Sometimes when we get calls, the (soon-to-be) client comes to us only with their idea, but not much of anything else.  We often suggest to them that they put together a “website scope requirements document”.  This way, if they wanted to shop around (not sure why they would do that), every web development company would have the same information and could provide their estimate accordingly.

Recently, we came across a great article on Marketing Land that outlines what questions to consider. Here they are:

Background Information:

  1. Describe your target audience.
  2. What is the purpose of the website?
  3. What are your corporate core values and how do you express them to your visitors?
  4. What makes you different from your competitors?
  5. Why should people do business with you rather than your competitors?
  6. Describe the style of the website you want.
  7. Do you have specific company colors that need to be used?
  8. Can you provide the Pantone numbers for your company colors?
  9. Do you have any other materials that the site needs to match with in some way (brochures, press materials, etc.)?
  10. What do you like most about your current website?
  11. Is there any functionality or options on your current website that you plan to keep (other than the content)?
  12. What are your top 3 frustrations with your current website?
  13. What do your current competitors’ websites have that you wish to have?
  14. Are there any websites with designs that you like?
  15. What about those websites would you like to be incorporated into your website?
  16. What types of things do you see on other websites that you really like?
  17. What types of things do you see on other websites that you really hate?
  18. Name the 3 things that are most important in the design of your new website.
  19. Name the 3 things that are least important in the design of your new website.
  20. Where is your website hosted?
  21. Do you have full access?
  22. Can you provide usernames and passwords?
  23. Who will be involved on your end in the development of the website?
  24. Any other contractors?
  25. Who or how will you be managing website upkeep?
  26. Do you have a budget you are trying to meet?

Website Scope & Specs:

  1. Does your current web host meet all your new website’s needs (space, bandwidth, databases, etc.)?
  2. Do you plan on or need to move to a new host provider?
  3. Do you need help finding the right web host?
  4. Do you already have a URL you plan to use?
  5. If not, do you need help selecting and registering a good URL?
  6. Do you have a logo you plan to use or will one need to be created?
  7. If you have one, can you provide the original artwork files?
  8. Will you need a favicon created?
  9. Do you have a tagline you wish to use or do you need help creating one for your site?
  10. Do you have a completed site architecture for the new website or will this be part of the scope of work?
  11. How many pages will the finished website be (estimated)?
  12. Do you have any page wireframes ready or will those need to be produced as part of the scope of work?
  13. Do you have the content for the website or will content creation be a part of the scope of work?
  14. How many pages of content will need to be developed?
  15. Will there be any cross promotion of content within the site?
  16. Please provide details on content cross promotion.
  17. Will we be importing and formatting your content, or do you plan to do this?
  18. Do you or your team need training for making website updates, content publishing guidelines, etc.?
  19. What types of actions do you want your visitors to take on your website?
  20. Do you have any specific photos you plan to use?
  21. Do you have full rights to those files?
  22. Can you provide hi-res files to us?
  23. Will we need to find and/or create any images for the website?
  24. Will video or audio be a part of the new website?
  25. Can you provide us the proper files or is creation of this content part of the scope of work?
  26. How many videos or audio files will be added and/or created?
  27. Will any customizations need to be made such as optimizing for search, adding content overlays, customized wrappers, etc?
  28. Do you require online chat features?
  29. Do you have any other media or PDF documents that need to be incorporated, or will any need to be created?
  30. Will these need to be optimized for search?
  31. Will your visitors require any special needs (i.e., screen reader ready, larger fonts)?
  32. Do you require your site to be mobile friendly (responsive design)?
  33. Do you have any specific mobile requirements?
  34. Do you need multi-language support?
  35. Will you need a shopping cart system for e-commerce?
  36. Do you have a system you already use?
  37. Are you in need of an upgrade?
  38. Do you need a content management system?
  39. Do you have a preference for which CMS to use? (i.e., WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Concrete 5, Magento, etc.)
  40. If not, do you need help selecting the best CMS for your needs?
  41. Will you need multiple levels of access?
  42. Do you need to be able to manage content publishing approval processes?
  43. Does your site need a blog or a forum?
  44. Will users need to log in to your site for any reason?
  45. If so, why?
  46. Do you need any password protected areas?
  47. What kind of content will be put behind password protected areas?
  48. How many web forms does your new site need?
  49. What is the purpose of each?
  50. How do you want the submitted info handled? (email, database, etc.)
  51. Do you need any social sharing features built in (tweet, like, +1, share, etc.)?
  52. Will there be any third-party applications that will need to be integrated?
  53. What are they?
  54. Will you need an events calendar feature?
  55. Do you have any subscription services?
  56. Do you use a third party for any part of subscription content delivery and/or payment?
  57. Do you require printer friendly options?
  58. Do you wish to employ any “content-on-demand” features (i.e., hidden elements that are made visible with certain actions)?
  59. Do you want a fixed-width or fluid-width design?
  60. What information must be on the home page?
  61. What information must always be visible?
  62. What features, sections or information do you want emphasized on the site?
  63. How would you like that to be featured?
  64. Will different sections of your site require different designs, layouts or coloring?
  65. Do you have any flash elements you want included?
  66. Will those be provided or do they need to be created?
  67. Do you need an internal site search feature?
  68. Do you want contact phone numbers prominently displayed?
  69. Do you require a database?
  70. What specific functionality will it need?
  71. Will you be offering advertising on the site?
  72. How should that be implemented?
  73. Do you have a Google Analytics account?
  74. Can you provide us access?
  75. Do you have any other specifications or need specific functionality that has not been addressed?
  76. What is your time frame for total project completion?
  77. Will you be looking for keyword optimization beyond the design/development scope?

Avoid The Cost Of Scope Creep And Post-Development Fixes

The worst development jobs are those that end up with runaway scope creep. That happens when the client doesn’t really know what they want and they keep adding to the project as it moves forward.

The cost of this creep is often saddled on the developer because the scope was never clearly defined in the first place. When your developer poses these questions up front, it helps the client carefully think through all of the things they need in advance, eliminating scope creep almost entirely. And, because marketing is baked right into the development process, there’s no need to hire a whole new agency to “fix” all the marketing-related blunders perpetrated by the original designer.