The functional specification or spec describes in detail how a website operates from the point of view of the user. They may touch on technical issues but only where it helps enforce the site’s functionality. They range in size, with functional specs for complex sites running to 100 pages or more.
Remember, though, that although the functional spec will naturally touch on technical elements, it is not a technical document. It should be written clearly for an audience who are not necessarily technical in background. Avoid technical language or acronyms, and if you must use them include a non-technical definition.
The exact content of a functional specification will vary from job to job but they all share some common sections. Continue reading
My last post mentioned ways that you can describe website functionality. I want to explore those methods in more detail, beginning with sketching.
Sketching is a perfect way of getting you ideas down on paper visually and quickly. They can be drawn informally in a meeting to almost instantly describe the functionality you are talking about, or you can take more care over them and use them for a tool to brief designers or developers.
However you use them, remember sketching is not about design, it’s a tool that helps you to capture ideas or express an concept visually. You don’t have to be an artist to sketch, though the more you practice, the better you become. Continue reading
As websites become more and more complex it becomes increasingly difficult to explain and document their functionality but, more than ever, the need to do so is critical. Accurately defining how a website operates informs stakeholders (those who have commissioned the site, either a client or in house) as well as developers.
Below I’ve listed nine techniques that you can use to describe functionality, and included the strengths and weaknesses of each. Continue reading
The secret: make it as easy as possible.
You’re running a successful charity, you get plenty of people visiting your website, and people appear to engage with the information and content you provide, but there’s a vital key ingredient missing: Your hordes of eager visitors are failing to put their mouse where their money is. Don’t feel bad; you’d be surprised to learn how many people get donation buttons wrong. Here’s how to do them right… Continue reading
Writing for the web requires a different approach and style than writing for printed media. People who use the web do not behave like people reading a book. They are usually looking for specific information.
A Neilson Norman Group study found that only 16% of visitors will read a web page word for word, the other 84% simply skip-read the text. Continue reading
It may not be the sexiest part of web development, but let’s face it: in many situations, an URL is going to be the first interaction with your website. They might have read it off your business card, on the side of one of your building or a vehicle, or perhaps been given the link to an interesting article by a friend. In this article, we’ll take a look at what makes a good URL, and what the advantages are of having a good URL structure. Continue reading
Jakob Nielsen’s Useit website is the perfect technical example of usability: logically structured, free of unnecessary graphics with clear, concise copy. But, is it a site that people will want to use? Continue reading
Commenting about how users read the web, usability expert Jakob Nielsen believes that actually,
Flawless spelling, eye catching pictures and bright colours on a website are all very well but research suggests that visitors will most often scan a page before delving into detailed reading.
Usability has become a popular buzz word in web design but in the past, usability guidelines relied on common sense or basic user testing with websites. However, in the past few years, accurate eye tracking technology has enabled researchers to pinpoint exactly how websites are read, revealing the common ‘hotspots’ which attract users and how to improve online writing.
Today’s philanthropic kids are tomorrow’s donors, so charity websites should inform and educate in order to stimulate children’s interest in charitable causes.
Raising funds will be any charity’s priority, so websites tend to be built with the target donor audience in mind, where naturally, adults are high on the agenda. Jumping to the conclusion that a website is an adult-only domain could be limiting your PR potential.
The web is an excellent resource for raising public awareness among young people which can often go untapped through poorly designed or non existent websites. According to a recent USA study, 83% of teens are regularly online, so neglecting a younger demographic is clearly a missed opportunity to increase web traffic. Continue reading
What ever happened to accessibilty? A few years ago websites were being built with alternative text for images, scalable font sizes and semantic markup. Now it appears that everyone has abandoned accessibility in preference for a rich media experience or very design-heavy pages.
I’ve heard various reasons for this trend but the most prevalent is simply that clients don’t want to pay for the extra planning and more detailed coding that decent accessibility requires. Ok, that’s true; defining the structure of an accessible site will take time, and its HTML and CSS code requires a greater attention to detail but the benefits outweigh those disadvantages.
Here are five good reasons for having a site that is accessible for all. Continue reading