How to Write a Scope of Work for Designers

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Bozka Design

You can rarely fully predict what can go wrong when you start building your product.

For example, deadlines might be missed or you’ll have to hire someone else because your original team fails. So, any project and task need a guide, which will help both you and those who work with you get the desired outcome. That’s exactly why it’s crucial to create a Scope of Work (SOW) before even initiating anything.

Creating a Scope of Work is not a trivial task for anyone. Although writing SOW for engineers can be pretty straightforward, SOW for designers might be especially tricky because of the erratic nature of the design itself.


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How should you even start creating a Scope of Work for the design part of the project? This article is not going to give you the SOW template for all project types. Instead, it will focus on the things you should provide for the designers on different project stages to assure they have everything to create the best result for you.

Why Should You Bother With the Scope of Work?

No doubt SOW can improve the design process and outcomes and here’s why:

  • It helps the team to stay on the same page throughout the life cycle of the project;
  • Both parties will save time and nerves while working together due to the structured approach;
  • SOW will help designers in estimating your project more accurately, so you will be able to plan your budget better.

Documenting your tasks will not only protect you from being overcharged but might also save you in case of legal disputes if things go horribly wrong.

What Should the Scope of Work Include?

You might need to involve the design team on different project stages when you’re in the process of product development. That’s the reason why components of SOW can be altered depending on the matter.

In this article, we gathered some typical project types for product designers. We’ll describe the essentials you shouldn’t forget to provide when you create SOW for those projects.

Stage 1. You Have an Idea for Your Project

This stage of the project is the most uncertain, and it’s the hardest to create SOW for it. Explain an idea you have about the project to your designers: how you see it in your imagination. Any sketches and documents you have might be helpful. Besides that you have to specify:

Project type — do you want a website, mobile app, web app, etc.

Platform — what platform will be used for the task; for example Android or iOS for a mobile app

Note: if you are not sure about it, your designers and developers can advise you on the best solution once they’ll get the idea.

It’s also good to include:

Your business model — to design a viable product, designers should understand how it will work

Market analysis — unless you decided to assign this task to be made by your design department or agency, a prepared market analysis will help your designers in creating a competitive product

2. You Are at the Wireframing Stage

If you already know who your users are and have a clear picture of how they will be using your product, the next stage is creating wireframes. This is an essential step that will let designers optimize the creation of the user interface prototype later on. In order for the designers to start working on wireframes, you need to provide:

User’s personas — the description of the typical user, whom you create your product for

User research results — these might be interviews, competitors, user testing insights, analytics, etc.

User journey — the flowchart describing the process of user’s interaction with the product; steps you want your future users to take in the design and what they will interact with throughout their “travel”

3. Your Project Is at the Stage of Creating User Interface

User Interface (UI) goes along with UX. While UX designer is most concerned about the constructive part of our idea, the UI will get to work with the aesthetic part and appearance. For UI designer, to start working on your project you should provide:

Branding guidelines — your logo, colors, fonts, tone of voice, and other attributes that define your brand

Text and picture content– it’s best to add real content because adding lorem ipsum might only make the mockups look good yet, you’ll be disappointed when you see a real product

Wireframes (flow) — a “floor plan” without graphic elements, a basic for creating UI mockups

4. If You Need a Redesign or Feature Update

In case you need a redesign, a fresh new start for your released project, or if you are planning on updating certain features of your product, don’t forget to include these points:

The reasons for the redesign or update — they can be rooted in analytics (for example, low conversion) or based on any qualitative user research; make them clear for the designers and let them solve the problem

Analytics — quantitative information on how the current product is being used

The new strategy — if you already know which direction you should move in to solve the problems with your product, share it with designers

Current design — any source files, platform information, market analysis, branding, content and so on

So, here it is — a guide that will help you get your task done with less complication, concluded into 4 main points. Whatever it is you’re looking forward to creating with your designer team — now you have the list of essentials to add to your SOW for the main types of the project on any stage.

Good luck!