The project specification for the development of a website is, perhaps, the most difficult but also the most important step in creating a site. It is a headache for most customers. At least because they do not (and should not) know their way around all the technical details.
We don’t write specifications for car manufacturers. We just choose things like colour, trim and options. The good news is writing a project specification for site developers can also be reduced to choosing options. Almost.
The main objective of a website specification is to minimize possible differences in understanding of the tasks by the customer and the developer. Experienced developers only need a descriptive specification from their client, so they can expand it into a more detailed and technical one to send it back for approval.
The way your website will look and feel depends primarily on you. If you clearly define how you will be using your site, its primary purpose, it will be easier for you to note its structure (main pages, sections, subsections, and so on). Then, when you do have an idea about the purpose and structure, you can already write a descriptive website specification.
Start with a general description of your future site and its main purpose, such as the sale of goods or the presentation of a brand on the internet. Then write out all the features that you need. For example, in the case of an online store, those would be product lists, shopping cart, orders, customer registration, etc.
Having described the basic functionality of the site, follow on to the extras – individual static pages (About Us, Contacts, etc…), blogs, forums. Don’t forget to mention common functionality like “share” buttons for social networks, search, lists of new and popular materials or goods.
The next important step is describing internal functionality. You do not need to know about the latest technological innovations, but for any modern website it is very important to include in the project specification such items as security, speed, responsive design, compatibility with high-density screens (like Retina displays), semantic markup, meta data and SEO management. You do not need to understand any of this, but it should be taken into account in your website specification.
Your site will, of course, need a visual design. If you have a model layout or a full design ready, write in your project specification that you require responsive layout compliant with the latest web standards. But today it is more expedient to use a paid professional template from a reliable developer – it greatly simplifies and reduces the cost of the process. Even if you won’t use templates, take a look at the best ones. They will help you assemble your own pages or correct your designer’s suggestions.
Putting it all together
Before the site can be constructed and experienced you’ll need some initial content. At least the project description and text for the main pages. In the case of an online store you’ll also need a few products for each category, with descriptions and photographs. If you prepare the content in advance and pass it to the developer in the beginning of the process, you will see your new site live quicker. Just don’t forget to mention initial content population in the website specification.
At this point your task is almost complete. You only need to find a competent developer. And your descriptive project specification will be your main filter in this search. Irresponsible people will simply agree with your description and say that they will do everything you ask. Professional, quality developers will not only do that, but will offer to discuss technical details and will send you a detailed specification based on yours in their understanding. And here, the only thing left for you to do is to make sure you both understand all the points the same way.