes a long time to produce (ironically, it is rarely ever one page) 😄 and may not be well thought-out, incomplete, a WIP forever, or even too prescriptive.
A brief should clarify, not dictate the solution.
Yet, this misstep is not uncommon. Worse still are instances where there’s no brief or when an ask is communicated verbally during a meeting with no other documentation. We don’t always need a novella to start, but clarity and a basic foundational understanding? Absolutely.
Introducing the “Tiny Brief.”
Designed to address ten crucial areas vital for clarity before embarking on a design project, it ensures thoroughness without overwhelming requesters. Think of it as a streamlined version of a traditional brief, ready for you to implement immediately.
Inspired by casual design request scenarios, I made the “Tiny Brief” – a concise yet comprehensive guide to help you achieve clarity before starting a design project. This tool covers ten essential areas and is designed to assist without overwhelming you. Consider it a simplified version of a regular project brief, which you can use immediately.
We must continuously innovate and refine our methods as we strive for progress. With that spirit, I welcome your feedback on further enhancing the Tiny Brief.
Title/Name of the Project
Please provide a name for this project. A thoughtful title will help everyone quickly identify and discuss the task.
Who is initiating this request? Are there other teams or individuals involved? Who will approve the final work?
Why is this work essential? Briefly outline the events or reasons leading to this project.
What goals or outcomes should we aim for? Define the primary objectives of this work or design.
Who is the intended audience or user group for this project?
Key Use Cases
Outline the main use cases and scenarios this work should address.
Please let us know if there are any necessary components, such as text or visuals, that we must include.
Context & Influences
Are there previous projects or history in this domain we should know? Share any influential designs, products, or visuals. Also, indicate if this work intersects with other product areas or projects.
Highlight any guidelines, limitations, or critical requirements we must adhere to.
Timeline & Milestones
Share your preferred deadline. We’ll also offer our estimate, but knowing your expectations helps. Specify any review phases or milestones if applicable.
“Jess’s Tiny Brief is simple to use and captures all essential information for smooth project handoffs.”
Product Designer, Zendesk