This is the worksheet that we go through with clients to help them determine what they want in a WordPress site.
WordPress Website Planning and Basic Functional Specifications
This is a checklist for creating your Basic Functional Specifications, the list of items that the user will be able to see and use on your website. This list does not cover all of the decisions required throughout the website planning and building process, but it is a good starting point for the discussion that will lead to the Final Functional Specifications, the master list of how your site will look and feel. Functional Specifications differ from Technical Specifications in that Functional Specifications declare what the website needs to do, how it behaves, how it looks and what happens when a user clicks on something. Technical Specifications declare how the Functional Specifications will be accomplished. netCorps creates Technical Specifications and uses them as a Master Plan for your site.
Creating Basic Functional Specifications is one of the first parts of the project process that netCorps uses. Each project is different and progresses along its own path, but the basic project process is:
Form your Design Team – Choose who will be responsible for deciding who your website is for, what your website will do and how it will look. Your Design Team may be just the key point of contact for the project (you!), but consider asking others for their input, especially those who will be creating and maintaining content on your site.
Create Basic Functional Specifications – This is usually a rough idea of what the site will look like and how it will function. The idea at this point is for you to visualize what you want your website to do and for netCorps to gather enough information to estimate what it will take to make your vision come to life. These Basic Functional Specifications do not have to be thoroughly detailed, you are not choosing colors yet, but they do give a level of detail beyond “We want a new website”.
Create a Proposal and Sign a Project Contract – This is where we give our best estimate, in the form of a proposal, of what it will take to complete your website. There is usually some redesign that takes place during this phase as more understanding is reached by all. We give a best estimate of what we think your project will cost and how long it will take.
Basic Site Setup – Here we create a blank site and install all of the needed tools we think you will need for your site. We may install more tools later on as we determine your Final Functional Specifications.
Development of Website Design – If you have an outside firm designing your site this is the part of the process where you work with them. They will follow a process similar to the steps below. If netCorps is designing your site then this is the stage where we works with you to decide which features go where and how the site will look. Here is where we examine other websites and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each to come up with your final design. This part of the process includes:
Initial Design Phase – Where netCorps presents two or three design options, sometimes based on existing WordPress themes/skins, you determine the option that best fits your needs and choose colors, fonts, and graphics. These choices combined with your Basic Functional Specifications to become the Final Functional Specifications.
Review of Initial Design – netCorps presents what we have done so far and gets your feedback.
Final Design Phase – Where netCorps implements any changes you gave us during the Review of the Initial Design and you sign off on the Final Design.
Design Integration – If your site design was designed by an outside firm, netCorps layers that design on top of WordPress. If your site is using an existing WordPress theme, netCorps integrates that theme into WordPress. This phase also includes:
Rough-out Navigational Outline and Basic Content – Here we work with you to design the basic framework of where content is stored and how to organize it on your site. This may already have been specified in the Final Functional Specification phase, it is completed here.
User Account Creation and Permissions – We create users and set permissions on areas of the site, per your specifications.
Train Key Staff on WordPress Basics – We give you some basic WordPress training at this point to give you an idea of how things can be organized in WordPress and how to create and modify content.
Migrate Content from Existing Site – If you have specific content on your current site that you want to put on your new site, this is when it is created/migrated. This can be done by you, or by netCorps, or by both. netCorps proposals typically include time to migrate contents from your existing site. You can save money by doing this yourself and learn WordPress at the same time!
Additional Staff Training on WordPress Basics and Administrator Training – We train the rest of your staff on how to use WordPress and give additional training to administrative users.
Documentation – We document information and tasks specific to your site in one file that is easy to find (we put it in a private location on your website!) This documentation is in addition to the basic WordPress training tips and guides.
Site Launch – You say “Go!” and the site goes live for the world to see. netCorps can help you with the technical details of making this happen smoothly.
Questions to Ask Your Team When Creating Your Website
Primary Goals for This Site
What is the purpose for creating this site?
What needs will this site will address?
Who will be the target audience, the users?
How will users see the site and what, in general terms, will they find?
This site will not be designed to be:
Look and Feel
Will your site be a fixed width site or variable width site? Fixed width sites are always the same on every screen. Variable (also called Flexible) width sites usually expand the site content to take up the entire width of the screen.
How many columns will your site have? One? Two? Three?
Will your site have a header area?
Will your site have a footer area?
What will be the color scheme? Do we need to match logo colors or the colors of existing marketing material? Will you use the same color scheme throughout the site, or will you differentiate areas of the site with different color schemes?
Will you have a global (top) navigation? Drop down menus?
Will you have a side navigation (left or right)?
Do you wish to include a “breadcrumbs” trail? This is a little trail that tells you where you are in the site.
Do you wish to include contact forms? General contact form? Volunteer form?
Do you wish to include a News widget (a widget is a small area of the screen and may contain a form, a button, a video, a slideshow, an image, or text)?
Do you wish to include an Events widget?
Do you wish to include a Calendar widget?
Do you wish to include advertising or sponsor widgets?
Do you wish to publish RSS feeds to other sites? RSS is a method of sharing information between websites. Publishing RSS information allows other sites to show it in their site automatically.
Do you wish to include RSS feeds from other sites on your site? Subscribing to RSS information on another site allows you to present it in your site automatically.
Do you wish to have a mobile device compatible theme? This may be the same theme but formatted for a mobile device, or this may be a separate theme.
Will your site include Users outside of your organization staff?
Will you be selling items through your site?
Will you be taking donations through your site?
Do you plan to include video and audio (“podcast”) files on your site?
Do you wish to include a back-end database for data that does not fit easily into a standard WordPress content type? For example, this may be a database that you already have and use in your organization such as a referral, or member, or contact database. Salesforce, CiviCRM, and SugarCRM come to mind.
Do you wish to include event registration (sign-ups)?
Do you wish to include a wiki?
Do you wish to include a blog? Multiple blogs?
Do you wish to include a message forum?
Do you wish to include interactive GIS mapping? Think Google maps and Google Earth as examples.
Members and Member Types Section
Will you have Membership sign up?
Will Members be given access to special areas of the site?
Member Types: Will you have different member levels?
Member Sign-up: Do you wish to have members sign up through this site, or using another site or service?
Member Payment: Do you wish to have members pay through your site, or through another site or service?
Major Requirements Section
Hosting Environment: Do you have a preferred web host, or hosting environment?
Ongoing Support: Will you require a support contract for site support, or handle support on a time and materials basis?
DNS Control: Do you have control of your DNS records, or can they be moved?
Bandwidth: Do you have minimum bandwidth requirements?
Backup: Do you require off-site backup?
Username and Password Requirements: Do you have specific username and password requirements that you would like to enforce on this website?
SSL Certificates: Do you require SSL certificates (for online sales, or donations) to come from a specific provider?
Reporting and Web Statistics Section
Downloadable Reports: Do you require downloadable statistics reports?
Pre-Defined Reports: Do you have pre-defined statistics reports that need to be duplicated as part of funder, State or Federal requirements?
User Defined Reports: Do you have a need for user-defined (ad hoc) statistics reports?