How to Write a Website Specification

An Essential Guide to Writing a Website Specification

The only way to be completely sure of satisfaction is with a written agreement/contract that includes a complete specification, payment terms, penalty clauses and guarantees.

Yes, it is better being careful in your selection of a developer than being careful with your agreement. To be sure you should do both.


This is an essential guide to developing a specification for your new website. It should serve as an overview so you get the idea quickly and know what may be involved, without the need to wade through the many other guides you may find with an internet search.

4 areas of consideration

1. Sections to include in your specification

  1. The purpose of your website
  2. A list fo Keywords/Phrases that you want to be found for
    • IMPORTANT NOTE: Ideally, you will require a separate optimised web page for each phrase.
  3. A list of all pages (Home, About, Contact, Phrase 1, Phrase 2, other, other etc.)
  4. Navigation requirements (top menu and footer, mostly)
  5. Outline of the layout (“wirerframe”) for each page
  6. List non-custom features/functionality required (photo gallery, Newsletter signup, Google Analytics etc.)
  7. List custom features and functions, if any (a table, a graphic, a scheduling calendar etc.)
    • Items listed in 7. and 8 will need to be well described/specified.
  8. Shopping Cart: List all functions, especially those relating to what is unique in your business.
    • The simplest way to do this is to review lists of functions available with well known shopping carts (e.g. Opencart, Woo Commerce and even Shopify)
    • Distinguish between thoss which should be configured by the developer and those that should be included for configuration at a later time (for example, you may not want to pay for upsell or coupons but would like the function to be available for future configuration by you).
  9. Your expectations for design (look & feel)
  10. List websites and web pages that you would like to emulate.
  11. Your required completion date
  12. Payment preferences
  13. Guarantees, warranties and penalty clauses

2. Request pricing for the following also, as required

  • Set up of email accounts
  • Google Analytics installed
  • Hosting (price and specification)
  • Training
  • Tech Support
  • Site Maintenance
  • Site security

3. Include these minimum requirements in your spec.

  • Responsive Design
  • Compliance to W3C, HTML5 and CSS3 standards
  • CMS to manage your own content
  • You own the domain name
  • You own the hosting account
  • Admin access to move the website at will

4. Some considerations for an ecommerce website.

  • No ecommerce transaction fees
  • How satisfaction with the shop front page design is guaranteed
  • How many products, categories will be pre loaded
  • Configured for taxes appropriate to your business
  • Shipping charges configured for your business
  • Your preferred payment gateway implemented
  • Up-Sell, Cross sell and Coupon code functionality etc.