Top Tips to Writing a Comprehensive Technical Specification for a Website
Writing a comprehensive technical specification for your website will help set up your team for project success. It also allows you to avoid any costly surprises and keeps the web project running smoothly.
To create a technical spec document, here are some tips to guide you on how to write one and what you should include.
What Is a Technical Specification Document?
A technical specification document is an outline of project requirements needed to develop a website. It addresses the purpose, functionalities, and behaviours of the product and what it should do and how. You can also refer to it as a technical design document.
It’s often written by someone who will build the solution, but it can also be written by technical or project leaders and a senior engineer. The document requirements can have several variations, but the overall purpose is to have a goal. This is so the web development team can simultaneously agree on the terms of the website project details.
With a good specification, you’ll have a precisely estimated project timeline and actionable requirements. Although you’ll have these specifications, you can always make updates later on in the project.
What You Should Do Before Writing a Technical Specification
Before you start, you should gather existing information for any problems. Web developers get started by researching the requirements associated with the project. With any knowledge of past issues, state those details and brainstorm any solutions you think can resolve them.
You could always consider meeting with someone more experienced on these matters. Layout your ideas and explain your solution. Gather their feedback and have them help you review your technical spec.
Now that you have a foundation of where to start, here is an overview of what a technical spec doc requires.
Contents of a Requirements Document
As mentioned previously, the contents of your spec may differ. So there is no standard for what a typical requirements specification should include. However, you can use this outlined structure as a guide for including the necessary information. Here is a quick overview of what a website requirement document should include:
2. Project Team
5. Content Structure
7. Security and Privacy
This section will give you a basic overview of the project and company. It should include:
● About your company: A summary of company history and background.
● What problem you’re solving: Why is the project important?
● Project scope: Is it a complete website overhaul, a new website, or only a few pages of a redesign?
● Target audience: A quick overview of who the website is targeting.
This section will include a list of decision-makers involved with the project. It’s also helpful to have job titles, roles, and email addresses.
Give a brief description of the project’s goals. The goals will give developers an idea of what you need to accomplish to implement the most viable solution. The goals for this project should also be S.M.A.R.T., which is:
It’s essential to include phases of the project, especially if it’s larger. Create steps that follow project specs and provide a list that indicates where the project fits into the bigger picture.
The content structure comprises various components and essentially depends on the size and complexity of the website content.
● Site Map: A site map will diagram the hierarchical structure of pages included within the website.
● Content Types: This part of the website includes different types of content, such as posts and pages. A good example is testimonials, products, or an “About Us” page.
● Page Templates: A page template is a particular layout of information, such as how your homepage will look. This spot is the perfect place to implement wireframes or mockups of the design.
This section will depend on whether a design already exists or is part of the project scope. If the design exists, you should link to any assets for references such as PDFs, images, and sketch files. It’s also important to note information such as colours, spacing, typography, and more.
If a design is part of the project scope, you’ll need to establish guidelines for stylistic direction and constraints. For example, branding guidelines and competition analysis can help with the speed of a designer’s process.
Security and Privacy
It’s always a good idea to highlight how you’ll implement customer data protection, personal information, encryption, and prevention of malware attacks. It would help if you created this section so people know you’ve thought about this process. The average data breach can cost companies up to millions of dollars, so it’s always important to include this part.
Functionality is a part of how your site works. This section can include specific aspects of the website that need additional information or explanations. For instance, many sites require third-party APIs (application programming interfaces). Integrating these should include information on how they will work for the website. Examples of what you may want to outline include:
● SSL (secure socket layer) for an encrypted connection between the server and the client.
● Analytics and tracking.
● Payment gateways for e-commerce sites.
● Search functionality.
● User roles and capabilities.
● Performance requirements.
Web accessibility is the practice of building a website that works for everyone, regardless of abilities, technology, and location.
Writing Comprehensive Specifications
Writing is a skill that takes practice and commitment. However, it’s worth the effort to help you become more proficient in communicating and being a leader. If you want to be successful in writing a technical spec document, be sure to study the details. You won’t want to miss out on crucial information that will support your efforts.
A well-crafted spec document will enable the project team to move forward without any surprising occurrences. So keep the details in mind. This way, you can create a strong foundation for the project overall.
As a result, you’ll have smoother communication between you and the client and a precise picture of what lies ahead.
Eleanor is the founder and managing editor of Designerly Magazine. She’s also a web design consultant with a focus on customer experience. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dogs, Bear and Lucy.