The requirements gathering phase of a web design project is critical to the success of any web based project. The importance of this document grows as the complexity of a site increases.
Think of a requirements document as the blueprint of a website. Every single feature and function that will be on the final site should be listed in this document.
Every website is different and often more complex than you can imagine. It’s not enough to say “just do what ‘insert popular website name here’ is doing. How long would it take you to go through a robust site and document all of the functionality? You probably wouldn’t catch everything either, especially without access to the backend.
Traditional website requirements focused on functionality and technical aspects of a site. Due to the evolving complexity of technology, modern website requirements document need to be much more in-depth.
Modern requirements include:
• Business requirements
• Functionality & IT
Develop a Requirements Document
Vivid Design Consultants, will submit a formal proposal that thoroughly describes the site we will build, and provides an exact cost, outline and schedule. We’ll outline each section of the site and most importantly — describe the interactivity and functionality of the site in exacting detail. This is a time-consuming, but valuable exercise because it provides a roadmap for our developers and it should make you more confident that we understand your business needs. Once we’re both happy with the terms of the project, we’ll begin
Establishing a Project Plan
Our team will sit down with you (at your office or ours) to review the roadmap for the project. You’ll have one project manager who will guide you through the entire process. We can communicate via phone, email, in-person meetings or via the web with our project management software. And, we’ll also establish a web hosting solution that specifically meets your company’s needs.
Website Project Estimate
Most clients will get a rough estimate or estimate range before the Definition phase but this rough estimate may change based on what is discovered during this initial round of investigation. For example, initially the client may have mentioned a website designing companies “search” feature and this was initially assumed to be a basic, out-of-the-box feature. But during the Definition phase, the team discovers that the client wants additional functions that will customize the search results in specific ways. The “search” feature may now jump from 3 hours of effort to 100 hours of effort, thereby changing the project estimate. Once the Definition phase is complete, a much more accurate estimate can be generated.
We study Clients Requirement on different perspectives
The best requirements gathering involve the entire team, both agency and client. You must define the site’s purpose. Is this an e-commerce site? A brochure-ware style site? Or is your site driven by other unique functionality? What does the site do, and why?
When gathering website requirements it is generally accepted to focus on what is required of the site without constraints as to how it will be done. The leading business requirements will be outlined first.
Business requirements include your main goals and how to implement them. Let’s look at this example of business requirements for a trade show model staffing company website:
• Staff models
• Recruit models
• Model management database
• Social media
In this example everything is driven by the company’s desire to staff models. To staff models you need to have models. This is handled through a model management database. Research revealed that the software to perform the required duties did not exist, so a custom system with its own functionality requirements was designed and programmed.
Functionalities & IT
After business requirements are gathered functionality requirements must be defined. Programmers or IT are typically involved to help define server and application issues, accessibility, database, platforms, mobile use, technology and programming choices.
In our example, a database of over 10,000 members and a large number of variables per member were required. Analytics revealed that a large percentage of visitors were coming from mobile devices so a mobile strategy was implemented. This in turn, influenced server choices, security, and other IT decisions.
Of equal importance is your documentation being available for testing. As many issues as possible should be resolved during the programming phase. Any gray areas should be hammered out with the client before too much time is spent possibly programming solutions that were not part of the client’s vision.
For example, a search for “Atlanta models” displays a far smaller percentage of actual Atlanta models available. What happened, did members not accurately enter where they lived or was something wrong with the system? A system review revealed that many models put the suburb of Atlanta that they actually lived in.
Two solutions were added to the requirements documentation to resolve this issue from happening in the future. The first was to add a data field “nearest major city,” which enabled models to rank in searches for those cities. The second was a zip code radius based search results.
Design & Site Architecture
After we have a plan for the web site, we will custom build several mock-ups for the site based on your input. The mock-ups are non-functioning graphical representations of what your site would look like. From the beginning we consider search engine optimization, browser compatibility, download times, usability and other technical issues. You will choose your favorite mock-up and provide feedback. Usually we perform two rounds of revisions with mock-ups.
Concurrent with the graphic design process, our project manager and web developers will be planning and setting up the architecture of your site and building the database schema. You’re welcome to be a part of this process, but you might find it agonizingly boring. Luckily for you, we love this stuff.
Modern requirements documentation should contain how you will meet your user expectations, how your site will express your brand, design consistency and user experience.
Usability may impact technologies used, content strategy, and design. As important as this step is, many flaws in your site may not be revealed until it is live and user testing has been conducted.
Usability was extremely important for our model-staffing agency and it was addressed in the requirements documentation. Key stakeholders were interviewed to learn more about their processes and how the new site could better handle them for the end-user.
Before programming, designers and usability experts created the interfaces and layouts, focusing on ease of use and user experience. Because there was an existing site, analytics were able to demonstrate that an improved user interface resulted in key metrics being improved through usability.
A final requirements document should be used to ensure every requirement and client expectation is met, that future growth is built on a strong foundation, and miscommunication is kept to a minimum.
Even if you already have a website, it’s not too late to create a requirements document and to continually test. Implementing best practices and choosing a partner with experience will help reduce the chance of usability errors, flaws in functionality, or emissions.
Expand your planning from traditional functionality and remember to document marketing and usability. When done correctly, you will have not doubts that requirements documentation was well worth your investment of time and resources.
Website Testing & Launch
When your site is designed and built, and you are satisfied with the finished product, we’ll test it thoroughly. We’ll perform any remaining site revisions then launch it to the world. We will work with you to promote your site among all the major search engines and websites related to your industry. We can also teach you how to maintain your site, or we can maintain it for you and bill you on an hourly basis for maintenance services. We will never just build it and forget about it. Vivid Design Consultants has grown quickly from word-of-mouth, so making you happy with the final product is the best thing we can do.