Tips & Advice

Aren’t Requirements and Specifications the SAME THING? (Tuesdays with Joe, Episode 06)

Here’s a question for you:

Would you build a house without first knowing how many rooms it should have?

Of course not.

Here’s another:

What would you do when, 3 months after construction starts, your spouse insists you need another bedroom?

You’d be stuck, of course.

You’d be scrambling to figure out a way to minimize the amount of work you have to undo (and redo). You’d be hoping for some miracle to give you the time, budget and people to take on the additional work.

And get it done on the same deadline.

This is exactly what happens when managers, product owners, developers and designers treat requirements like specifications.

Fact is, the two are not the same thing.

The primary reason so many development teams find themselves painted into a corner — or struggling to stem a rising tide of new or changing requirements — is that there is a widespread misunderstanding about what both of these terms actually mean.

In this episode of Tuesdays with Joe, I’m going to clear the air once and for all about the difference between requirements and specifications. And I’m willing to bet that your work (and stress level) will benefit greatly from applying what you hear.

Wishing you painless projects and smashing successes — GIVE GOOD UX!

— Joe

P.S. Our team is busy creating new Tuesdays with Joe episodes for you, and we want them to be as relevant and useful to you as possible. You can help us do that by telling us:

What specific UX challenge are you actively trying to solve right now?

Email your answers to, let us know if it’s OK to use your name, and we’ll consider your topic for an upcoming show!