If you’re about to get someone to build a website then this article is just for you!

Every web project starts with a plan. A document that outlines the details of what is required. Some people call this document a brief and others a specification. Maybe it’s a British thing, but I’m used to calling this a Specification (or Spec).

We all know how important a good plan is. If we jump into something as complicated as building a website without a plan, we can get lost and burn our budget. We don’t want to do either!

A lot of people are skeptical about the web design and development industry. There are many stories of unfinished projects and suppliers who never finish the job. We get a lot of sites half-finished.

There are many reasons this can happen, but one of the best ways you can reduce the risk of a project failing is by writing out a killer spec.

A good spec leaves enough room to be inventive but is strict enough to set some clear parameters.

This is an art and a science.

It’s why I’ve recently finished writing an eBook guide on how you can write a specification and what you should include in it. This will help you:

  • Find competent suppliers
  • Save money
  • Complete projects on time and on budget.

If this sounds like a good idea to you then click here to buy the guide for $20.

An Example Spec

A good specification is used by a supplier to provide an accurate cost for your project.

Here is an example specification we have used in our guide. It’s for an ecommerce development project.

You can use this as a basis for building your own specification. In our guide we break down the preparation required to understand your requirements, know what to include and not include and how to set your expectations on skills and price.

We go through common costs for projects and why they can differ so much.

Use the following web design brief to build your own. If you have any feedback on items you like to include but are missing from this, then join in the conversation in the comments at the bottom.

Brief

We are looking for a new design and development of our e-commere website. We have an existing site and branding. We want to refresh this and have specific integrations we need to work.

Business Overview

We are a 10 year old retail business based in Brighton, UK. We have a bricks and mortar shop and have been trading online for 2 years. We have seen significant growth in our online sales this last year in particular.

We have a team of 6 people. This project will be managed by Tom, Alice and Hassan are the two Directors in the company who will sign off on all work.

Current Website

We have previously worked with another company based abroad called InfoTech Ltd.

We have reached the limit of their expertise now we have grown and have more specialised business requirements.

Current Site: https://brightonshirts.com
Current Platform(s): Shopify, VendHQ Inventory

Our Goals

We are looking to grow our online business by increasing sales and reducing the manual work involved. Specifically :

  • Increase our Traffic
  • SEO, increase rankings, authority page for art-inspired gifts.
  • Improve user experience through ease of use and few clicks to buy.
  • Emphasise the values of our brand, generate interest and excitement.
  • Provide reliable and secure customer journeys.
  • Landing pages that maximise conversion.
  • Increase our Overseas sales
  • Setup reliable ongoing maintenance of our site
  • We find the current site is hard to update, slow and requires too much manual work.

Responsibilities / Team

Below you can see the responsibilities yet to be confirmed (TBC). We are looking for a supplier who can take on these responsibilities listed below.

– Functional Specification — TBC
– Site Architecture / User Experience — Us
– Design — Susan Cregg Designs Ltd.
– Content— Us
– Configuration — TBC
– Development — TBC
– Ongoing — TBC

Site Architecture / User Experience

  • Home
  • Shop
  • Product Pages
  • Pages:
  • About Us
  • T+Cs
  • Privacy
  • Contact
  • Custom Landing Page
  • News (Blog)
  • Posts

Design

We want to to continue to use our branded creative. Our designer Susan Cregg has produced PSDs from which we want to build the website.

She has produced designs for the following sections:

  • Kitchen Sink Design Page of most common elements
  • Home page
  • Shop
  • Product Pages

We are happy to use default structures with our stylings for elements not covered, such as the cart and checkout pages.

Content

Some filler content should be added to the page templates. We will add and curate all content on the site. We will be adding all content, so please use filler text if no text supplied from designs and we can replace this.

Please include an example of each page template, department pages, and product pages.

Functionality Requirements

  • New design with responsive layout
  • Faster site speed
  • Better integrations with:
  • Our accountancy system
  • Our warehousing system
  • Software
  • We have identified WordPress and WooCommerce as suitable platforms, but are open to your feedback.
  • Hosting / Domains
  • We currently use ACME brand are interested to move to a faster host with staging site functionality.
  • SSL – We are looking to purchase an SSL certificate

Configuration Information

  • Payments
  • Payments will be processed entirely by a secure, dependable 3rd party payment gateway which manages all payment off-site enabling simple compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). The shop currently makes use of WorldPay, however we are open to considering Stripe (specifically stripe.js, for PCI DSS purposes).
  • Inventory Sync
  • Currently the site uses Vend Inventory.

QA / Feedback

We expect the designer and developer to test the site on multiple devices and screen sizes. We will then provide a round of feedback for items that do not correspond to what we have agreed.

Timeframes

  • Deadline to reply: 1st June
  • Award Contract: 7th June

  • Dates for completion: August

  • Flexibility: We need to be live and prepared for Christmas peak in seasonal traffic. Therefore no later than mid-September.

Budget

  • Range: £7000 – £9000 (inc Vat)
  • Ongoing: £100 per month for hosting, domains and SSL. We would expect to require one day every few months for updates.

Communication / Sign off

  • We use Basecamp to manage our projects and would like our suppliers to use this as well.
  • We would like weekly standup meetings where we will discuss the progress of the project.

Ongoing Expectations

  • Going Live
  • The supplier will manage the transition to the new site at an agreed time & date. The supplier will implement a considered 301 redirect mapping of pages from the old site to the new, and rectify any gaps that might be apparent on having moved to the new site.
  • Ongoing maintenance / support
  • We are interested in an ongoing package to update the site, maintain security and fix any new bugs.
  • Training
  • We would like to book in half a day of training
  • Ongoing communication
  • We expect regular email communication and a weekly stand up meeting to go through progress.

Replying to Spec

  • Our choice criteria
  • Understanding of the project
  • Proven expertise in retail website development and e-commerce
  • Familiarity with the UK retail sector
  • Extensive and current experience in providing web hosting and support services
  • Extensive and current experience in working effectively with small and medium sized retail businesses
  • Effective project and business planning skills as demonstrated by a realistic and viable initial outline budget for the project

  • Case Studies

  • Please include background material to demonstrate the previous experience and range of work of the consultant(s) and of the specific personnel proposed for the work. This can include descriptions and examples of previous relevant work in the form of case studies.

  • Please provide a breakdown of the days work involved and your day rate