Complete guide to user requirements for a website design

User requirements are the specific needs and wants of a user that must be taken into account during the web design quality assurance process. The user requirements gathering process includes surveys, interviews, focus groups, and more. Once you determine user requirements and set an acceptance criteria checklist for each, you should put them in a website requirements document. Those will help you with the UX design process by specifying what the visitor should see on the website, how it should work, and any special considerations that need to be taken into account. In this guide, our web design agency in Chicago will dive deep into the topic of user requirements for a website design with the goal of helping you plan the user experience quality assurance for your web project.

user requirements for a website design
Table of Contents

Functional and non-functional user requirements for a website design

Before you start writing user requirements for a website design project you are working on, it is vital to understand the difference between functional and non-functional requirements.

Functional requirements are the specific needs of the users that the website design must meet in order to be usable. Those help you define what the system should do once the user performs a certain action on your website. These requirements might include things like the ability to sign in, make a purchase, or find information. Functional requirements are usually easier to define than non-functional ones. Let’s see an example of functional requirements:
  • A confirmation email is sent to the user once he/she tries to sign up
Non-functional requirements help you define how the system should behave in different circumstances and where the limits are set. These requirements might be related to the look and feel of the website, the layout, SEO and Site Speed, the design of the pages, and more – so you can think of them as product properties. Here is an example of non-functional requirements:
  • The page should load within 2 seconds when the number of users on a website is 2.000

Ensure these requirements are comprehensively tested during the quality assurance process to avoid any bugs after launching the final version of the website. But before you start filling your website design requirements list, it is a good idea to try to understand what users actually want from your website.

Accessibility guidelines to keep in mind during the UX design process

Website accessibility guidelines WCAG are a set of best practices that help people with disabilities use the internet. These guidelines help web designers to make websites easier to use, by ensuring they are accessible to everyone. Guidelines cover everything from how text should be formatted, how images and other design elements can be used, to how software should be designed to be user-friendly. To ensure that your website will be accessible to your visitors, you need to keep WCAG guidelines in mind when creating user requirements for a website design and during all the phases of your website building project.  Those guidelines are sorted into the following categories:
Operable

You need to make sure that every task is performable on both keyboard and mouse, that users have enough time to complete a task, that they can easily find the content of their interest, that your content won’t cause seizures, and similar. For example, if there are time-limited tasks on your website, including an option for users to turn off or extend the limit should be written in your website development checklist.

Perceivable

You need to ensure that all users can easily perceive your content. Provide text alternatives for videos and images, plan on implementing audio alternatives for textual content, and ensure it can be consumed by visitors who use screen readers.

Understandable

Maximizing the chances that visitors will be able to make sense of your content is vital in web design. You can do it by avoiding complex words and instructions,  explaining error messages and interactive website design elements in detail. This will improve the readability and predictability of your website, making it more accessible to users.

Robust

Through quality assurance, you need to ensure that your website is accessible from all the different browsers and devices people use to explore the internet. This means that your content should be displayed in the way you intended, and the website functions without any errors no matter the browser or device.

What do users want from your website?

Before you start writing user requirements for a website design you need to deeply understand your target audience. This will help you plan your web project’s UX design and content strategy to fit the needs of your ideal customer. The key point is that the quality assurance phase starts long before coding, and continues even after the website is launched. You need to constantly seek for audience’s feedback, and conducting interviews with your customers will allow you to improve the quality of your UX design. However, as there are a few things that all the audiences have in common – when creating a website project checklist, keep the following in mind:

Build trust with customers

As people mostly buy products and services from businesses they trust, the e-Commerce development process needs to be focused on building a website that invokes trustworthiness. First impressions are lasting impressions, and there are several ways in which web strategists can secure positive ones:

Mirror the words of your target audience

Experience in providing website copywriting services in Chicago has taught us that imitating the tone of your target audience can enormously increase a website’s conversion rates. Avoid industry jargon that your ideal customer might not be able to quickly understand. By using words that match your target audience’s vocabulary, you can appear more trustworthy.

Provide reviews and testimonials

Before buying a product or service from you, people usually look for previous customers’ opinions. Including reviews and testimonials in your web design is a great way to give social proof and build trust with your potential clients.

Evoke emotions with visuals

Powerful way to connect with the target audience is by including photos and videos that evoke trust across your landing pages. The human brain perceives visual information much faster, and by not using them you are missing a large opportunity to create a more credible look for your website.

