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Web Development


The terms of reference for the development of the website become the first and one of the most important stages in the creation and launch of any advanced web project. On the competence of its preparation depends on the course and quality of work, as well as their consistency with the customer.

The higher quality will be drafted technical specifications, the faster and easier to realize all the stages and work on the launch and alignment of the website. That’s why the importance of this document should not be underestimated.

To time spent on the preparation of the job was not spent in waste, you need to start with its definition. The meaning of the terms of reference and their specifics should be understood not only by specialists working on the web resource but also by its future owners. Therefore, it is recommended to start with the concept of the terms of reference and consider all its features. And then figure out what should be included in it, and how to write it correctly.

This article will be of interest to all the professionals who are engaged in the development of websites (coders, developers, designers), project managers, heads of digital agencies, and business owners who turn to web studios.

What is a technical task?

As we promised, let’s start with the definition. A technical task is one or more documents that describe the requirements for a web resource and outline its goals. In addition, it contains the structure and methods for the development of the resource.

All of these and other paragraphs of the terms of reference should be spelled out very clearly and clearly so that all participants could without unnecessary questions understand how the whole process takes place. The speed of launching a project, its quality, and its success in the future all depend on correctly written requirements.

The main task of the ToR is the complete coordination of all types and stages of work between the customer and performers. In the future, the benefits of the terms of reference will be visible to both parties. Here are some samples. With the help of the ToR, the executor can:

  • Understand what the client needs. To do this, build a feedback loop with the customer, and all the responses received from him are recorded in the document.
  • Clearly define a list of requirements, the client’s wishes, and a list of works. In the course of development, the customer will not be able to radically change the project. All this is agreed upon and signed by both parties at the initial stages of the document.
  • Prove competence. Properly drafted terms of reference will show customers your professional level. This document will relieve the client company of any doubts about working with you.
  • Accelerate development. The ToR specifies the structure of the future site and all the elements. All that remains is their implementation according to a prepared plan of action.

For the client, the benefits of the document are also undeniable. With its help he will be able to:

  1. Know what he pays for and what he gets in the end. The structure of the resource will be specified at the preliminary stage. During this time, the customer can make changes and understand and see the layout of what his site will be like. 
  2. To be sure of the competence of the agency. Drawing up terms of reference with our agency is done with the participation of all teams, which will work with the website. This allows us to write all the stages clearly and understandably for the customer and provide him with all the necessary comments from the specialists. 
  3. Protect yourself from low-quality services. All types of services and guarantees of their performance are described in the document and signed by both parties.

Who complies

The terms of reference for the development of the site – the task of such specialists as business analysts, developers, and project managers. They can describe in detail and competently the entire course of work.

Trust the terms of reference and its preparation can even be a client, but in this case, it is unlikely to perform its functions. However, the participation of the customer in the preparation of TOR is welcome and consists of the following:

  • introducing experts to the company and the business;
  • setting goals for the website;
  • telling about their wishes regarding the design or functionality of the resource;
  • demonstration of examples of favorite sites;
  • providing all the necessary information for the executor.

Establish a good feedback loop between the client and the agency to create a web resource that meets all of the client’s business needs.

Write explicitly and accurately

For the client and executors to understand each other well and the specifics of the project, it is necessary to write the terms of reference for the development of the site clearly and simply. Otherwise, the parties may not reach an agreement.

Do not use subjective adjectives in the TOR ” nice”, “modern”, etc. Avoid such general phrases as “the site should like the customer” or “placement of expert content only”. Instead of such general and unsupported statements, add fact-proven information or figures.

All inaccurate and unproven practice statements should be removed from the terms of reference or reworded. For example, instead of the phrase “heavy loads” use the specifics “up to 70 000 users at a time”.

General information and complex terms

When drawing up the TOR, it is necessary to write a list of works and general information that will be useful for the whole team. It is better to place general information about the client’s company, product, audience, and the site’s purpose at the beginning of the document.

For the task to be clear and accessible to all participants in the project, complex terms should be additionally explained. A professionally written document is sure to include definitions of complex terms.

Website requirements

In the terms of reference, you can write that the website must work smoothly and display correctly in all browsers and smartphones. But this is a generalized formulation that every developer knows about. It is better to write specific data and figures on the performance and capabilities of the developed site.

You can write in detail about the technical requirements of the system, the loading speed of the site, the withstanding loads, and protection against viruses and hacker attacks.

Specify website structure

The structure of any web resource is its foundation. Therefore, it is necessary to coordinate it with the development team and the customer in the first place.

The structure can be shown schematically or as a list in the terms of reference. The main thing is to make available the layouts of the pages of the site, their possible content, and the transition between them.

Landing pages

To competently draw up TOR it is necessary to explain to the client what will be placed on each of the pages of the site. You can show the contents of the pages to the customer in two ways:

  • Drawing page layouts with their contents and showing them to the customer. He can agree on the layout or suggest his edits.
  • Listing the elements. For this method, it is sufficient to simply list the blocks of each page in a list with small explanations

Describe the site’s goals

It is impossible to write a competent TOR without a detailed description of the goals of a web resource. Scenarios for the use of the site by visitors must be demonstrated to the client with the help of a scheme:

  • customer activity;
  • the feedback from the site;
  • result.

This simple scheme is typical for the terms of reference of websites with interactive services. In the case of easier web resources, such as web pages or business cards, it is not required.

Filling the website (content)

Content plays an important role in any web resource. It can be different. Terms of reference that will not spell out the type of content and its costs will not facilitate the process of launching the site, but only make it more difficult. Therefore, the content approval stage is simply necessary.

It is important to agree with the customer on the type of information that will be posted on their website, and its cost if it will be written by third-party authors, at the initial stage. In the terms of reference, specify the type of content that will need to be prepared and the cost of it. Don’t forget to specify that the content will be unique, to give the customer an additional guarantee of quality.

Conclusions and structure of the ToR

The terms of reference for different types of projects can have different structures. It should take into account the specifics of the project and the sections required for each type of website. For example, a landing page and a full online store do not fit the same terms of reference because of the significant differences in the specifics of these web projects. After all, each of these types of sites has its purpose for which they are created.

But there is a general model for drawing up TOR. The general structure of the terms of reference for the development of the website looks like this:

  • information about the organization and its audience;
  • the goals and objectives of the Web site;
  • explanations of terms;
  • system requirements for the layout and operation of the site;
  • the structure of the web resource;
  • page designs;
  • landing pages;
  • types of content;
  • list of technologies used to implement the functionality of the website.

The terms of reference can be shorter or contain even more sections, depending on the type of project and additional customer requirements. We provide our clients with simple and clear terms of reference with a description of all types of work and their costs. You can view our successfully launched projects in the portfolio.