10 Things to Consider When Writing a Website Specification

10 Things to Consider When Writing a Website Specification

Category: General

And setting a budget

Trying to assess what a new company’s website will cost is like trying to assess what it will cost to buy a suitable vehicle for your business.  To say “I need a website for my company” is like saying “I need a vehicle to deliver to my customers” – it is so vague that some digital marketing companies may try to sell you a Bicycle with a Basket and others a Juggernaut Lorry.  

You could be more precise and say “I need a Van” but your quotes will still vary widely. And you may still find that the van you DO buy is not the best for the purpose you needed it for. 

Imagine your disappointment when you think you've ordered (and paid for) a lorry, but after a while you realise that you ended up with a bike! You need to have a specification of requirements.

It is the same with websites. You really have to put some thought into what you require so you get a very good return on your investment. However, the good news is that your specification needn’t be too technical, it just needs to be clear, appropriate and aspirational for your business. Your digital marketing company may even be able to bring their experience to the process through effective project scoping.

88% of business purchasing decisions start with searching online

Your website needs to Be Found, Be Welcoming, Be Engaging, Be Great and Be Sociable (more about the 5 Be's) to compete online in today’s sophisticated online marketplace.

10 Key Points to Success

Here are 10 key points to help you pull your thoughts together into an outline specification that will allow you to get much more focused website quotes.

1. Define Your Primary Goals

You may be looking at a new website because an existing one is simply too old, it's not working right or giving misinformation because your business has moved on. This is your chance to do some ‘Blue Sky’ thinking to define how your organisation could really benefit from a great website. Usually this is to ensure your website can generate leads or sales and to make sure the company looks professional to potential customers - as well as existing ones.

2. Consider Secondary Goals

This may be to provide valuable information to customers and potential customers so they don’t need to phone your company for basic information such as your location, opening hours, delivery information and suchlike. Often these secondary goals are to help reduce the workload on your staff and to display valuable information to all customers.

3. Produce a Site Map

Start with a blank sheet and write “Home Page” and then bullet point what you want to see on the home page that REALLY delivers a punchy message. This is a golden opportunity to immediately tell every visitor what your USP is (Unique Selling Point) – So make sure it is a good one.  Then lay out other key headings and pages.


 - Home

 - About Us
   - - History
   - - Management Team

 - Products

 - Services

 - Project Examples

 - Contact Us

4. Consider Who Will Visit Your Website

Think deeply about who you want to attract and how you can impress visitors to your website. You should make it fundamentally attractive and appropriate to that audience. Show them that you understand their needs and that your company can provide excellent solutions. Show potential customers that your business ‘walks the walk and talks the talk’ to give them the confidence that you are the organisation they should use. Ensure your content is concise and accurate, always. Make sure everything is well written. Typos kill customer confidence. Pictures and videos should always be first class - without compromise. This is your company’s showcase website so it must present your business to the world in the best way possible.  Remember the statistic above, 88% of ALL business purchases start with a visit to your website.

5. Get The Technical Parts Right

What does the website NEED to do for your business? If it is to sell products and accept payment, (eCommerce) then go through the process in detail. The first rule of sales is “Make it easy for the customer to buy” (no company does this better than Amazon). Ensure there is a CTA (Call to Action) on every page and alongside every product.  Don’t make the visitor click

6. Case Studies and Customer Quotes

Visitors take great comfort from hearing that others before them value the products they bought from you and have enjoyed great service from your company. Make sure you add case studies and great customer quotes and have them positioned adjacent to the Calls to Action.  These need to be updated regularly and have the customer’s permission to be used. Case studies are an excellent source of material to use for Social Media Marketing.

7. Competitor Websites and Others

List your main competitor’s websites and provide these to your Digital Agency as an example of the competition you are facing in business and on the Internet in particular. Often, the competitors are way ahead in the Internet race with well designed, powerful websites that rank highly on Google. These can be used as a yardstick so the goal is to rank even higher and have better websites. Also, list other websites that you find attractive and that you like using. Finally list any that you dislike and wish to avoid for your own design.  At the end of the day it is a meeting of minds between you, your team and the Digital Agency building your website.

8. Establish an appropriate budget 

Establish a budget and disclose it to the Digital Agency. If you don’t trust them to divulge your budget, then don’t use them. Find an agency you DO trust. Any Digital Agency worth their salt will have your company’s best interests at the forefront of their agenda. If your budget falls short of what you really need, then you can reduce pages or functionality initially, but not the quality of the design or the calls to action. Your site can be expanded in future phases as and when your budget allows.  There is a law of diminishing returns with website investment so your agency will get you as high on the graph as possible within your budget, without compromising on quality.

9. Timing, Project Management and Resources

Few Design Agencies can start a website project immediately as they should have jobs on the go and will have Work in Progress that your project needs to fit into. Give yourself time to avoid a mad rush to launch, it isn’t conducive to quality. At Big Red Digital we use an AGILE Project Management methodology which really works for us and our clients. Check your internal resources for generating  and supplying regular content. Who is going to write the words? Do they have the ability and time to do this well?  Many websites miss launch dates because the client company can’t provide the content on time, or it is produced but is of lower quality than is needed. Maybe you should consider using a content writer – your Digital Agency will advise you.

10. Full Collaboration with your Digital Agency

Your new website should never be static, but ever evolving with new case studies, news of company successes, new products being offered, key staff profiling, helpful information for existing customers that will also reach a wider audience.  Your website is your company’s “megaphone” to the world and, crucially, should translate well across to Social Media.  This is absolutely essential to ensure a high Google ranking so customers and potential customers FIND YOU when they are actively looking for the products or services you sell. Try buying something from your own company website on a regular basis. It can be an eye opening experience and very useful to know how you could enhance the experience.


Setting the right goals and expectations from the start will contribute to uplifting the online profile of your company and make the build process much smoother for everyone involved. Your new website will breathe new life into the business and potentially transform income and productivity. Management and staff should be proud to show it off – it really makes a big difference. When your company performs well and looks great online, orders and enquiries will follow. Surely that's a job worth doing right?

For more information, contact us.

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