How to Scope Your CMS Website in 8 Steps

If you’re not sure where to start when scoping your new website, our step-by-step guide will help keep you on the straight and narrow so no detail goes missed.

We’ve all walked out of a supermarket with more than we went in for. 

Maybe you didn’t make a list. Or you didn’t grab a basket. Or you went in hungry and all self-restraint parted with the doors. Whatever the trigger, your project went way out of scope. 

When we’re talking about the weekly shop, this isn’t the end of the world. A list. A basket. Dinner before, not after. You know what to do next time to keep your trip on track. 

There’s a little more complexity involved when you’re scoping a new company website. And for big, once-in-a-blue-moon projects like this, the kind with multiple moving parts, people to please, and budgets to meet, scoping them can be a lot for anyone to get their head around. 

To find out more about where to start and what to include so you capture everything you need and give your project the best possible chance of a smooth run, read on.

Prefer to get your hands on our free CMS scoping template? Click here to download your copy now.


How to scope your CMS project in eight steps 

  1. Define the decision-maker
  2. Choose your CMS platform
  3. Size up the project
  4. Decide on the level of design work
  5. Document which pages need copy
  6. Identify which regions/languages it needs to support
  7. List the integrations that need to be set up
  8. Do you have the in-house resources to deliver this?


Who’s pulling the strings?

Whoever’s pulling the strings, they’re all going to care about different things. 

Defining who the decision-maker is will help you understand what to prioritise and it’ll help keep your project on track. And a project needs to stay on track if it’s going to stay in scope.

So whether it’s the project lead, your head of marketing, or someone else entirely, defining who the decision-maker is sets a clear chain of command for everyone to follow.


Are you switching platforms?

You might have all the functionality you need with your current provider or you might need to migrate to a new platform to create a website that can actually deliver what you need it to do.

Whether or not you need to migrate your website to a new platform is going to impact the scope of your project in a big way. Moving platforms will add a lot of steps and you’ll probably need to work with a third party to deliver it successfully. It will cost more. 

All this will be worth it when the new website delivers what it needs to — but for the purposes of scoping the project and setting expectations, it’s something to define early.

Related read: How Much Does It Cost to Build a Website on HubSpot CMS?


How big does it need to be?

Size and scope go hand in hand, and by size here we mean total number of website pages. The more pages your new website needs, the bigger the project scope will be. 

If your website already has lots of pages, this might not come as a shock, but if it doesn’t and you need to create lots of new pages for the website (or all your existing pages need updating, for example), not everyone involved in the project will automatically appreciate how much work this involves or how much time it will take.

Capturing these details in your scoping document — how many new pages you need, what kind of pages they are, whether they need design or copy or both — is a great way of communicating this information to all parties involved in the project from the outset so there are no nasty surprises later on down the line when someone questions how long it will take.


A picture says a thousand words…

When creating a new website, many businesses take the opportunity to revisit their branding in line with where their company is now, where the market is, and what their customers want.

But this will expand the scope of the project and will require more time/budget. It might impact your choice of platform (see “Are you switching platforms?” above) and depending on your in-house skills, it may require external support. Do you have a designer on the team?

Scoping the level of design work involved in the new website project will help you to better plan the project, manage your timeline, and budget accordingly. 


…but you’ll also want words

How many of the existing pages will need rewriting and how much copy will you need written for any new pages?

Copywriting takes time and expertise. Like design, it’s easy to underestimate how much work will go into finding the right words for your new website.

  • Each page will need a brief. 
  • What is the target keyword for the page?
  • Who will write the copy?
  • Who will edit the copy or give feedback to the writer?
  • Who has the authority to sign off the pages?

What your website says is just as (if not more) important as how it looks. Together, copy and design shape the experience your users have when they visit your site.


Vous parlez français?

A key scoping question is which languages and regions the website needs to serve. 

If you operate in multiple regions marked by different languages, your website might perform best if there are different versions to serve those regions.

  • Users will have a better experience navigating a language with which they’re more familiar. 
  • Analytics (and the insights you draw from them) might be more powerful segmented by region.
  • Reporting by region becomes so much easier.

As well as different languages, you might want to consider if you need the ability to partition the website so certain teams can only access their region’s pages, for example. This will make managing and updating your websites much easier. But not every platform does this.

Understanding how many versions of your website you might need, which languages they should be in, and how to manage those sites from your end is an important consideration.


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Who needs what integrating where?

Many websites today are the product of years of innovation. Adds-ons, apps, and all kinds of other tools have been plugged into the main business software to provide the business with the functionality it needs.

  • Some of these tools might have been used once and forgotten about.
  • Others you’d like to use but they don’t work anymore.
  • Or there’s an updated version available and you haven’t updated to it yet.

Some of them might not even integrate with your core platform anymore or require a great deal of manual work in order to get the two tools/systems running together. 

As part of your scoping exercise, you need to understand:

  1. How many integrations the business currently has
  2. How many it actually uses
  3. How many it needs goings forward
  4. Whether they’ll integrate natively with the new website or require manual setup 

And if you need to set up integrations manually, is your team capable of doing so?

Documenting this will stand you in good stead for understanding how much additional technical work will need to be delivered as part of the new website build and whether you can accomplish said work in-house with your current skills/resources or bring in some help.

Find out more: What to Expect When Working with Us on a CMS Project


For expert support, download our CMS scoping template

If you’d like further support, either with planning, implementing the above steps, or both, you’re free to download a copy of our CMS scoping template. 

Defining your website requirements now sets your project up for success, and the CMS scoping template is a helpful way to frame all of the above criteria (and then some) to help you understand the cost, timeframes, and scope of your new website project.

And if are interested in speaking with a website development partner — be that us or anyone else you have lined up — your completed template will quickly bring them up to speed on the scope of the project and how they can help, so you get the website you asked for.

To download your copy of the CMS scoping template, click the image below.

Download my copy ofthe CMS scoping template now


HubSpot CMS Scoping Template

Use our CMS scoping template to provide your HubSpot CMS development partner with exactly what they need to know to build your new website.