Refined Practice will work with you to carry out a scoping exercise to help you put together this strategy (which as well as the website itself should also consider online marketing and social media). Based on the strategy we then put together a functional specification for the website aspects of the project. This is then used as the blueprint on which all web development work is based.

How do we do it?

By talking to the relevant stakeholders in your organisation and encouraging them to talk in terms of what they want the web design project to achieve, we first build up a picture of what the success of the project would look like in the absence of any constraints. For example, you might want greater visibility for certain products, the ability to provide localised information, improved cross-selling opportunities, etc. – every project is different.

We then combine this with all known constraints (technical, regulatory, budgetary, time etc.), background data on projected visitor numbers, the size of the target market and our consultants’ knowledge and experience. In the case of relaunching an existing site we use as many data sources as we can to help with this, e.g. Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, etc.

The resulting dataset allows us to write a functional specification for the entire web site design and development project. This will consist of a set a of discrete work packages that need to be completed to launch the new web site.

At this stage you may of course choose to work solely with Refined Practice, but if not then the functional specification is set out in such a way that each work package can then be sent out to tender to as many or as few companies as you wish for them to provide detailed, costed proposals. Because all the companies tendering are working to the same, well specified set of packages it is very easy to compare all the quotes returned against one another – you are comparing like for like rather than the disparate results (with corresponding price differential) that can often come from asking companies to quote against a broader web design brief.

Because we design each work package to contain both required and optional elements, it also becomes easy to control your budget by removing optional items, safe in the knowledge that the resulting web site will still be highly functional. As each work package is designed to be stand-alone you can also keep a tight control on costs by mixing and matching suppliers to get the best deal for each package. In our experience this level of control, plus the time saved internally by having suppliers working to a complete specification, pays for the cost of the scoping exercise many times over.

Lead Strategy Consultant: Paul Ratcliffe

Paul has been working with the web since its early days and is a highly experienced strategist and project manager. An example of a recent project where Paul carried out a similar scoping exercise was for a healthcare provider in the UK. The resulting functional specification ensured a smooth and simple tendering process, as well as as a trouble-free implementation. Read more about Paul Ratcliffe »

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