So you’ve decided you need your own website or come up with an idea for an app. Full of hopes and enthusiasm, you reach out to designers and developers — and hit an obstacle: they expect a Technical Task (TT). What on earth is that? Some kind of document? You might feel like turning away and looking for someone who’s willing to do it without any questions, simply to get something that “looks nice and sells well.”
But the bitter truth is that it’s exactly what you’re not going to get. Which will result in shock, misunderstanding, and accusations. Nothing is working the way you need it to! It’s not what you wanted at all! It’s not what you paid for! Why did they misunderstand you when you made it all perfectly clear?
The answer is simple: without a Technical Task, no one will be able to realize your idea. If a designer or developer says they understand you perfectly and don’t need any TT, turn around and walk away.
What is TT?
TT is a written agreement between you and the contractor, a mutual vision of what your website or app should look like. However, TT is more than just a list of product requirements. It’s a document you can rely on to remind the contractor of their responsibilities and amend whenever something comes up that you don’t like. If you’re forced to switch to another contractor mid-work, you can always pass on the TT.
In short, you shouldn’t be scared when asked to write a TT. It’s when you’re not asked to do so that you should panic!
So, a TT will help you to:
- understand the kind of website you need;
- demand the contractor complete the full volume of work as defined in the TT;
- manage completion deadlines as specified in the TT for the web designer;
- get a better idea of the project’s features and layout based on prototypes developed in the TT.
Who should write the TT?
There’s a popular view that the TT should be written by the customer — after all, they know best what it is they want. It makes sense, but there are some problems with this approach.
Our experience of working with startups shows that clients often have no idea what to put in the TT. They can’t tell what is and isn’t important. They simply say things like, “I want a website like this,” “we need to increase sales,” or ask to “just make something that looks modern.” And that’s perfectly normal. You just want to buy a chair, nor listen to a lecture on timber production. People want to have a cool, marketable website; they don’t need to know the details about how it’s built. Nor do they have to. Moreover, for many people the terminology of web design and development might as well be a foreign language.
There’s no need for you to learn this cryptic language. Nobody expects you to. (Although we’d be happy to teach you if you want!) Keep in mind, however, that the contractor has no knowledge of all the intricacies of your business, your target audience and its problems, your supply and delivery channels, and so on. The contractor will need this info in any case, to be able to build a functioning website under your individual specs. So be ready to put in some effort: you will have to think it over, prepare information, make decisions, analyze various options. You can express any idea using simple words — you don’t have to use technical terms.
It’s great when customers come to us fully equipped with all the necessary info and a clear understanding of what they need. Others, however, have nothing beyond a vague idea. What should they do? Not everyone is willing to bring in a third party and spend money on it. These people need more than just a developer: they need an assistant and an advisor.
After a long time in this business, we have come to the conclusion that if the customer has no TT then it’s best to write it together. This is the most convenient option to save both time and money. We communicate to arrive at an understanding and a proper vision of what the website or the app should look like. Not only does this cooperation in preparing the TT save time and effort, but it also affects the end result. Agencies and digital studios that write TTs don’t care if your website works, they just do their job of collecting and collating the data. The customer and the developer, on the other hand, have a common interest and a mutual goal: a good-looking, functional, and convertible website. That’s why a collaboration between the customer and the contractor is the best option for those who have an idea but no TT.
To start with, we ask our customers to fill out a brief so that we can have proper terms of reference. It’s a set of questions that helps us save a lot of time and accomplish our goals faster. What else is the brief good for?
- it helps to break the task into manageable parts;
- it clarifies the overall context for all involved;
- it extracts the key info for accomplishing the task;
- in synchronizing the customer’s and the contractor’s expectations;
- it establishes key metrics.
The brief gives a general understanding of the specific task at hand. A well-thought-out brief is the first step on the path to accomplishing your project. The brief can serve both as a basis for the Technical Task or as separate terms of reference.
If you know exactly what you want you’ll have no trouble collaborating on a TT. If you’re not yet sure how to implement your idea, the brief will help you map out the direction you need to follow.
What does a TT contain?
- the main reason for creating the website, such as attracting traffic, increasing sales, or expanding the customer base;
- the company’s mission, products manufactured or sold, target audience;
- the way customer communications are handled;
- examples of other websites and designs you like;
- the company’s corporate style if you have one, or your idea of what it should be if you don’t;
- the desired corporate colors, fonts, slogans;
- the brand logo (if there is one or if it needs to be designed);
- content creation (specifying whether it’s part of the job or not);
- your draft proposals (if any), texts, photos or videos, and any inspirational materials.
We immerse ourselves in the project: collate all the relevant information, study it, ask questions if anything is unclear, and prepare a summary TT. The customer can then see what their website or app will look like and get an idea of how much it will cost. For the duration of the project, we become the customer’s partners and coauthors. We demonstrate every stage of the job so that everything is clear and understandable to the customer. Afterward, we work together on how to set priorities, how to build the website, how to launch it in stages, how to follow up on it to make sure the business takes off. It’s our common creation that we care for and supervise until the baby is strong enough to stand on its own. Then we can both be proud of its success.
The more marketing information and materials you have to launch your project, the better. If all you have is an idea, we will piece this puzzle together. Together we can do it!