How to Write a Website Specification

The benefits of a websites for businesses are becoming increasingly obvious, especially for small businesses. However, when it comes to creating a new website, it's very easy to jump straight in without planning exactly what you want. Not only does this make building the website more difficult for your developers, but it also can cause speed bumps along the way when features aren't exactly how you imagined. Putting together a detailed website specification can save you a lot of time further down the line, and helps to align everyone’s visions. This way, the client will know what to expect in the end result, and everyone will have a website specification template they can refer back to. In addition, this helps the developers know what to code, the testers to properly conduct quality assurance checks, and the project managers to smoothly plan out the project. We've outlined some key elements to get you started when writing your web design specification:

  1. Your Company
  2. Points of Contact
  3. Objectives
  4. Functional Specification
  5. Your Audience
  6. Device and Browser Preferences
  7. Design
  8. Competitor Landscape
  9. Site Structure
  10. Features
  11. Non-Functional Requirements
  12. Maintenance and Support
  13. Budget & Timescale

What is the specification of a website?

If you’re not familiar with the website design or development world, you may be asking, ‘what is a website specification?’. It’s very easy to understand! Simply put, a website specification uses a set website specification templates to establish the project’s desired goals and objectives. This helps us website developers build a considered, thought-through website that meets your aims. The web design specification covers everything from details of stakeholders, budgets, deadlines, technical restraints, desired features and more.

1. Your Company

Whenever we start a new project, we always start by learning more about your company. By getting to know your company, our designers can create a bespoke design that accurately reflects your company and your values. Having insight into your day to day business will also make it possible for our web developers to suggest innovative features to greatly improve your site. Within this introductory period, we will sit down with you to extract exactly what you require from this project so we can effectively make tailored website specification recommendations that are personalised to your business.

What to include:

  • What products/services your business provides to clients/consumers.
  • Your company values, history, story and what makes you special.
  • Your business’s USP: what are your stand out qualities or key selling points that keep consumers or clients coming back to you?
  • The specific roles each team member plays within the company.
  • The size of your company and your average annual turnover.
  • Any major achievements you’d like to acknowledge.


2. Points of Contact

Now we’ve got to know your team a little better, we can create an amazing design for you. But, should we need to reach out to you to discuss something, we should know who to contact. In a website specification template, it’s useful to include names, job titles and email addresses so that communication can remain smooth.

What to include:

  • Names, job titles and email addresses.
  • Ideal response times.
  • What to do in the case of an urgent request.


3. Objectives

We can move much quicker and work collaboratively with your brief by establishing your priority objectives. Outlining the website's goals, your values, and USPs within the website specification helps us do our job to the best of our abilities and helps us understand what features you'll need to achieve said goals. Furthermore, we'll also suggest and provide extensive ways to track and analyse your data to see how well your website is performing based on your goals.

What to include:

  • What will be the main use of the website?
  • What SMART targets or objectives have you set for this website? E.g. Increase leads by 10% in 6 months.
  • How will this website fit into your overall company or team goals?
  • Why do you need this project?
  • What are the outcomes you’d like to achieve and are they measurable?
  • Do you have any problems you’d like to address with your existing site?
  • What are the business drivers for this website change?

4. Functional Specification

A website has one main goal: to serve your business. But how can we know how best to build a website that serves your business if we’re unsure what your website should actually do? The functional part of the website specification template runs through everything each website page should do. For example, if you’re an e-commerce business, you may require custom functionality that allows customers to view their order status within their account tab. Alternatively, your consumers may exist in foreign countries, so you require specific payment gateways on your site. Anything functional that your website needs to succeed should be mentioned here.

What to include:

  • What you would like your website to do as a whole.
  • What you’d like each individual page to do on your website.
  • Any technical preferences you may have e.g. Website framework, payment platforms.
  • Custom integrations such as stock management or ERP.

5. Your Audience

It’s useful to be aware of any audience analytics from the get-go. Acknowledging a demographic and psychographic can help us understand what your audience may expect and require, helping to make the user experience of your website more streamlined. Knowing details like age range, gender, most used device, shopping habits etc., can help us suggest and create features within your new site targeted directly to your audience, including layout and navigation. Small, subtle changes in user experience and user interface can make the difference between your target audience loving your website or choosing a competitor instead.

What to include:

  1. Your target audience's demographic: age, gender, location, profession, income etc.
  2. Your target audience’s psychographic: what they enjoy, how they use websites, why they visit your website, their interests.
  3. Information about your audience's device habits: do they shop on mobile or just browse? Do they own a laptop or desktop?
  4. Any known browsing habits or patterns: is your target audience more likely to shop at night? What is their average basket quantity? How long does it take them to check out? Do they head straight to your blog or browse your products/services first?

