Smaller projects can typically be assessed and defined in meeting duration of 1-
3 hours. Larger projects may take longer and need to be broken up into multiple
sessions with different stakeholders. How thorough you want to be may vary
depending on your client’s preferences. Your end goal of this session is to
define the following criteria of the project:
SEO / Search Engine Optimization Strategy
Keep in mind that many clients, especially on smaller projects, don’t really
know what they want and are likely expecting you to make recommendations.
When you have the information gathered, you should be ready to make your
design mockups and put together a binding agreement/statement of work.
Newcomers to requirements gathering often forget this key component, which is
to define what the client’s expectations are of this project. While it can be easy
to assume that they want to increase their business growth, that is too vague of a
goal and does not allow you to provide a proper strategy to meet their objective.
Additionally, some key functionality should be briefly discussed before diving
deeper into the other topics.
These criteria are:
What is the specific objective of this project, and how will we try to meet this goal?
2. Basic Features & Functionality
This should be a brief overview of a few key topics: Is this website going to be
responsive or have a mobile version? What are the key features of this site? For example,
this may have e-commerce capabilities, support multiple languages, or have a business
Discuss expectations and deliverables for project documentation and processes – this
includes how wireframes and mockups will be delivered, timeframe/project plan
(including project reporting aspects), how communications will be handled, and quality
assurance processes and standards. Smaller projects may not need a wireframe or project
plan (a projected deployment date will do), and quality assurance may be as simple as
discussing browser and device type support.
I typically cover how many design mockups will be expected for the client to
review – 2-3 options is usually sufficient. When diving deeper into the design
aspects available, I then decide on what to include on the different designs I will
provide. For example, one design could have a set of 2-3 chosen colors, be full
browser width, have square buttons, and have a menu spanning the top of the
site horizontally. A second option could have a set of 2 chosen colors, have a
max width of 1200px, have round buttons, and have a menu spanning vertically
on the left side.
Below is an outline with some notes of the topics to cover for the website
1. Review design Examples
I find that the best design samples can be found by reviewing competitor websites,
reviewing template designer demos, or viewing website design award sites.
Does the client want to redesign their logo? If so, define how they want it to look. Keep
in mind many clients already have marketing collateral in place and may not want to
change their logo.
3. Color Schemes
What colors do they want on their website elements? Usually 2-3 primary colors are
sufficient. Larger companies may have branding guidelines available that will already
contain color choices.
4. Design Mockups
How many design mockups should you provide? Usually 2-3 mockups is sufficient
5. Design Elements
Areas to discuss include:
Buttons/calls to action (square or rounded edges, gradients, etc.)
Website Dimensions (max-width, alignment, etc.)
Padding/Margins (more padding vs. tightly configured content)
Is the site going to be image-heavy? What kind of theme? (vectors, photography, or stock
images). Discuss a content to image ratio.
Horizontal or Vertical navigation? Fixed/”sticky” navigation or static?
The features that are implemented in the website can often be where many of
the hours of work estimated are used. While areas such as the design and layout
are easier to calculate the work hours (the variables are usually how many
pages, how many mockups provided, and page complexity), website features
can vary quite a bit. For example, an e-commerce site with many products and
variants will have many more hours allocated than a site with simple ecommerce
functionality for making a Paypal donation. Larger, more complex
projects should have more bullet points added for core features, and be more
detailed on their functionality.
1. Content Feeds
Discuss potential feeds – these could be either internal or external content. External
content sources include Facebook/Twitter feeds, aggregated content, or Yelp reviews.
Internal feeds could be content previews to other pages within the website.
2. Content/image sliders and rotators
Discuss if they want to have this feature or not. They are becoming very popular on
websites, and add some visual flair to home pages. Keep in mind that statistically they
are under-utilized by visitors (i.e. they don’t get clicked often), and are usually only
recommended for the visual benefits.
3. Core Features
This section is reserved for primary features of the website. If the website has ecommerce,
discuss products, product variants, checkout, payment options, etc. Try to
cover all the important aspects – usually you can find reference sites with similar features
that you can use as topics reference. Another topic to cover is integration with any
vendors or 3rd party software they use, and ask if they have any future implementations
planned. Keep in mind that it is crucial to define what is included in the project and what
This topic is should include forms used throughout the site, such as contact and
registration forms. Gather what information should be required to fill out on these forms,
and remember that registration forms should gather the bare minimum of information in
order to reduce bounce rates.
SEO / SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION STRATEGY
Depending on how many hours are allocated into SEO for the website
deployment, how thorough you want to be may vary. I believe that any website
should be initially setup properly for SEO, so always allot a base amount of
hours for this and discuss this topic. A basic understanding of targeted audience
and keywords should be garnished, which will help you with the
implementation and provide a good starting point should they decide to utilize
your SEO services.
1. Explanation of SEO
Start with explaining SEO and its benefits. Many clients do not understand what it is or
how beneficial it is to their business.
2. Company Profile
Gather a basic company profile – what they specialize in, what their plans are for
expansion (such as adding a new product line or service), and who their customers are.
Define who their competitors are – this will help you see how they achieve success and
analyse potential improvements.
4. Local vs. National/International
Define if their audience is local or on a national/international scale. This will dictate
keywords and organization of company profiles.
5. Targeted Keywords
What keywords does your client think would be relevant to their business? I advise doing
some research before-hand in order to get search statistics and provide some
Briefly cover Adword options so they are aware of the benefits. It is usually not a good
idea to start purchasing Adwords after a new website launch. It may be a possibility if
there is already analytics data available, but if there are major changes to site structure
and content, it is best to wait until the new website is indexed.
7. SEO Strategy
I don’t recommend going too in-depth on this topic in the initial requirements gathering
session. However, it is recommended to discuss what kind of benefits can be obtained
from long-term SEO campaigns, and your strategic approach.
The website layout is usually constructed around a wireframe and/or sitemap.
This will help decide what content will need to be written/carried over and the
overall layout. Smaller website projects are usually less strict in this area, and
may not need an actually wireframe or sitemap to be created. This is not
necessarily a bad thing, as it may give you some freedom to create a better user
experience (as long as you make the right decisions!). Even without generating
these documents, covering the following aspects is still important.
Discuss pages to be created or added to existing content. Also cover
main menu items, sub-menu items, and any additional menus used
throughout the site (including how they link to each-other).
b. Layout Consistency
Discuss if pages will follow the same layout across menu items and
while drilling into sub-menu items. It is usually a good practice to
follow the same general layout site-wide, however home page and
sidebar content can fluctuate when implementing different crossselling,
content feeds, or calls to action.
c. Header & Footer
Layout in these sections should be defined for mobile devices as well
(if this is a responsive site or has a mobile version)