Avoid distractive design elements

Applying the concepts of minimalism can help you avoid distracting visitors away from the most important message on your website. During the quality assurance, you need to ensure that all website design elements that don’t serve any purpose are removed. This will allow you to build trust with your target audience quicker, by providing professional-looking landing pages.

Precisely define how you can help them

Once users land on your website, it should be perfectly clear to them exactly how your products or services can help them achieve their goals. Don’t expect your visitors to explore your website for long period just to find what your business is offering. Conducting tests with real users during the quality assurance process can help you get a better idea of whether your message is clear enough  for everyone to understand it.

Useful and creative content

Most users will come to your website with one goal – to find useful information. To improve customer retention for your business, you need to ensure that only high-quality content ends up on your website. But to be able to deliver engaging content, you need to plan the content structure in advance, of course, with end users in mind. When defining user requirements for a website design, you need to:

  • Plan a site map: Planning a site map upfront will make the whole design process smoother. It will allow you to organize your content in a user-friendly manner and secure that visitors can find any page quickly. The best practice is to Include the exact location of each page in your website requirements documents.
  • Create page templates: To secure the best possible user experience on your website, it is important to adjust the design of pages with different types of content. Including page templates for your homepage, service pages, blog posts, and more in your website design requirements list will help you keep your web build projects on track.
  • Define types of content: Define different types of content your users might look for on your website, such as blog articles, products, testimonials, and similar. This will allow you to plan your navigation more efficiently.
web design guidelines

Before starting a user experience design process, it is crucial to put yourself in the website visitor’s shoes. Just upon arriving on your website, people will quickly skim to see how design elements are organized and then search for the information they were looking for in the first place. When writing user requirements for a website design project, you need to plan an intuitive user interface design your website visitors will be able to quickly get used to.

You need to ensure that the navigation menu is simple to understand and placed exactly where users expect it to be. The best practice is to limit the number of items to seven and give each category a relevant name that won’t confuse users. Let’s see what types of navigation menus exist, so that you can include the one that best suits your target audience in your quality assurance for website development checklist:

Horizontal navigation bar

Probably the most popular navigation menu type, that is usually located at the top of the page, just below the header. The horizontal navigation bar goes in the left-to-right direction. This type of menu will leave more space for placing other website design elements in the body area of your pages. As it is used on most websites, a horizontal navigation bar is the safest bet when designing a user experience. In your website requirements document, write down the website pages that need to be placed in the navigation menu since most of your visitors will look for them once they arrive.

Vertical sidebar navigation menu

This type of menu appears on the right or left side and usually stretches from the top to the bottom of the page. Because it allows web strategists to create a clear hierarchy of navigation items, vertical sidebar menus are often used when building websites with a lot of content. Another scenario in which you might want to ask your web development team to build a vertical sidebar menu is when you want to insert longer link texts.

Dropdown navigation menu

Another type of navigation menu you can put in your website requirements document when building websites that are content-rich. This approach will allow you to list the most pages in the top-level menu while providing links to other sections in a dropdown menu. That’s why it is ideal to utilize the dropdown menu when building e-commerce sites, which usually have many categories.

Hamburger navigation menu

This is a type of navigation menu that appears when you hover your mouse or click over a “hamburger” button. It is the most popular menu type for mobile website design because it occupies the least space until the user clicks on it. However, during the quality assurance phase, you need to ensure that the hamburger navigation menu functions well across different devices to avoid ruining the user experience and be able to balance your mobile vs desktop conversion rates.

Footer navigation menu

One of the website design elements that you shouldn’t overlook when creating a web development checklist is the footer navigation menu. As its name suggests, it appears at the bottom of your web pages and provides links to other useful parts of your website, such as the home page, the about us page, contact pages, service pages, etc. You can also use it to provide more information about your website that is not of vital importance to most users.

It is also crucial to understand that people will decide to visit your website for various reasons.  Besides designing your navigation for ideal customers, ensure that the quality assurance of your user experience design covers the needs of your staff, journalists, other business owners, and other potential users. The users finding any web page within three actions should be included in your acceptance criteria checklist. This will allow you to organize website design elements in a user-friendly manner.

Typography

When writing user requirements for a website design, it is also crucial not to overlook the importance of typography in UX design. To enhance the readability and accessibility of your web design define the following elements in your website requirements document:

Typefaces

When writing user requirements for a website design it is important to define the typeface classes you are going to use in your web project. The two most popular are serif and san serif typefaces. Serif typefaces are characterized by the small, decorative lines that run along the edges of the letters. San serif typefaces do not have these lines and are less formal. They are often used for headlines or other text that is meant to be read quickly. You can combine serif and san serif typefaces for achieving the optimal user experience.