6. Device and Browser Preferences

Long gone are the days of desktop browsing, in fact, a recent study showed that over 75% of UK online shoppers had made a mobile purchase within 2021. It’s important to understand the device and browser that your consumer or client is visiting you on, as technical requirements can vary significantly.

What to include:

  • What device your consumer/client visits your website on. E.g. Mobile, iPad, desktop.
  • What browser your consumer/client visits your website on. E.g. Chrome, Safari, Firefox.

7. Design

Our design team are experts in creating website designs to match a company, so if you don't have an exact design in mind, don't worry. Additionally, if you don't have an established brand identity, we can help you create one through the website build, showcasing an aesthetic that's true to your company, goals and values. Before starting your new website, it's helpful to take a look at your competitors' websites and note any design aspects and features that you both do and don't like.

What to include:

  • Any websites you particularly like: design, function, navigation, layout.
  • Any websites you don't like: design, function, navigation, layout.
  • Your existing brand identity, including branding, colour palettes, logos, illustrations and any other assets that may be useful.

8. Competitor Landscape

Every savvy company should be aware of their competitors, so this should be easy if you’re up to date with competitor analysis. To get a 360 view of the industry landscape in which you operate, we ask you to provide a comprehensive list of your direct and indirect competitors within the web design specification. This is useful for establishing key website design features prevalent within your industry, and gaps in the current offering that you could capitalise on. By improving current market offerings, enhancing existing features, and providing a distinct design, we can ensure that your website is at the top of its game compared to competitor sites.

What to include:

  • Comprehensive list of direct competitors.
  • Comprehensive list of indirect competitors.
  • What key features the industry would expect from you.
  • Any gaps in the market you have identified.


9. Site Structure

A site structure is a map, a bit like a family tree, showing all of the pages of your website in hierarchical order. Understanding your site structure is vital for getting a high-level view of your current website. Additionally, if you can provide us with your desired site structure, our team of developers can easily implement this within their design and build process.

What to include:

  • A detailed site structure of your existing website.
  • A detailed site structure of your desired website.


10. Features

Although many platforms and content management systems come with many features included by default, a lot of features will need to be built by our team. So that it's clear what you will need from your new website, we'd advise sending over a full list of features you will require to run your business. Your web developer can then let you know what is available by default and what will need to be custom-built.

What to include:

  • A full list of features you need to run your business.
  • Any additional desired features you’d like to include.
  • Clear explanations of how you'd like each feature to work.
  • Any examples of features you've seen on other websites.
  • Any integrations with third-party systems.


11. Non-Functional Requirements

The non-functional requirements aren’t very exciting, however they are essential to avoid red tape and trouble down the line. It’s essential you include this step within your website specification, as certain industries may require certain compliance requirements to be listed on your website. Additionally, security is a large factor. Depending on how confidential or high-value your website content is, you want to ensure that the security measures you employ at the beginning are suitable for your site.

What to include:

  • Details on your security preferences, including whether you need to be PCI compliant.
  • Any specific compliance requirements your industry upholds.
  • Details regarding terms and conditions.
  • How quickly you’d like your pages to load.

12. Maintenance and Support

Many people employ website development companies to design and build their sites, but they overestimate how much work the company will do for them. Many employers may expect the website development company to implement SEO, add content to the site, website hosting, migrate their existing website or provide ongoing maintenance. To avoid confusion, both parties' roles and responsibilities should be listed at the very beginning.

What to include:

  • Specific tasks the website development company will undertake.
  • Specific tasks the client will undertake.


13. Budget & Timescale

Although some clients are cautious when providing a budget, we highly recommend sending a rough budget and timescale with your website specification. Being transparent and providing a budget and timescale will allow our sales team to put together a realistic plan that will fit your specifications while staying within your budget and timescale requirements. If you’re conscious that your budget may be too low, we still urge you to reach out. We always consider all inquiries, and make appropriate recommendations to suit different budgets.

What to include:

  • Dates for when you'd like a beta version and live version to be ready.
  • A rough budget for the project.
  • Which features are more of a priority than others.
  • A rough outline of priority phases. E.g. Phase 1 – Basic marketing build. Phase 2: Adding e-commerce. Phase 3: CRM integration.


Building a website can seem like a large feat, however breaking it down into manageable steps can help to clarify your vision and priorities. A detailed website specification can make or break a project, so we always bet on taking the time to sit down to thoroughly run our website specification template. If you’re ready to get started with a new website, or are considering updating an existing site, get in touch with our team. We can provide you with advice and suggestions, and give you a no-obligation quote.

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