How to specify requirements for web design

Happy clients exist when their projects are delivered on time, on budget and their expectations are satisfied. In order to accomplish this, it is important to clearly define the scope of work and communicate effectively throughout the entire process. For these reasons, a comprehensive Discovery process is crucial to successful project management.

Project management delays usually occur when designers and developers have to stop work to seek clarification or decisions from their client. If the requirements were absolutely clear and all decisions made before design or development begins, then the project could be performed in the shortest amount of time and in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

Cost overruns usually occur when unexpected tasks are required that were not included or defined within the original budget or scope of work. So, it is important to anticipate all tasks and efforts that will be required within a project in order to budget appropriately.

Discovery should be consultative in nature. Web designers and developers need to ask direct questions, understand our client’s needs, analyze their problems and offer effective solutions. Many problems can be eliminated by reducing the complexity of the project.

Complexity can be reduced by limiting a client’s options or decisions. Instead of asking an open-ended question, What do you want, for example; it may be more effective to offer a client 3-5 specific choices and allow them to simply select from this set of options. For example, we can offer the a) Classic theme, the b) Contemporary  theme, or the c) Alternate theme. A pre-defined menu of options will allow clients to decide and clarify earlier in the process and allow the project manager to more effectively budget and allocate resources.

Project management plans should include all tasks associated with a project including:

  • Discovery (Consulting, Requirements Specification, Contracting, Modeling)
  • Planning (Information Architecture, Database Design, Use Case Development)
  • Project management (Client communication, Tasking, Reporting)
  • Design
  • Development
  • Quality Assurance
  • Delivery (Training, Documentation, Marketing, Launch)

It is important to identify all tasks required, assign specific people or teams to these tasks and charge the client for these tasks. If Quality Assurance, for example, is not budgeted then it is likely not to happen and the client is likely not to want to pay for it but will, nevertheless, expect it.