7 Tips for a Detailed Specification Document

When planning a web design project, it’s important to lay out your plans so both yourself and your client are on the same page. A specification document will indicate a timeline and deadline for you to work to, so everyone knows where they are in the process. It will also benefit communication, leading to a smoother ride in producing the end result desired on both sides. Here’s 7 tips to help you create a detailed specification document.

Allocate time

Before you start, think about how much time you have to complete the project. With this in mind, consider how long you will be spending on your specification document that works with the budget you’ve been given. You want to spend enough time on the document to ensure that the project goes well, but not so much that you begin to lose time, money, and overall output quality. So, dedicate an appropriate amount of time to it in relation to the total hours you plan to spend on the project.

Be prepared

Before you get carried away with the finer details, think about how you visualize the finished product, make up some sketches and wireframes, and produce a rough outline of the projected website. With this blueprint you will be able to begin specifying a route forward in making it all happen.

Start from the top

Common sense is to start where the user will start – on the homepage – and as your homepage will be linking to all your other pages, create some wireframes for this page before you do anything else, so you are even more aware of what’s needed on the whole.

Understand what’s required

Sometimes you will be given the task of redesigning an existing website. In this scenario, as with all scenarios, it’s important that you have a good understanding of what is needed, taking a good look at the existing website and getting a good grasp of each page and link, so you can then either replicate this information or provide a more advanced solution with the new website.

Don’t leave anything out

It’s important that everything is outlined in your document (heavy emphasis on ‘everything’). Don’t leave anything to be decided later – it will eat up time, and slow down your project, as well make it more difficult to visualise the end result. If your document is missing anything, ask the client asap, so you can fill in the blanks together.

Save yourself from backpedalling

Make sure you can fulfil your promises to your client before you make any ‘confirmed’ decisions. Ensure that everything you’ve put forward in your specification document is achievable, looking at the website’s functionality options to ensure it’s possible. This will save you from any backpedalling later on if you’ve prematurely misjudged anything.

Avoid the jargon

Try not to overwhelm your client with jargon they’re not going to understand. It’s unlikely they have as much knowledge as you on the subject, and you are likely to alienate them. Instead, write your specification document in layman’s terms, ensuring everything is clear and easy to digest. With this approach you can avoid any misunderstandings that may crop up later on.

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