Requirements gathering for web projects

The process of requirements gathering can be difficult at times, but is obviously essential if you want to build a solid foundation for your web project. Below are some free resources which will hopefully improve your ability to define requirements effectively, whether for your own sites or when helping clients to formulate their needs.

Articles and podcasts

A good article to start with is Requirements Gathering Essentials by Martin Bauer. It emphasises the need to think through a project properly before starting, but sensibly advises that there is no “right” method for all projects. “Instead, it prepares you to formulate your own, customised requirements gathering procedure by explaining the key issues you should consider.”

There are a couple of nice discussions about requirements available on which are also great for newcomers to the topic. Show 23 has a segment on “scoping your web project” and Show 102 includes Marcus Lillington talking about requirements capture.

Identifying Website Requirements by Kathryn Summers & Michael Summers is a useful long article on getting requirements and understanding your clients’ perspective.

Content? Or Dis-content by Garth A. Buchholz looks at the important topic of properly planning content requirements.

Dealing with clients is an art unto itself. See 20 Ways to Keep Clients Coming Back For More by Akash Mehta for some ideas about this. Interviewing abilities and meeting management skills will also help. Amplifying your Effectiveness has an article on “Building a requirements foundation through customer interviews”, which isn’t specifically about website requirements but has a lot of good general advice about questioning clients. From a more focused designer perspective, Rookie Designer has a podcast segment on controlling a meeting which you may also find useful.

Checklists and standards

Hobo’s website design & development project checklist is a useful list of “what things a web designer should make clear to their client and get agreements on when developing any website”, including things which can be overlooked, like planning for training and updates for a CMS if one is being used.’s web design checklist is written from a UK legal viewpoint for people commissioning a website, but could also be useful for designers.

Michael Cordova has written a comprehensive web design checklist which can be given to clients.

For scoping accessibility requirements, the PAS 78 standard is available for free. Obviously you should also refer to the WCAG accessibility checklist.

Examples of questions and forms for clients

You can download an example client survey for a website redesign from the site for the book “Web ReDesign 2.0: Workflow that works”, along with plenty of other useful stuff. The book itself is great, but obviously it’s aimed at redesigns rather than sites which are being build from scratch.

You can also look at web design agencies’ sites to get some ideas from how other people capture requirements from clients. Below are some companies who publish requirements-gathering material on their websites.

Anything else?

Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list. Please comment if you want to add any links to resources which you’ve found particularly useful.

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Laura-JaneFebruary 26th, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Thanks! Useful links, exactly what I was looking for.

Alfonso GonzalezMay 1st, 2011 at 4:29 am

I am agree, very useful links. Thanks a lot!!

Jonathan HassellApril 16th, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Thanks for including PAS 78 in your section on scoping accessibility requirements.

Please note that PAS 78 has now been superseded by BS 8878 – a full Standard that provides guidance to non-technical website owners for the whole process of commissioning, procuring and producing accessible websites. BS 8878 enhances PAS 78 to show more clearly how accessibility requirements should be researched, specified, developed and tested against for modern 2012 websites and mobile apps.

BS 8878′s process (see: web project managers and product managers a blueprint for knowing how to consider the needs of disabled and elderly users across the whole of a website’s lifecycle.

You can find more information about BS8878, including the official slides from its launch, case studies of organisations using BS 8878, detailed blogs on its use by SMEs, tools and training for applying the Standard, and news on its progress towards becoming an International Standard, at

Jonathan Hassell
Lead-author of BS 8878

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