How to start a corporate website development project — collect the right requirements the right way

Define project stakeholders

Gather insights and business requirements

The scope of the interviews

  • The product or service
    how they understand it and what is needed to provide good quality; what makes it stand out from the rest; what could be improved
  • The customers
    customer segments; their needs and problems; how they communicate with the company
  • The competition
    their strong and weak points
  • The organisation
    why they like to work for the company; what makes it special, website function and design requirements.
  • Website function and design requirements

Ask open and general questions

  • Why there’s a need for a new website?
    This is a complex question that will allow you to gauge their understanding of the business context, company goals, communication issues, competition, any problems that require addressing, as well as more straightforward website functional requirements.
  • How do you use the current website in customer communications and how it could be improved?
    To answer this question they will think about offline and online communication processes, project them onto the website, and come up with ideas for improvement — or identify pressure points — that you can take as functional requirements.
  • What you don’t want to happen as a result of this project?
    T
    hinking about possible negative consequences will help your project stakeholder to come up with positive ones.
  • What projects have you participated in and particularly enjoyed — and why?
    This will help you to understand why the person likes working at the company, what makes the company unique, what qualities can be viewed as corporate values, and where the company could still develop.
  • What makes the company/product better than the competition?
    This will allow you to understand who its competitors are, their strong and weak points, as well as those of the company.
  • How do you see the company in a few years?
    This will usually shed light on current problems and ideas for how to address them. This insight is useful for crafting the website’s visual style.

Lay down a brief

  • Who are we and what do we do?
    Industry, company and product/services description, actual nuts and bolts of what the company does, process descriptions and other «how’s».
  • Who are we here for?
    List the customer segments; their needs and problems; how the company/product satisfies their needs; what they do on the website; channels they used to arrive at the website; and special services or communication that exists for specific segments. For B2B websites it makes sense to describe customer roles that participate in the buying process within the customer organisation, as the process could be initiated by one role yet approved by another.
  • Why did we start this project?
    What is the business context of the project; what changed in the company’s strategy or tactics that triggered the need to redo the website; what are the website’s general and functional goals.
  • Who are we competing with?
    Provide here links to the competitors’ websites, with a short overview of their weak and strong points.
  • How should we be perceived?
    The visual design conveys an emotional message, creating a certain mood in which the website visitor will interact with the information. The most effective way to define this message is to outline the company’s qualities that you derived from the interviews. If the company’s strong attributes are innovation, technology, a high level of organisation, and simultaneously personal service, an ability to offer custom solutions, the new design’s “tone of voice” should be innovative, cutting-edge, formal, yet showing the personal qualities of the staff, etc.
  • What should the website do?
    Outline here the functional features that the website should have, generally and for each client segment — list the actions they can take on the website and how the website should process them. List issues with the current website that need to be fixed. Provide a possible website structure, if you have one, and list possible features per page.

Using other websites as benchmarks

Design benchmarks

Functional benchmarks

Conclusion

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