The key to any successful project is good planning and clear communication between all stakeholders about the project’s design objectives and requirements.
The best way to deliver that information is via a design specification document. But, what is a design specification exactly, and how does it help your projects?
Keep on reading to find out!
In essence, a design specification is the ‘blueprint’ of a project as it defines all the details and requirements for a given process or product.
However, to write a detailed design specification, the client has to conduct thorough research that covers every aspect of developing and maintaining a product or process, including technical drawings, ergonomic factors, functionality, and more.
On the other hand, the design brief provides the project’s outline to present its requirements, client wishes and limitations in an understandable way.
In general, the brief contains rough sketches or a skeletal outline since most of the creative freedom is left to the designer. The primary purpose of the design brief is to serve as a basic guideline for the project, setting the goals and constraints but without imposing specific requirements and details.
The design specification describes a product or process with precise and detailed information in several areas, and a standard product design specification checklist might include:
Note: The design specification also contains essential details about the materials used, environmental impact, performance, security, quality, and more.
The contents of the design brief and their level of detail can vary depending on the project. With that said, most design briefs cover the following areas:
Note: Certain designers differentiate between an open brief that allows for changes during the course of the project, and a closed brief with detailed and strict requirements.
Creating both a design brief and a design specification are important steps in the development process as they come with several valuable benefits:
Note: The above list includes some primary reasons for developing a design brief and specification. Depending on the specific project circumstances, additional benefits might also apply, such as minimising the legal risk, easier asset management, and more.
Now that you reviewed the differences between a design brief and specification, check out several design specifications examples to learn how to create one for your business if needed. Ultimately, they are powerful tools that guide your project and ensure all objectives and requirements are met within a given timeframe.
Since every project is unique, you cannot rely on a universal design brief template. Instead, adapt the checklist we provided above to your project’s needs and check out a design brief example or two to see how to write yours and if you need to include anything else.
First, you need to conduct exhaustive research about the product, so you are able to cover all of the items on the above checklist. You can also look for a design specification template that matches your needs to direct your research and writing.
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