Generation of website requirements, isn’t something that’s a good practice – it’s essential. How so? Well, read on and we will delve a little more into how this works.

First of all, it is paramount that as a service provider, you remember one cardinal rule – what a client says they need and what they actually need are two very different things.  This is not to say that clients don’t know what they’re talking about. It merely means that understanding the website requirements, requires more than just guesswork, assumption or speculation.

It is imperative to remember that any service/product be it virtual or physical needs to achieve two things:

  1. It needs to cater to user expectations.
  2. It needs to be designed, keeping the company’s performance goals and requirements in mind as well.

Consider the following scenario – You’re building a website for a fashion magazine and have a fantastic design in mind. This design, does not account for inclusion of banner ads as you feel that would throw the design off and also, potential buyers are not really fond of banner ads. While this is a logical line of reasoning,  it does not take into consideration that advertising revenue, helps fund the magazine’s day to day operations.

In this case, only  user expectations/experience is being catered to and while the intention might be noble, it’s a very non-sustainable approach. Alternatively, placing banner ads all over a website to generate as much revenue as possible, may totally ruin the user experience.

The goal is to hit the sweet spot between user experience and organizational expectations. Both need to co-exist without one overpowering the other.

Therefore,  one cannot start to develop without the  generation of the website requirements. I use the word “generation” instead of “gathering” because the latter, makes it seem like requirements are fruit  – waiting to be plucked from a tree. This is not the case. You don’t know what the real requirements are until you  sit down and gauge them against pre-determined criteria.

Eg. A client may believe that they need a Twitter feed in top of their sidebar and be convinced that they MUST have it placed that way. However, inclusion of a Twitter feed, at the top, means that placement of a banner ad moves down because there’s no space for it above the Twitter feed. However, moving the banner ad placement down, means that less people are likely to click on that ad and this does not bode well with potential advertisers.

What do we do? What’s more important? A user who can see the company’s Twitter feed straight away or an advertiser who’s happy with positioning of his ad?

While discussing this with your client, you may both even come to the realization that you  don’t want the Twitter feed or the banner ad – but in this case, the decision will be based off an initial discussion and not as a result of going live with a website and then realizing that something doesn’t work the way it should.

This is just ONE example. Designing and developing a website is like buying a house – sure, you can get a really cheap one but you can believe that corners and processes have been cut in order to make it cheap.

The bottom line?

In short, you get what you pay for. In fact, architecture is a perfect analogy – what you think you need and what you actually need are two different things. While you may want a website that looks super futuristic  and media rich, it also needs to work well. A vendor who is able to articulate this as well as help you make more informed decisions, through a series of idea generation phases, is one who will more often than not, give you a highly superior product/service – and you can bet your audience will be able to tell the difference.