Web-Development Specifications: Part 1

Recapping from last week, we should have the following pulled together so far in our web site specifications development process:

  • We have a goal for the site something we’re moving all customers toward. And we’ve refined that goal based on what the customer’s state of mind is (i.e., what he/she is looking to do) when they land on our site.

  • We know what content and features to emphasize in the design of our site because we’ve quantified the state of mind most of our customers are in when they stop by.
  • We have an inventory of content and features that we already have and that we need to build.
  • We have an organization for those content and features – our logical buckets.

This week, we’ll focus on organizing our thoughts into a single document. Sit down at your word processor; create a new document; and type these headings within it:

    Business Model
    Purpose of Web Site
    Target Audience
    Metrics For Success
    Scope of Work
    Current Features, Content, and Functionality of Site
    Planned Features, Content, and Functionality of Site
    Proposed Site Map
    Design Requirements
    Technical Requirements
    Productions Schedule

We’re going to fill in the content under these headings, based on what we pulled together last week. Here’s an explanation of each one:

Business Model

It is just good business for you to understand how you currently (or plan to) make money with this site. It’s the gold standard against which you measure everything else. If what you are doing isn’t serving the business model, you need to change what you are doing (or the business model).

Purpose of Web Site

This where you put the goal(s) we developed last week. If this site is about selling widgets, then selling lots of widgets profitably is your goal.

Target Audience

This is where your “states of mind” stuff goes, plus any other qualities of the people who you want to come to this site.

Metrics For Success

If you build this thing, you got to have some way to determine if it is really doing its job. So what are the measures by which this site will be judged a success? Is it total sales? Total leads? Total downloads?

Scope of Work

Web development is really about managing three areas: content, design and technology. This is where you define who is responsible for each of those things. Are you going to supply the web-development firm with content while it needs to come up with the design and technology? Or is the design going to be handled by a third party? How about some component of the technology? You have to clearly define these areas or a web-development firm won’t be able to give you an accurate quote.

Current Features, Content, and Functionality of Site

Here is where you define how the site currently works and is set up. How many pages of content do you have? On what type of server is it hosted? Are there any programs or software that do certain mission-critical tasks? What are they written in? All these things tell the web-development firm what they are getting into if they try to port this content to another back end.

Planned Features, Content, and Functionality of Site

What do you want to add? This all is straight from your “what we need to build” section of your notes. Also, if you are getting content from an outside vendor, you need to say it here. Tell who they are, what they are supplying, and how it is getting to you. (Example: AccuWeather is sending us daily weather information for 12 cities, and it is coming in as text data that a PERL script reformats for the web site.)

Guess what? I’m out of space for this week. Tune in next week for part two.

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