How to Write a Killer Project Brief

29.11.2016 |

Episode #8 of the course How to build an online business by Crew


Alright! This is what we’ve been waiting for.

You’ve got an idea for an online business. You know your approximate budget and timeframe. You know what kind of digital product you’re going to make and the people you’re going to be working with.

Now what? It’s time to start building. But like any form of construction, you’re going to have to start out with a clear guide of what needs to be done.

In the product world, we call this a project brief.


How to write a good project brief

From the moment you come up with the idea for your product, you’ve already created the beginnings of a project brief in your head.

You can think of your brief as the training plan that will get you to the finish line. It might not list every single step you take, but it’s what you’ll return to whenever you’re not seeing the results you want.

And it’s not just for you. Your brief should be shared with the people you’re working with so they can know the overall vision of the project, how you imagine it working, and what needs to be done to get it there. Without a clear set of expectations from the get-go, you have no reason to complain when things don’t happen as you envisioned them.

A project brief can vary from a brief outline to a detailed document. Which option you go with largely depends on the level of control you’d like to have in the creation process, but here are the two main choices you have.

Give more creative control with a “loose” brief
If you want to give more control to the people you’re working with on the project, it can be helpful to create a project brief that encourages trying different routes rather than narrowing in too much on a specific direction.

For example, when we redesigned the homepage for our website,, we went with a loose project brief because we wanted to try a different design concept than any of the options we had previously considered. Here’s an example of a loose brief.

A “tight” project brief gives less creative control
Sometimes, you might be building something where you have a clear idea of how the product should be built, either because of similar past projects, input from customers, or data you’ve come across. In this case, giving too much creative control with a loose project brief might not be the best option.

In this situation, a more focused project brief would likely be helpful to provide the clearest direction for the professionals working on the project. The goal of a project brief for this type of project is to share the knowledge you have so the people working on the project have the right insights to execute on your vision. Here’s an example of a tight brief.

Once you’ve nailed your project brief, it’s time to start building. Tomorrow, we’ll go over how to manage the project, and more importantly, how to be a good project manager.

Until tomorrow,


Recommended reading

How to handle communication breakdowns like a pro


Recommended book

“Business Model Generation: A Handbook For Visionaries, Game Changers, And Challengers” by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur


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