A website specification document (or brief) is one of the most important starting points of any web development project. We like to think of this as the blueprint to constructing a house. You would never build a house without a well considered blueprint. The same goes for your website.
The following are 9 key steps to creating a perfect website brief:
Briefly organize the activities of your organization. This serves as a background for the project. Information should include a history of the organization, the size of the workforce, products and services offered, any and all achievements, and so on.
Goals & Objectives
When creating a website brief, it is also important to outline the purpose and goals of creating the website. With this information at hand, you can determine the particular approach that should be used in the website development process.
A website for creating awareness will be different from an eCommerce website. Rather than simply taking a look at industry benchmarks, it is always advisable to take gauge what is current and modern, and then take those ideas and see how you can improve upon them.
Who are you trying to reach? Identifying the target audience is important since these are people your website needs to appeal to. Your target audience includes potential customers and clients, existing customers and clients, potential employees, as well as members of the press. After identifying your target audience, the next thing is to build your website in such a way that it will be able to do “what the audience wants to do” as well as “what you want the audience to do.” This is the user path and it’s important to lead a user down the right funnel towards the ultimate goal.
By determining the budget upfront, you will be able to talk turkey with the right agency. Make sure you understand the budget, what you are getting, and find the right team (experience counts big time!) to build your website. Also, don’t be afraid to share you budget. Many times, even if your budget is low, there are options.
Just as budget, the schedule is crucial as well. Many people do not fully understand how long building a quality website takes. A professional website is more than just pictures. And a good website is more than just a fancy theme. Find a team that understands how to build quality websites that are quick and easy to use. Make sure you set a realistic deadline.
The scope of the project is usually apparent from the project objectives. However, details are critical here. If you can provide additional details in the project scope, it will paint a more complete picture.
If the website is meant for selling products and services, an eCommerce solution may be the perfect answer. If you are presenting your services or company, a beautiful professionally-created website is the way to go.
Gather any relevant or helpful materials like brochures, logos (always get vector files), product photos, and so on that may be required during the web development process. Collecting all this information up front can speed up the project significantly once it begins.
You should have a good understanding of your site architecture from the onset. It can change, of course, but it serves as a starting point.
If you have the content ready, that’s also a huge time-saver later on. It’s very valuable for designers and developers to review content before creating a website. Getting your content in a document that you can pass along early on is important.
Design References & Competitors
It’s very helpful to provide a list of websites that you like and/or dislike. This serves a baseline during the design process to work towards creating your website.
In addition to design preferences, it’s also very important to provide a list of your top competitors. That way, we can see what they are doing, find ways to improve, and ensure you website stands out.
In the end, your website specification document will serve as a guideline for design and development of your website. With this in hand, you will be able to create a functional website that meets your goals and appeals to your target audience.