Joomla Project Costing - Site Planning and Design

By Justin Kerr
July 01, 2010

Table of Contents

Site Planning

Web site planning is an essential part of project costing, and the planning process may span from initial client contact through the final provision of planning documents as specified as a contract deliverable. Depending on the client and the project, planning materials can range from simple outlines to detailed request-for-proposal responses to packages of use-case models and wireframes.

No matter the size of the client, at least a couple hours will be required to define site content and features, and to draw up a written document that establishes the site plan. Prototaph Interactive accomplishes this by working with clients to create a "Web site taxonomy" that details common page elements, Web site features and a list of all pages comprising the content of the Web site. For flat-rate projects, clients must sign off on a finalized Web site taxonomy before any dependent work will be conducted. In this scenario, it is understood that any changes made to the taxonomy following final approval may result in cost overruns.

Web Site Visual Design

A Web site's visual design consists of the shapes, colors, branding elements and other graphic components that make up the visual packaging for Web site information and features. It is most often created using tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Fireworks, and the result is a flat, graphical preview of how the Web site will look.

The visual design process is a minefield for costing concerns. Everyone at the client will have an opinion about the design, even though they may not be able to articulate why they do or do not like something. A peanut gallery full of third-party opinions may cascade into the design discussion, as the client queries outside sources for additional opinions (whether they are qualified or not). Clients may also try to micro-manage the design process, requesting endless permutations of minor revisions.

Establishing a methodology for design and taking a leading role in the design discussion are two ways to control the costs of this process. Prototaph Interactive requires a finalized Web site taxonomy and a defined brand identity (including logo, fonts, colors, etc.) to be present before any visual design work begins. Querying clients about their market, their message and design ideas they like will result in initial Web site design conceptions that are well-received.

Revisions should focus on specific elements and the reasons behind a design change, and resolve issues one by one until the design is complete. Prototaph Interactive requires a final sign-off on the visual design before Joomla templating begins, and it is understood that any changes to the design following final approval may result in cost overruns.

Sometimes it is helpful to contractually establish how many initial design conceptions will be provided, and how many revisions will be conducted. Assuming the presence of a well-managed process and a talented art director, a Web site's visual design should take no more than 12 hours of time, and this includes as many initial conceptions and design revisions as will commonly be required.