Did a website work as per the specification?

Did a web site work as per the specification?


A Web design and programming company was commissioned to produce an e-commerce Web site in mid 2004. The contract was worth up to £400,000 (including an element of profit sharing). The site was produced but failed to work as the client wished.

My involvement:

I was asked to assist in 2005. My role was to test the site and give my opinion about how it worked and whether it was working in accordance with the specification issued by the client.

I examined the specification and then tested each element of the Web site against it. Whilst I found that some parts of the Web site did not work in the best possible way, I also found that the specification was, in places, very vague about how the site should function.

It seemed to me that the initial part of the specification was very tight, giving the developer a great deal of guidance about how the sight should work. Maybe down to time constraints or other pressures, the specification got much more vague towards the end. This meant that some of the crucial e-commerce functionality was covered very sketchily. This allowed the developer to interpret the specification in a way that meant the site met the criteria laid down but did not work in the way the client would have liked when he viewed the final result.

Part of my role on this case was to attend a meeting at the developer's office with the client and his legal team present. We worked systematically through the points that were in dispute and tested each to see whether it functioned at all, and if so, according to the specification.

My recommendation:

My recommendation to the lawyers was that they suggest that their client settled with the programmer and then looked to improve the specification before continuing to work on the Web site.

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