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Web Site Cookbook by Doug Addison

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2.1. Writing a Functional Specification for Your Site

Problem

You need to determine the purpose and goals for your site.

Solution

Write a functional specification that describes a road map for creating an online experience and get all the stakeholders interested in your web site's success to read the spec, approve it, and follow it.

A functional specification document can vary from a two-page outline for a small, quick turnaround web design project to a lengthy, multipart treatise for a complex web application. Regardless of the size and scope of your project, a functional specification for a web site should:

  • Identify the audience

  • State the goals of the web site

  • Establish a method for measuring success

  • Define interaction points

  • Describe the site both textually and visually

  • List key decisions to be made

  • Identify and assess similar sites

  • Outline a schedule

  • Provide a guide for testing

Discussion

Most of your web site projects will benefit from some kind of blueprint to guide your work and manage the expectations of those for whom you're working. A functional specification document can do just that. By unifying the needs of users, the capabilities of available technology, the vision for a new site's look-and-feel, and the business needs of those who are paying the bills, a functional spec makes a web site project go much more smoothly than a project that proceeds without one. For web site builders at the crossroads of these oft-competing interests, a functional spec offers a useful tool for avoiding ...

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