Why a Business Website Specification is Vital

Always have a business website specification before work begins

Business Website Specification: This brief post should bring vast amusement to experienced website developers and business owners and managers. We've all been there - right? Well, almost all. A customer wants a website. As he discusses it with his/her developer, a wealth of hitherto unknown requirements and capabilities are exchanged, and notes are made.

More importantly though, an even bigger volume of business needs are simply not raised because the customer has not yet formulated and expressed his/her ideas. 

At this point, the website developer thinks he understands the customer and proceeds with the design. he/she may even include a couple of prototypes for the customer to choose from, and that helps a bit but not a lot for a complex business website -there's more to online business than looking good.

What is a Business Website Specification?

A Business Website Specification is a document agreed and signed off by the developer and the customer as the description of:

a) How the business website will look
  •  Colors: Corporate colors should complement logo
  • Layout: An example website may be used as an approximate guide
  • Images: quantity per page, supplier, customer supplied
  • Menus
  • Header content 
  • Footer content
  • Product images, price presentation, shipping methods and interfaces
  • Social media links
  • Blog options
  • Sidebar content
  • Galleries and sliders
  • Mobile specific changes e.g. omit some large items
  • Additional customer requirements
  • Special content sections - concertinas, sliders, delayed content and whatever the developer may offer or the customer requests.
  • Fonts

b) Business Website Pages
  •  Topic specific pages 
  • Page content (user content or commissioned content)
  • Page images
  • Page internal links to other pages and posts for SEO purposes
  • Page external links for SEO purposes
  • Additional customer requirements
  • Blog requirement - categories and display

c) Business Website Functions (User Business Website Specifications)
  • Shop functions - payments, similar products display
  • Contact forms and contact methods
  • Clickable links to other pages and other sites
  • Popups for email capture 
  • Popups for brochure and data sheet downloads - where and when these popups happen and how they look
  • Clickable contact links
  • Voice search options
  • Document download functions
  • Event Calendars
  • Appointments systems
  • Document uploads
  • Competitions

d) Hidden Website Functions (Technical Business Website Specifications)
  • Fast Caching options 
  • Image optimization
  • Security Options including SSL certificate
  • Google Pixel
  • Facebook Pixel
  • Other pixels

e) Onsite SEO
  • Meta data options for posts and pages  (snippets) and products
  • keyword optimization for content
  • Local or national business structure
  • Name Address Phone options for business structure
f) Training and Documentation and Support
  • User manual contents
  • Training hours
  • Warranties
  • Support contract.
f) Off Site Services and  Products that every website needs in some measure
  • Hosting - the host is where your website exists
  • Domain - your website domain is where it all begins
  • SEO - if you need your business website to rank on Google - you need SEO - links, guest posts, press releases and much more. Caveat Emptor! This is a field replete with scams so be really careful.
  • High quality Images
  • Social media pages and servicing
  • Social media advertising
  • YouTube Channel
  • Google my business page

At first, this looks like a lot to some customers who 'just want a website'!  But that's the problem, even a relatively simple business website is ultimately complex beneath its surface. Color is important, correctly placed buttons are important, content is important,  good servers are important, website speed is important, meta data is important - and so on. 

Clearly, a simple two page website is nothing like as complicated, but a business website can be very complex and without a business website specification the job will sometimes be half done to the client and completed in the eyes of the developer - "another 45 products? -  a popup to capture emails? - a maintenance manual? -  an email reminder for abandoned carts? - GST? Shipping system? logo? - the list of what can be overlooked is endless. 

Designer Reticence 

One of the problems in this field is designer reticence to specify a website properly. Many want to use cookie-cutters to keep costs down and others just assume they know what the customer wants. these are avoidable problems.

Customer Reticence

The owners owners and managers of medium to large sized businesses are most often the most informed and easiest to negotiate with. They understand that more functions cost more money and will pay for competent business website specifications, competent project management and a high quality end product.

Start-ups and solopreneurs often need a good deal of convincing that the website they need will cost a lot more than they imagined. Then, a small, hungry agency that needs the business sometimes makes a dreadful error and promises a website that cannot be delivered for the money available - and spends weeks developing and losing heart, developing and losing heart, killing his/her own business in the process. 


This is a serious problem when it occurs.  On occasion,  due to a lack of a business website development specification, the developer promises to deliver something which  he / she (and sometimes no one else) cannot deliver! The descriptions are vague and and the implementation is difficult or not realizable.

One example of this might be an interface to a diamond supplier. There is software available to implement this, but it is complex and beyond the scope of what many designers feel comfortable with. A business website specification is essential.

How do I Simplify a Business Website Specification?

If you are a customer, you simply make a detailed list of all your requirements, get some example websites and then discuss it with the developer. It is up to the developer to offer you more options and write the specification which you both sign off at the agreed price. 

To Help You to Prepare

We prepared a downloadable document, '16 Questions to Ask a Web Designer'. You are free to download and use.


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About the author 

Rowley Keith MBA BSc (Hons)

A qualified business manager and design engineer with many years of real-world business experience.

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