When you embark on building a website, you need the developer to issue you with a web development project scope document. The document defines the project stakeholders, all the final variables, set goals, establish and acceptance criteria, and allocate resources.
You can liken website development to building a house. The architect will draw up the plans, get city licenses, building permits and more before construction commences. Similarly, the web developer or agency needs to provide you with a project scope document.
With that said, defining a proper scope document for website development can be a challenge to an untrained eye. In this article, we look at what you should ask for in a web development project scope document. It will help you in outlining the project’s road map.
What Is their Expertise?
It is common that every industry tries to leverage the surrounding technologies in order to impact the adjacent product use favourably. Understanding your industries value drivers will help in synergising product-market fit with incredible user-cases as well as driving competitive advantage in core functionality and features. For instance, UX/UI in one vertical is as important as compliance and security to another.
What Should The Website Do?
This might seem like an obvious inclusion in the web development scope document, but you will be surprised at how often it is overlooked. It is a crucial aspect of building a schematic or clear image for the website.
It will help you move on from the core assumptions and into a phase where different scenarios are plotted following the definition of the essential site and product features in simple and easy-to-understand functionality.
Which Platforms Will The Product Available?
If the website is already in the active development phase or deployed on a platform, it is necessary that you and the developer account for the relevant features and constraints. This allows for easier scaling, access, and long term project scope management.
What Is The Website Development Timeline?
This is crucial information that allows you to project the required resources to ensure the development cycles goes unabated. This is not merely a deadline to meet, but it could present real business constraints.
Armed with the information timeline from the website development project scope, you will be on hand to marsh up your resources, avoid a backlog, and serve customers with respect for their time and user experience.
What Technologies Will Be Used?
Web development technologies have evolved over the years, and you need to know which platforms and software will be used in the project. This will also help you know how much time the project will take, the amount of coding required, and the execution.
One of the things to consider is the responsiveness of the website. Moreover, you will be in a good position to determine the required future support and code maintenance required in the long term.
How Much Will the Project Cost, Requirements and Priorities?
It is necessary that you know the cost of the project, the requirements and the priorities to consider for successful web development. This will also help in determining the value provided by the web developer or agency.
A professional developer will be keen to provide as much value as possible for the price you will pay. With the information outlined in the web development project scope document, you will be able to determine and discuss what is feasible, and the prioritisation of the workload to chart a positive way forward.
Are Third-Party Integrations Feasible?
If the web developer has a sense of how your website will connect with third-party applications, this will help you in mapping the effectiveness of processes, development architecture, and audits. It is also important to plan an API even if the website does not have third-party integrations at the beginning.
Who Constitutes The User Base?
It is crucial that the website requirements align with the requirements of the intended user profile. This will help you to plan how you will deliver a valuable and viable website. With that said, most website developers reduce human behaviour to programmatic objectives.
However, the scope document will help in returning to referencing site-use assumptions. This enables the team to gain clarity and includes user behaviours within the websites core features. It is a crucial value addition that delivers product and market alignment with the direct users and their needs, along with the web development road map.
What Is The Goal Of The Website?
It is important the web developer understand what the website will be used for, as well as its purpose. The scope might expand or shrink in the course of the development process due to unforeseen complications, but the purpose and goal of the project should remain consistent.
By referencing back to the most viable product, you and the developer will be able to ensure that the goal or purpose of the project does not shift.
What Is The Best Content Strategy?
While the developer is responsible for creating the website for you, the scope document ought to outline the best content strategy you should use. In some cases, you are the one to suggest your envisioned content strategy.
If you have not thought about it, the developer should bring to your attention during the consultation phase. This question will clarify who should be in charge of the content. If the web developer is responsible, their fees will increase significantly.
What Is The Negative Scope?
Unless you have experience in building websites, there are some elements of the website that you will want to include that might not be compatible with the website you want. Negative scope includes the items that will not be part of the project.
The web developer should include these items in the web development project scope to eliminate any misunderstandings and confusions in the future. The items in the negative scope include:
- Items you and the developer discussed but have decided not to include as deliverables in the web development project
- Items that are usually done on similar websites that you do not want
- Elements that are not going to be part of the project such as SEO, social media marketing, web hosting among others
By bringing up the negative scope, there are reduced chances of the developer assuming that they should be part of the project. This will reduce any chances of feeling overcharged for elements you do not want in your website.
How Will The Scope Be Documented?
One of the most common mistakes that both developers and website owners make is failing to document the project scope. This is usually the case when you speak to the web developer on the phone or face to face meeting.
Relying on memory is a huge risk as some crucial aspects of the web development process might be forgotten, and this will lead to misunderstandings down the road. This is because you might end the call or meeting with different expectations from that of the web developer.
Fortunately, there are many scope document templates available online as well as scope documenting apps available for free download on the iOS and Android play stores.
How Will The Business Brand Be Applied To The Website?
There are many ways of including your business’ brand to the website, and the developer ought to run you through the various possibilities. Moreover, how the web developer will incorporate it into the website should be included in the scope document. This could include the addition of logos, colour scheme, vision and mission statement, and more.
How Will Digital Marketing Be Integrated?
By the time you are thinking of building a website, you must have an idea of how you will market it. There are millions of active websites today, and you need to have a digital marketing plan. However, it might be a tall order knowing how you will actualise the plan.
An experienced web developer should advise you on how you will integrate digital marketing into the website and add it to the scope document. This will help if you plan to use a different web developer to maintain and make updates to the website.
How They Will Go About Web Design?
Web development and design are regarded as different entities, but you can find a web developer who also doubles in web design. This will help you in cutting costs and getting excellent functionality and user experience.
The developer ought to include the design elements to be included and those to be left out in the scope document. This will give you an idea of how you will market the website as well as in drafting a winning content strategy.
A web development project scope is one of the definition documents that will help shape your working relationship with the developer. Both of you should sign-off on the scope document in order to usher in the next step of the project.
If you have contracted the developer to carry out a definition phase before committing to full web development, then you are the owner of the documentation. It will serve as the projects road map for any web developer or agency you choose to work on the project.
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