How to for non-programmer : formulate web-programming requirements

for designing a website by a third party

how to ask and what to ask

Example : I want to hire someone to design or implement any existing " Photo Voting Contest " with some extra features.

How do I formulate my needs for a web-programmer to understand me ?

Are there any templates ? Books ?

  • I'm in shock that someone is asking this question. Perhaps there is hope for our job getting easier in the future! Mar 18, 2011 at 1:58

2 Answers 2


How do I formulate my needs for a web-programmer to understand me ?

One approach is this.

  1. Define the users. Who will use the site? List every role that people will play.

  2. Define the use cases. What will a person do? Each use case has a simple summary: "In the role of {some role}, I need {some data or processing} so that I can {some result}." It's called a User Story. http://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/topics/user-stories

  3. Add details to the use cases. A use case is an interaction between the actor and the system. The actor does something and the system responds. Write down the actor's action and the system's response. A few sentences at most. An interaction that has more than 4 or 5 steps is probably two separate interactions that got stuck together.


  4. Review the package with some people who can ask intelligent questions. Clean up the actors, and the use cases so that they make sense to other people.


Start with use case diagrams. Make them follow simple workflows for how a user does action X. Being able to outline workflow will help outline business rules for the application and potentially some data involved with it as well.

It will provide the web programmer places to ask questions such as "I see in this step the user enters their name. Do you want that information stored permanently for the next time they come to the site, or does it only need to stay for the duration of the time on the site?"

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.