Usability Tip: Preparing to Build Your Web Site with Requirements Gathering

Before you begin to build your web site, let’s pause for a moment and think about your goals. When you first sat down to consider your plans, did you think about your business requirements? Why do you want a web site? What do you hope to accomplish? How will you do this? How do you know if you remembered to include everything you’ll need to do? What do you want your web site to do?

Some example business requirements may be:

1. Increase the amount of qualified Search Engine traffic.
2. Increase the number of new visitors (and perhaps pre-qualify new customers).
3. Increase the number of return visitors.
4. Increase the number of page views per visit.

Some business goals may be:

1. Provide information
2. Enable online sales
3. Provide career information for prospective employees
4. Provide news (blog, newsletter, etc.)
5. Create community
6. Generate sales leads
7. Find new partners
8. Provide information for investors, media, press
9. Showcase proprietary software application(s)
10. Create a popular brand

When evaluating these ideas, you’ll also begin to take notes on how you will reach these goals and meet your requirements. Some of your ideas, such as adding a shopping cart or sales lead form, will require functional requirements. You’ll need to visit hardware and performance issues. There are search engine marketing requirements. Other requirements include:

1. Accessibility – standards, or to meet USA and UK legal requirements
2. Different search engines
3. Directory requirements
4. User Interface requirements
5. User testing
6. Marketing, social media
7. Content management; database

To name a few, but you get the idea. Be sure to write everything down and prepare a Requirements Document. Consider investing in hiring a professional who gathers your information for you, writes the documentation and then creates test plans and test cases to be sure each requirement is traced to your site goals and that each requirement is met. Test plans include heuristics and steps to prove things like user tasks or accessibility laws have been met.

The beauty of being this well organized is that for large projects, sometimes a team needs to be involved. They’ll want to be included on decisions and perhaps “sign off” that certain items have been tested or met. When you roll out your web site, you stand a better chance of making it perfect and customer friendly from the start simply by proving to yourself first that it’s indeed ready for show time!

Lastly, sometimes a company wants to roll out a site or application before its been fully tested. With a Requirements Document and followup testing, you can provide validation when certain areas aren’t completed or ready for use. When creating a personal brand, this is critical.

A bad customer response can waste the investment you just made.