Certified Web Technologist

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Developing a site specification

The site specification is the planning team's concise statement of core goals, values, and intent, to provide the ultimate policy direction for everything that comes next. Designing a substantial Web site is a costly and time-consuming process. When you're up to your neck in the daily challenges of building the site, it can be surprisingly easy to forget why you are doing what you are, to lose sight of your original priorities, and to not know on any given day whether the detailed decisions you are making actually support those overall goals and objectives. A well-written site specification is a powerful daily tool for judging the effectiveness of a development effort. It provides the team with a compass to keep the development process focused on the ultimate purposes of the site. As such, it quickly becomes a daily reference point to settle disputes, to judge the potential utility of new ideas as they arise, to measure progress, and to keep the development team focused on the ultimate goals. At minimum, a good site specification should define the content scope, budget, schedule, and technical aspects of the Web site. The best site specifications are very short and to the point, and are often just outlines or bullet lists of the major design or technical features planned. The finished site specification should contain the goals statement from the planning phase, as well as the structural details of the site.