Work on the site begins with the preparation of the Terms of Reference (TT). This document will reflect the specific requirements that the customer imposes on the performer.
Why is it needed?
The presence of a formulated terms of reference is necessary for the following reasons:
You yourself will better understand what you want. Making TT, we will have to think through all the nuances of the future site, decide on its structure, identify the target audience, etc.
The customer will understand you better, you will save time and money. Providing everything in advance, you avoid surprises, such as the need to make additional modules, pay extra for the design of unplanned pages, etc.
the contractor gets to name a more accurate cost and time of completion. And you, in turn, will be able to immediately plan the budget and determine the time of launch site.
You will be able to make specific claims on the unfulfilled paragraphs of the terms of reference. Technical specification is signed and attached to the contract, which you enter into with the Executive, and serves as a decisive document in assessing the completeness of work performed.
Below we will consider point by point all the aspects that need to be consistently considered in the TT. Prescribe them, too, it is desirable to paragraphs in a free form, but as briefly as possible.
The marketing part.
In this section you should briefly describe the specifics of your work and activities in general. We should assume that the performer is not well aware of the specifics of your business. He can, of course, figure it out on his own, but it is better to help him right away. In this section it is necessary to disclose such aspects as:
The field of activity (drilling wells for water, making soft toys to order, selling luxury German household appliances, etc.). Tell about those aspects that you consider important and the most difficult. Audience. Describe the portrait of your potential client who will be targeted by the site. This may be a young student, an experienced successful entrepreneur, a housewife – anyone. You can specify age, range of interests, average income – any marketing information.
Competitors. Identify the companies you will be competing with for an online audience. Provide links to their websites, write honestly what makes them better than you, and what your advantages are. If there are no advantages – no problem, say so.
Type and function of the site
To advertise your brand, that is, to represent your organization to users of the Global Web. Even a small business card site for 4-5 pages will do.
To advertise products – to tell about the services, your products, indicating telephone numbers, with feedback forms to order. If you have a lot of goods, you can make a site-catalogue. If the goods one, he is perfectly on sale by a landing.
For direct sales. Will sell sites that have a module with “Basket”, with the possibility of online payment, synchronization with accounting and warehouse programs, etc. These are complex online stores.
For fun. Perhaps you want to get income from advertising on your site. In this case you need a portal with interesting modules, a forum for communication between visitors, the possibility to register users, etc.
Preferred Control Systems (CMS)
Other technical aspects are discussed below, but it is better to determine the control system at once. It can be paid and free, provide different opportunities for promotion. Note that many companies only work with a particular type of system: for example, only with 1C Bitrix or only with MODX. To say that one of them is the best – is impossible.
Structure of the site
Here we specify the number of sections and subsections for catalogs and online stores, or just list the number and names of pages for online business sites. The structure is simpler to give in the form of a flowchart, to make clear all the ramifications and subdivisions nesting. For business cards the structure will be as simple as possible, without nesting: home page, page about the company, contacts, possibly a news block, a section of products.
Describing the functionality
Think about what actions a visitor should perform on your website, and describe them in maximum detail. How the menu should work, what kind of calendar you need, what fields should be in the forms, etc. It’s better to write the obvious than to leave out some aspect that is important for you. A simple example. Imagine that you need a feedback form. How will it work? Will it automatically send responses to your email? Should it send a notification to your phone? What fields should be there? Anything you don’t specify, the contractor can do at his discretion. And legally it will be in accordance with the terms of reference. That is, you will pay extra for corrections. And the point here is not in the insidiousness of website builders. Many of them are even willing to meet you halfway and make minor changes for free. But the time will be lost anyway.
In the section with the description of the functionality you need to consider:
The possibility of registration, as well as the ability to separate the roles of users. Will they have their own pages on the site (personal account), which functions will have access to registered users, what data will be collected during registration.
Presence of a “Shopping cart” and a feedback form. These options are mandatory for sales sites. The functionality of the “Cart” and the names of the fields in the feedback forms should be described in detail. The nuances of the blocks. What the blocks of the site will look like, where they will be located, where popup windows will fall from, how to scroll, etc.
Specific functionality. For example – different calculators to calculate the cost of services.
External services, such as synchronization with 1C, connection of news aggregators and widgets.
Browser compatibility. Traditionally, the sites are compatible with the latest versions of Mozilla, Chrome, Opera.
Compatibility with mobile devices.
These wishes do not have to be categorical. But set some limits to the performer still need to get what you really like. Here we reflect such aspects as:
The color scheme. This is especially important if you already have corporate colors.
The location of blocks on the page (such as the header, footer, forms, text, banners, galleries, etc.). Note that the site is a permanent blocks (eg, footer), whose position does not change on all pages. And there is a dynamic, which may not be on all pages, or change their position depending on the section of the site. Features of the menu. Describe where there will be drop-down lists-harmonic. Maybe you have some original ideas for the layout and design of the menu.
Effects. Parallax, moving objects, sparkle and flicker, flashing
Banners – all of this is necessary and can be used, but very carefully. The site should be simple and understandable to the user. If you want any effect to be used – specify this in your terms of reference.
Infographics / drawings. This modern way of visualizing information on the site. It affects the extent and complexity of the work of a web designer, and in some cases requires the involvement of additional expertise, such as illustrators or 3D max volumetric graphics specialists. Therefore, it is necessary to specify whether the site will have unique individual icons or drawings designed specifically for the goods/services of the customer.
Point on the technical features of the non-specialists to make the most difficult. Here you should specify wishes for SEO-optimization, stability, resistance to virus attacks, etc. To understand what we are talking about, here is an example of a real terms of reference for a large multi-page directory site:
It should be possible to set a unique address for each page of the site.
It should be possible to specify the meta tags for each page of the site.
For the formation of url-addresses of pages of the site should use technology CNC.
Page error 404 (error “Page not found”) should be maintained in the style of the entire site and have an explanation of the error understandable to the layman.
Must use AJAX technology in places where it seems appropriate and possible.
XML-map of the site should be formed automatically and be available for search robots.
Headers and response codes of the server must be formed correctly, in accordance with accepted standards.
In principle, these requirements are valid for most modern projects (at the end of 2021), so you can safely “copy” and paste them into your TT. If you have difficulty with this point – you can skip it and make up in direct communication with the performer. Experienced website designers help clients determine the technical requirements based on the functionality of their site.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
One important tip: Do not try to invent something unique. You have probably already seen something on the websites of your competitors or entrepreneurs from another field that may be useful to you. Do not hesitate to say that you need the same or similar solution. At the end of the TТ you can give a list of sites with explanations. Specify which design you liked, which module seemed interesting. It is always easier to show once than to explain many times.
Bad TТ is better than none.
Of course, it is extremely difficult to write competent TТ without experience, because the customer rarely knows anything about websites, control systems, features of the layout, SEO, etc. But in any case, at least try to resolve most of the above issues is necessary. Even a handwritten terms of reference not according to plan is better than its absence. Most importantly, making TТ, you will understand what aspects of the future site you need to clarify, what questions to ask at the initial consultation with the performer. Then it will be easier.