Although the ultimate product of Web production is a technological presentation, the process of producing a Web site is people-intensive. So the bulk of your budget will involve staff time to conceive of and then put together the site.
You'll need to cover the following roles in your staffing plan:
- Producer (editorial guide and project manager)
- Graphic designer(s) (to help plan the site organization and develop screen layout, visual media elements, and navigation elements)
- Programmer(s) (to code the site in HTML and in other Web-related formats)
- Content coordinators (to find and track assets, clear rights, and handle assorted "paperwork")
- Specialized media developers (if your plan includes rich media such as video, audio, VR panoramas, etc.)
- Subject matter experts, advisors, and reviewers
Timing of your production cycle with respect to the rest of the project is crucial. If your site depends on information from other aspects of the project, you'll burn staff time if you begin too early. On the other hand, if your goal is to launch the site as a broadcast companion, you'll need to start early enough, with adequate information in hand, to meet the deadline. Also, launching an educational Web site prior to the release of a program can help build the audience.
While there's no hard and fast rule for how long a production takes, it's helpful to consider the scope of the Web formats you've selected.
The following directions will minimize actual production time:
- Use short, illustrated essays, with straightforward HTML coding.
- Use a small number of formats and templates, which are reused throughout the site.
- Use focused, limited content.
- Use research (and when possible, Web-savvy staff) from other aspects of the project.
- Stick to your project plan once production is under way.
On the other hand, a more robust site may be ultimately more interesting or useful to your audience, thus increasing the life of your program. But adding in the following will lengthen production time and increase your budget:
- Wider range of formats and templates, specialized for each element of the site
- A larger set of content topics and features
- Use of rich media, such as video, audio, Flash, VR panoramas
- New features or major alterations to your plan in mid-production
Don't reject a more robust site simply because it is more expensive. You may experience a greater return on youir investment by increasing the value of the education component.