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:
- Subject-matter experts, advisors, and reviewers
- 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 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.)
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 to meet the deadline. Launching an educational Web site prior to the broadcast of a program can help build the program's 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 interactive features that make use of straightforward HTML coding.
- Create a small number of formats and templates and reuse them throughout the site.
- Use focused, limited content.
- Use research (and when possible, Web-savvy staff) from other aspects of the project.
- Resist the urge to add content and features to the site 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 features
- Use of rich media, such as video, audio, Flash, and Shockwave
- New features or major alterations to your plan mid-production
Don't reject a more robust site simply because it is more expensive. You may experience a greater return on your investment by increasing the value of the education component.
Budgeting a Web site is more of an art than a science; it can be difficult even for seasoned Web producers, designers, and developers to estimate the time they will need to complete a large-scale project. Therefore, be prepared to make adjustments to the site's content and features to keep your budget on track.