The Importance of Website Specification Documentation
When planning a new website it is critical both you and the developers have a clear idea of business needs before start.
Having an agreed document, which includes specifications and objectives, together with agreed actions and noting who is responsible for different tasks reduces the likelihood of misunderstanding and misinterpretations. The more details included about how the site will work for the user the better.
To ensure that everyone is on the same wavelength when designing a new website, an in depth discussion needs to take place before and throughout the whole design process. Expectations must be noted down at the very start of the project, along with any problems that the client has with their existing website. By identifying the aims and objectives of the client at the outset, and the client understanding the website building process, you will be off to the best possible start, with everyone understanding the other’s point of view.
From the initial meeting, by drawing up a list of requirements and tasks the website agency has a document it can refer to and develop into a specification document. The client can sign off on this, after asking any questions or identifying any possible problems, which may have been incorrectly missed off or misunderstood. Doing this before the website is built saves everyone time and stress.
When the project is complete the website can be checked against the specification document, and any subsequent debates with the client about the design can be checked against what was agreed in writing.
Document Specifications are Essential to Successful Website Projects
Producing a specification document helps by:
- Improving Communication – It is vital for everyone involved in building the website to know exactly what is going on and what the client expects. From those who sell the initial idea, to the designers who will make the website look great to the coders who make it work and the copywriters who provide the content; everyone must know what the aim of the website is, so it’s successful. Having a specification document means the information is available for everyone and eliminates guesswork or constant repeating of information between personnel.
- Increasing Customer Satisfaction – Customers will want certain features to work in ways which will suit their business, so it is imperative that designers understand why such features are seen as important to the client. Sometimes the website agency will have better ideas to achieve the same outcomes, based on experience, or need to suggest alternatives owing to time or cost considerations. Discussing such issues is an important part of the website build and as the website agency knows more about the design of websites than the client it is important that they know when to challenge the client about unrealistic expectations. Simply presenting a finished version of the website in the last meeting, without discussing why features have been altered or excluded, will cause frustration and a lack of customer satisfaction. If designers have to go away and alter the functionality after the unveiling of the final website, time will be lost along with money and the trust of the client.
- Making Scheduling Better - Agreeing the specifications enables you to break the site down into manageable chunks for costing and time allocation, so you know what the budget and timeframe should be to complete the website. This allows more accurate costings and an ability to explain to the client how much different features will cost and how long they will take to develop. Simply estimating is not good enough for either the client or the website agency. Adding in a contingency for the project is still advisable when using this method but clients will have the reassurance of ticking off milestones as the project advances.
Your Specification Documents Will Vary Due to Complexity
Considering the above, Splice Marketing believes that saving time by not having a specification document for your project can short sighted, and lead to additional costs and delays in the future.
For the average Splice Marketing project, our specification documents can take anywhere between 3 to 5 hours to put together, depending on the complexity of the project. Obviously, the more complex the project the longer the specification takes to write, but completing a full specification prevents a project from going over budget for both time and expenses.
Drawing up a document specification and agreeing all the points included in it may take time, but in the longer run it saves clients and agencies time, leading to a successful outcome and less stress for all parties.
Splice Marketing is one of the UK’s top online marketing and conversion companies, and work with clients from small local companies to multinationals corporations to improve their returns from their online marketing budgets.
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