Design Brief strategies



Good morning all. I am wondering if anyone has come across a good resource for the creation of a design brief. I have devoted some time to this and believe i am more confused now than when I started. I want to be able to give my kids a few definitive pointers about the best way to do it. Any advice, pointers or information will be great


Hi Michael,
The Technology Studies syllabus has a glossary section at the end. In it, there is a detailed description of what exactly entails a Design Brief. It is copied below for your reference:

a design brief provides a succinct description of the design problem.
The design brief does not state the solution or describe a product to be
produced but should identify the scope, conditions and specifications
under which the design problem will be solved.
It may contain an outline of the context and include a description of the
needs of individuals or the community, or identified opportunities as well
as the design criteria that apply to the design problem.
Design briefs can vary in the amount of information they provide and
the way information is presented.

Thanks Michael, does this help?
Kind regards, Ben Webb


Hi Ben,

thanks for the information. It definitely confirms what I thought to be part of a design brief. The design brief has been the one mystery that has eluded me for a while. After seeing so many different versions of them written over the years, my thought was that there could be succinct writing model out there that we can give to the kids in the younger grades to build on from ready for senior. The more straight forward the better.

Thanks for taking the time to reply, it is really appreciated.




Hi Michael, this is a really important aspect, as the quality of the brief has a impact on how the students engage with the design challenge. I’ve often found the currency of the actual design problem is key, and I always try to partner with industry to set briefs where possible.


I’ll just share a discipline-specific perspective before sharing the simple brief format I use with my First Year students.

Professional Brief

In our industrial design course we use a detailed brief based on professional ID practice from Second Year onwards. It’s rare that clients supply designers with a fully articulated brief. More commonly designers write the brief after the initial meeting with their client and after they’ve done some preliminary research.

The brief is a binding agreement in this context but also a persuasive document which is why it includes a ‘designer profile’ and reiterates the designer’s understanding of the client and their business:

  1. Introduction
    Aims, objectives, purpose.
  2. Designer profile
    Specialisations, past accomplishments, etc.
  3. Client profile
  4. Problem statement
  5. Design criteria
  6. Design process
  7. Deliverables and quote
  8. Analysis
    Risks, benefits, limitations, mitigation issues
  9. Synopsis
  10. Client approval
  11. Terms and conditions

Beginners Brief

All of this detail is unnecessary for students just starting out. Instead for my First Year ID students we use a much shorter briefer focussed on framing the design problem and identifying goals.

  1. Background
    Brief overview of project stating user group, context, general type of product.
  2. Function
    We categorise functions as practical (utilitarian purpose), aesthetic (style, beauty, impact on the senses), and symbolic (meaning, social and individual). The idea is to make explicit that appearance has an impact on meaning and utility, i.e. a form/function dichotomy is simplistic because it omits symbolism.
  3. Design criteria
    We use a simple three-pronged list of criteria here: Must, Should, Must Not. This helps students distinguish between essential criteria and desirable criteria. Of course you can write all the ‘must nots’ as ‘musts’ if you wish but having a clear category of things to avoid helps students think about outcomes that would make the product unsafe or unsuccessful.

These First Year ID briefs are usually about a 1½ pages long and the students learn to write them after they’ve done a few design projects.


I met with some design teachers from Brisbane State High School on Monday and they asked me to share the template I use in my First Year ID classes so I’ll share it here too:

I think it’s important to note that this template was created for industrial design students and it’s likely some modifications would be necessary if students were to use it for other types of design projects. For example, you might replace the product-specific design criteria suggestions with more general ones or add some that are relevant for architectural, landscape, graphic design, interaction, and fashion approaches.

Let me know if you find the template useful.


Hi Andrew and Michael,
I have a background in Graphic Design and the template provided, especially the professional brief, is very similar to the way I would set out a design brief for clients. The design brief, I believe, is the most important because it is essentially the contract between the designer and the client. It enables the designer to communicate the scope of the job, iterate the needs and wants of the client and promote their skills and experience. It’s the document that both parties initially sign-off on, so must be thorough, clear and succinct.
Thanks for sharing,
Carol Flikweert


That’s terrific, Carol.

If you develop your own version of a brief template for your students would you be interested in sharing it here?


I am so pleased I popped in!
I am in the depths of re-writing our Year 9 and 10 programmes for this year and suddenly found myself here procrastinating. I find if I am the forum I can justify the wanderings.
Just today I was trying to think of strategies to use for helping students write a design brief, so you see, it appears my procrastination has been quite productive. Many thanks for the template, it is super helpful and I am sure my students will benefit from this. Of course I will modify it for the younger students but its definitely pulled me out of pickle. :slight_smile: