TK, ToR, or terms of reference, is a document that indicates the purpose, structure, implementation methods, evaluation criteria and any other significant characteristics of the implementation of any project.
In this article we understand how to compile TK for the site developer, in what cases and who needs it, and also tell who should be responsible for its preparation.
- What is TK for a programmer and why does it need
- How to write TK on site development: important points
- How to write TK for the site
What is the terms of reference for the programmer and why does it need
The terms of reference for a programmer or web resource developer must be the first starting point for the start of work on creating a site. In TK, what needs to be done is prescribed, and the programmer himself chooses how he will solve the task and what to do in order to achieve the goal. If there are no tasks, but the goals are not approved, unclear or ambiguous, then there is nothing to solve or the solution will be wrong.
Often the customer is sure that the contractor must understand in advance what and in what form he wants to receive at the exit. And this is the main mistake, which from the first minutes of cooperation makes it ineffective and as a result problematic. Obvious things for one person are not necessarily obvious to another. It is important to remember this when it comes to service, which is what the creation of sites is.
TK, or brief, for a programmer you need to:
- the customer could indicate his requirements, wishes and any nuances that he wants to take into account (by the way, at this moment he himself can find some important, but not previously noticed moments);
- the contractor clearly understood that the customer intended to receive as a result of the provision of services;
- exclude any misunderstanding between the parties;
- find interesting solutions and finds that the customer might not have expected;
- perform a transparent calculation of the cost of services, understandable to both the customer and the contractor;
- be able to make a claim in the process or upon completion of work:
- to the customer, if the performer did not complete the entire volume of work or did something wrong as planned;
- the contractor, if the customer requires free to perform any action in excess of the pre-approved list;
- do not lose time when transferring a task to another performer.
Writing a terms of reference for developing an online store or any other site is a necessary stage in creating a web resource. It is all the more necessary if a third-party service provider does the work.
How to write TK on site development: important points
Who is the technical task?
The technical task does not just affect the final result. High-quality TK is almost 50 % the success of the entire web resource creation event. Therefore, it is important not only what should be written in it, but also who will be the author of the main document of the site developer.
There are three possible options.:
- The technical task is prepared by the customer
This option most often leads to a bunch of mistakes. The reason is simple - the customer is usually not a specialist in the field of programming, so for him it is a difficult (read - impossible) task. Of course, “needs an online store” is also TK, but it is clearly not enough to achieve a worthy result that will satisfy the customer.
- The technical task is the performer
The specialist prescribes the front of the work with clarifications, based on the previously voiced wishes of the customer. Ideally, a prototype site and page sketches are present in the technical task.
This is a much more successful option. It almost always avoids many problems and is suitable in most cases.
- TK is created by the customer and the contractor together
Both parties are actively involved in the process of creating the document. And this is an ideal option that excludes misunderstanding, errors and unaccounted moments.
During the preparation of TK for the development of the site, the customer expresses his wishes, the contractor turns them into structured data for work. It is possible to ask each other questions, to subtract controversial issues, to adjust and supplement the prototype, etc. before the start of the services and even during their provision.
Given the importance, and sometimes the duration and complexity of creating TK, some performers include it in the service bill.
What should be the volume of technical specifications for an online store or service site?
There is no universal list of items and the volume of TK text for the programmer. For small and template online stores, 1000 characters may be enough, technical tasks for creating some sites (both commercial and informational) can occupy 30, 50, and even 100 pages.
It all depends on the technical complexity of the project, the imagination of the customer and the professional capabilities of the performer. The source materials also matter. For example, having a brand beech will make life easier for designers.
What items should the programmer have the terms of reference?
The more information the customer will voice the desired site, the easier it will be for the developer to understand his task and offer ways to solve it. So, there is a high probability of achieving the goal and delight the client.
TK on the site can contain an almost unlimited number of points to complete. But there are several items that must be included in the document. Without them, the developer will not have a complete idea of what he should do.
List mandatory modules that must contain TK to develop the site.
1. General data:
- company information;
- mission and business goals;
- tasks and goals of the site;
- the nature of the target audience;
- product features.
This information does not directly relate to the technical points of creating the site. It may seem that the developer does not need it. But the more the team of performers will be immersed in the specifics of the company, the nature of its work and the nuances of the product, the better the result will be.
A competent developer will always be able to suggest interesting solutions based on this information. Given them, there is a chance to get more than the customer planned.
2. Introductory data:
- hosting information, if any, or server requirements;
- selected CMS or important details for its selection;
- used technologies and libraries;
- technical requirements for layout.
These are important nuances, without discussing them in advance, you can come to the result when everything is ready and liked by the customer, but cannot be used. Some solutions may not be feasible due to unaccounted information.
- color scheme;
- the format of the built-in elements and so on.
“Beautiful interface design” or “laundry background” is not design requirements. In TK for site developers, the customer must clearly indicate all the characteristic features of the appearance of the site, which they consider ideal for its web resource.
Even before the start of work, the programmer must clearly imagine what the site will be like, what pages and elements it should consist of, how they are combined and echoed. The path from one page to another is convenient to show using a flowchart.
5. Web resource prototype
Using the prototype site, you can think through and evaluate in advance the convenience of the location and functioning of the elements of each page of the web resource. In one of our articles we already wrote about, how to create a website prototype.
If there is no desire or ability to prepare a prototype, you can list each element of the page and clarify its purpose, feature of the work. It will be less visual, but it will allow the developer to more accurately understand customer expectations.
6. Content filling
The procedure for creating and publishing content must be approved in advance. There are two options to choose from:
- work with content takes on the developer
From content quality the effectiveness of SEO-movement largely depends. One of the indicators of content quality is its relevance. It provides for the updating of early publications, the placement of new useful articles, images and videos. Therefore, it is advisable to entrust the work with content to the developer if long-term cooperation is subsequently planned.
- responsibility for the content is borne by the customer
In this case, it is necessary to approve in advance the peculiarity of setting up the admin panel of the site and the procedure for posting publications, so that in the future the addition of content does not cause questions and problems for the customer.
TK compiled by programmers is always filled with professionalism. They may be incomprehensible or misinterpreted by the customer. This is unacceptable, as it can cause many problems in the future, when the developer indicated in TK and completed one thing, and the client represented a completely different one.
It is desirable here indicate all technical or other specific terms, that may raise questions or doubts about the customer.
The technical task is a document unique in each individual case. It may contain other information important for a particular project, a team of performers and a customer. For example, for sites with a non-standard interface, it is advisable to pre-write the use case.
Developers on how to write TK for a site
The personal preferences of the owner of the company are individual. Therefore, it is almost impossible to find an example of TK for a developer that fully meets the requirements of any site.
You can search for a ready list of requirements for a similar site and use it as a TK sample for a programmer. But in any case, it is necessary to adjust it for a single company, target audience, product, tasks.
Accuracy and Uniqueness
Signs and definitions that have an objective assessment (“beautiful photos”, “good usability”, “fast download”, etc.) are not suitable for TK. Just ideas about beauty, speed and “good” are purely individual.
Whenever possible, you must use the exact parameters indicated by the numeric values. It is better to designate the same colors with numbers, for example, in CMYK.
The less information that can be understood ambiguously, the better the result from the point of view of the customer and the simpler the task for the programmer.
The developer is not obliged to guess
Playing guessing with a programmer is not a good idea. He should not, and cannot try to understand what the customer had in mind or implied. That, which is obvious to the business owner, may be completely unobvious to others, including for the developer.
If there is no development clarification in TK cross-browser web resource, then the claim that the site is incorrectly displayed in Safari4 + will be unfounded.
Whenever it is possible not only to tell, but also to show what you like or, conversely, do not like, the customer needs to use it. With the help of illustrative examples, it is easier to explain what is at stake. This technique works especially well when the project owner is very remotely aware of the aspects of creating sites.
Visibility works great in the opposite direction. Before starting work, the developer is advised to show examples of using certain elements, demonstrate the layout of the future site. The more visual examples and samples will be filed with TK, the easier it is for the parties to understand each other.
The creation of any site can be simplified, and the result of the development of services should be made expected if the customer and the contractor agree on the task before starting work. The more complex the project, the more detailed the document should be, which lists the requirements for developing a future web resource.
Best if TK is created jointly by the owner and developer. So you can discuss in advance any incomprehensible moments, adjust the task and agree on any nuances. As a result, you can minimize cases of misunderstanding.
The technical task should contain maximum detailed information about the company, technical base, requirements and wishes of the customer. All parameters must be prescribed accurately to avoid ambiguity.
High-quality TK to the developer is the first and very important step towards creating a site that the customer considers ideal for his own business. This document saves time, money and nerves. to remake the non-functioning properly or not arranging the owner of the web resource.
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