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Requirements Specification

Be it e-commerce projects, a service, an idea on process improvement, or the next big thing, you should round out the concept in terms of market perspectives, business opportunities, set-up costs, and finally write a requirements specification.

When you formally write a concept, the following guidelines may be helpful to describe it completely and unambiguously. (Each rule of thumb is followed by an example in italics.)

  1. Try to describe all key objects exactly and precisely. Be concrete. ("There are exactly three main objects: users, editorial texts and products.")
  2. Describe what role these objects play from a human perspective  ("The overall design's purpose is to encourage users to buy useful products with the help of editorial texts. A user may be interested in sports and health, thus be reading articles on work-out machines and commenting on them, yielding them useful recommendations on related health products and offerings.")
  3. Describe all properties of these objects ("Users have a name, age, e-mail address, and a gender. Editorial texts and products tend to be categorized by age and gender group"), and try to find bridges immediately (In our example, it is clear that all main content types have common properties that make it easy to connect them across type boundaries).
  4. Describe what a user can do with all of the objects described so far ("A user can comment on products"), and consider if the logic is consistent one is quickly able to understand it, i.e. build patterns ("A user can comment on all main content types").
  5. Check if the model is complete ("A user can also give a star-rating of all main content types"), or whether this causes illogical situations (that one user can star-rate another user is perhaps not wanted, whereas such a rating makes perfect sense with products and editorial texts), i.e. you can deliberately deviate from certain patterns. ("A user can provide contents and products with a star rating").
  6. Be precise and concise, and define everything you write about. ("Commenting means that the user can write a text of 500 characters and then save it. A comment is always tied to exactly one user, the one who wrote it. His profile picture is displayed next to the comment").
  7. As far as possible, keep data protection and human intuition in mind. If someone sprayed something on the living room wallpaper of another person, that person would probably want to repaint the wall and then call the police (i.e. "Users can also delete their comments"; "A user can use the Report Button complain about discriminatory or inappropriate comments of other users.")
  8. Ideally, divide the parts of the concept into a descriptive representation (the marketing, the unique selling proposition) and the functional description (the core of the specification itself).

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