The functional specification is invaluable as it serves as a guide for web developers about how to build a website and how the website will work. In addition, the ‘spec’ is also a guide for the Quality Assurance team to make sure the website is built to the specifications laid out in this document. The activity of writing the functional spec commences once the ‘kickoff’ meeting with the client to collect as much information about their preferences, goals, and ultimate web strategy has completed. The initial ‘big picture’ scope of a project is defined in a proposal but the purpose of the functional spec is to flesh out the scope details, identifying the visual and functional (how it works) aspects of a website.
To address the visual aspect of the website (look and feel), we start by building wire frames for the templates that will be used to create web pages. Typically, this consists of a home page template and internal templates for a simple website. Building wireframes is like constructing a building with Legos such that each block has a purpose. However, with a web template, you are plotting out the location of all the visual elements that make up a specific type of web page such as a rotating banners, navigation, text blocks, buttons, footer, and so on.
The functional analysis of a web page template is equally important in that it describes in detail what each element does, how it should behave, and how it will be implemented. For example, you can designate a block to be the main navigation but how will users navigate to secondary pages? Will the site require secondary navigation once on a subpage? What happens when a user submits a specific form? What are the typical workflows for visitors to the site? All of these details are key to ensuring the website is built to meet the expectations of the client. Most importantly, both Wakefly and our clients have a stake in this document from writing it to reviewing it—clearly an investment that contributes to the success of a project.