If you need a new website developed, you will probably have a good idea of what you want your site to look like and how you want it to function.
However, if you do not get your vision for your website across to a web developer, it is unlikely that you will get what you want.
One of the biggest causes of late delivery and cost overruns in website development projects is a lack of communication, and the way to avoid that problem is to prepare a detailed specification for your new website.
But what will a web developer need from you to deliver your perfect websites on time and within your budget? Here are ten essential points that you need to cover in the website specification you give to a web design company.
Table of Contents
The best web design agencies like to work in partnership with their clients.
So, before they even begin to think about your website design, they will want to know more about your business.
The first thing you need to have in your website design spec is some background information on your company.
The type of information that will be useful includes what your business does, how large your company is, your objectives, and who your competition is.
Broad Outline of Requirements
The next step is to outline your requirements broadly.
In this section, you will describe the nature of your website and your goals.
Is your website an eCommerce site, is it a static corporate site, or is it a blog? Your goals might be to generate online sales, attract subscribers, or encourage visitors to contact you or request quotations.
This broad outline will help a web design agency decide what platform to use to develop your site and what functionality you will need.
Explain Your Brand
Branding is everything in today’s crowded online space.
And to be effective, branding must be unique and consistent across all platforms and mediums.
Your logo and corporate color schemes will need to be supplied to your web designer if you already have them.
It will be useful also to include a description of your brand personality and your target audience.
This information will help your web developer create a website that will be appealing to your target market.
List Specific Functionality Required
The best web designers will work closely with you on your project and are likely to suggest functionality that they think you will need.
But it would be best if you get the ball rolling with a functionality list of your own.
It is advisable to take your time with your functionality list and go into some detail.
Stating that you want an ecommerce site is a start.
But what payment methods do you wish to accept on your site? Do you want to allow users to create wish-lists or favorites pages? Will there be a need for customers to personalize products the products they order? The more detail you put into your website specification document, the less risk there will be any misunderstandings or omissions.
Detail Your Proposed Sitemap
The essential pages of a business website will be apparent.
You will need a home page, a contact page, and about us page, and a terms and conditions page.
Even so, it would be advisable not to take it for granted that a web design company knows what is standard in your industry.
For example, you might need case studies, downloadable technical manuals, or other resources that are not common on every website.
So, list all the pages you expect to see on your website on a draft site map.
Who Will Provide the Content?
Most web designers will have content writers they can call upon if needed.
But, using external content writers will, of course, add to the cost of your website.
On the other hand, if you opt for writing the content yourself, you will need to make sure that you have the time available to complete the task.
Define who will be responsible for content creation and set up a content writing timetable.
Web developers can use dummy content during the development of a site.
Even so, you don’t want the content to be the final thing that holds up your website’s launch.
Provide Examples of Similar Sites
You want to avoid creating a clone of a competitor’s site.
However, referring to other websites in your website specification can help illustrate what you need, and it could give you some new ideas as well.
It will also help you with your search engine optimization if you know which keywords competitors are targeting.
Identify Decision Makers
Your web designer will need to know who in your team is authorized to make decisions regarding your site’s design, and you will need to identify who has the authority to sign off on completed phases of the development.
It can be advantageous to get team members’ input during the design phase of a business website.
But you do not want your web design company to be pulled in different directions by different representatives of your company.
Your website specification document should clearly state the deadline for the website to go live.
Your web development company will then come back to you with the feasibility of hitting that date and the milestone dates that will need to be achieved along the way.
If the go-live must be cast in stone, this should also be communicated to the web designer.
When working on a launch timetable for your website, don’t forget to allow time for you and your employees’ workloads and holidays.
If your web designer cannot get answers to their questions quickly, it may delay your website’s launch date.
People often hold back on divulging their budget for software and web development projects because they believe it will strengthen their negotiation hand.
However, in a competitive bidding situation, telling suppliers what how much you have to spend can be useful to both sides.
If a web designer knows what you expect to pay, they won’t waste your time suggesting features you can’t afford.
They will, though, try to give you the maximum value for your money so that you choose them over their competitors.
Once you have selected a web designer, then the budget and payment terms will, of course, need to be stipulated in the contract between the two parties.
The takeaway from the above is that the more time you put into your website specification, the better the outcome will be.
Specifying your requirements in detail will help avoid confusion and disputes with your web designer and the costs and delays that come with those issues.
And a detailed design spec will help you get the website that you envisaged.