The number of fonts

To create a high-converting digital landscape, it is vital not to lose the preferred number of fonts out of your website design process focus. The best practice is to use a maximum of two fonts on your website. To create better contrast and guide users smoothly, we recommend using one serif and one san serif font. However, you won’t make a mistake if you stick to only one font in your web project, just ensure that it is listed in your website requirements document to avoid confusing your design teams.

Line heights

Line height is the distance between the lines in a text or graphic element on a web page. It affects how easy it is to read the text or see the graphics. A line height of 1.5 (150% of the font size) is common, but you can specify another line height in your website design requirements document if you believe it will make the text or graphics more legible.

Letter spacing

Letter spacing is the distance between letters in a word or phrase. It is measured in points and is set in pixels. The default setting for most browsers is 16px. When you change the letter spacing, it will affect all the text on the page. You can also use CSS to set letter spacing for individual elements. It is vital to write down the preferred letter spacing in your website requirements document so that your design teams can follow the plan and quality assurance goes smoother.

trust as an user requirement for website design

Site speed

A fast website is important for the user experience because it allows the user to interact with the site quickly. Slow websites usually have higher bounce rates, fewer returning visitors, and fewer conversions. That’s why you should not forget about page speed during your quality assurance process. Understanding the average PageSpeed score will help you better define the speed target to include in your website requirements document. Slow loading times might also prevent your website from ranking high in search engines. To ensure your website will be fast enough to provide a good user experience for the visitors, pay close attention to the following factors when writing user requirements for a website design:
Page load time

Around 75 percent of people will return to the SERP if your page doesn’t fully load within 3 seconds. Ideally, you should aim for less than a second page load time, but if achieving such speed doesn’t seem realistic, settle for nothing less than a 1-2 seconds loading time during the requirements gathering process for your web project. Every quality assurance checklist for a website design needs to contain page load time as one of the top priorities.

Time To First Byte (TTFB)

This metric indicates the time browsers need to wait before they start obtaining data from the server. During your quality assurance, you should aim to reduce TTFB to a maximum of 200ms. Enabling browser catching is one of the best ways to achieve a better TTFB score.

The number of images

While images are a powerful way to increase conversion rates by presenting your products in the best light, they are usually the cause of slow page load times. If you can’t avoid having a lot of images on your website, experts from our SEO firm in Chicago recommend optimizing image file sizes. This approach will allow you to keep the image quality without sacrificing page speed.

Amount of traffic

The number of users who visit your website simultaneously can have a significant impact on your website speed. Keeping the desired amount of traffic in mind when writing a website requirements document will allow you to choose the best hosting option and adjust your web project design on time.

Is your site mobile responsive?

As more and more people are using smartphones and tablets to browse the internet, your web development team needs to ensure the mobile-friendliness of the website during the design process. If your website is hard to use on mobile devices, most users will leave before even exploring your offers.  That’s why it is crucial to utilize the power of responsive web design to make your website look and function equally well on desktop and mobile devices. Mobile-friendly web design will secure a better user experience and give you an SEO boost. A quality assurance checklist is unfinished until it contains the detailed plan for testing a website on various screen sizes.

Importance of UX

User experience is the totality of a user’s interaction with your website design. It encompasses all aspects of the design and development process, from the initial conception of the system to the final delivery to the end user. Poor user experience can lead to frustrated customers and lost business opportunities. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as poorly designed websites, difficult-to-use interfaces, slow response times, and more. That’s why you need a comprehensive UX design quality assurance checklist and a website requirements document that will help your development and design teams easily keep the website building project on track.

As you can see, creating a list of user requirements for a website design project can help you organize your team and build a visually appealing website that is also bug-free.

If you found this article helpful, but are still hungry for knowledge that can help you enhance your business processes, we recommend visiting our blog and following Alpha Efficiency on social media.

Brian Djordjevic
About The Author

Brian Dordevic

Brian is Marketing Strategic Planner with a passion for all things digital. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or schedule a consultation call with him.

Want to start your creative project today? Fill out this form, and let’s discuss your next steps.

Tell Us About Your Project.

Yes, I'm interested in discussing a

project for

. My name is


and you can email me at