All phases have pre-determined deliverables, milestones,and timelines. The approval of deliverables by the client signals the end of the phase. A signed contract specifying the product design, cost, schedule, copyright, etcetera, are what make up a development agreement. After the discovery phase, the prize is the contract. The Functional Specification is the deliverable at completion of the design phase.
The audience for the functional specification is the team of professionals who will make the product: producer, director, researchers, artists, engineers, sound designers, quality assurance testers, marketing and sales staff. It is the job of the functional specification to break the client’s broad ideas into detailed descriptions of what it does, how it is used, and what it looks like. The specification doesn’t say anything about how it is implemented, but it does include all the interactions from a user’s perspective. Creating this blueprint saves time and money as it is easier and cheaper to change a Word document or PowerPoint presentation than to re-program an entire application if the client suddenly recalls another feature the product simply must have. The spec also operates as an agreement between the client and developer – after approval from both parties, additional changes have to be negotiated. This saves the developer a lot of work, and creates a more trustworthy deadline.
- What is the application going to do?
- What it is going to look like?
- What happens when a user clicks on a certain button?
- How do the individual elements of the application work together?
- What is the application supposed to be?
- What is it supposed to do?
- Who is the target audience?
- Are there metrics? Does the application have to meet a certain revenue?
- Does the application have previous versions? What was good and bad about them?
- Testing – when, where, who, how?
Contents of the spec
The writer needs to be a person whose discipline is design and user-interface, and is a skilled and detailed writer. Familiarity with user experience issues is a definite plus. The writer has to visualize how the different features work, how a user might use each feature, and how navigation through the information will be done. This has to be written down in the greatest detail, and be in balance with current technological limitations and business demands. The contents of the spec include:
- Executive summary
- Global conventions
- Node map
- Node-by-node descriptions
- Screen layouts
- Action/Animation descriptions
Things still to do:
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