What to do before requesting a contract
Before even contacting us, there are a number of actions that the customer should take, in order to present the precise requirements of the site to us, at the time of the first (free) consultation. If we don't know what the task is, we cannot even estimate the time required, costs and the success of the final product.
The "Look and Feel" of the site
A further requirement is that the customer must be fairly clear of what is required as a "look and feel", for the site. The best way to do that is to browse the web, making a note of those sites which are considered to be in something of the style and functionality, that is wanted.
A good place to start the imagination rolling is CSS ZenGarden.
Collections of Joomla templates, both free and at a small price, can be found at Siteground, Joomla Templates, Template Monster, Joomla Shack and many other places.
Getting a free template, or buying one, would be the cheapest option. Customizing templates, for special purposes, other than logos and small house-style changes, would cost more.
All or most start-up content should be gathered together, in advance, and declared at the first consultation. This may include text, images, video, software add-ons, such as Silverlight, Flash etc., gadgets, tools and widget requirements, mash-up needs and documents. The formats, in which these may be stored are many and varied, but, if there is conversion work to do, extra charges may ensue, for the time and tools, required to complete this conversion.
Text should ideally be in digital format. This may be plain text, Word document(s), HTML etc. Text on paper can be converted, but it is not advised, because this can be a time-consuming, and therefore expensive, process.
Images should be in the jpg, gif or png format, for the web. Most graphic programs can save to or export to these formats. Other formats would require conversion. This includes scanning work for paper images, e.g. old photos, menus, programmes, posters, flyers,certificates and the like.
Video or other multimedia
For Video, we can even convert from VHS to the web, but this is very time-consuming and therefore costs considerably more. Similarly OCR (converting text on paper to digital format) and other old media to web translations may be an expensive process, depending on the needs.
Development of rich content pages, such as Flash and Silverlight.may also prove to be quite costly, so consider whether this is necessary.
Another, often faster technique to impliment, is the process of mash-up - or hybrid web applications. This involves embedding services from other web providers, such as Google, Amazon, Google Maps, Yahoo, YouTube, Flickr, Picassa, social networking sites etc., into your own site. A good, simple example, of this, is the free Google Maps service, which is used to display our geographical location, on this site. It may be simpler to place a reference to a YouTube video, Picassa or Flickr photo album, IMDB movie review or Amazon book reference, than to build it directly into the site, even though it would appear to be a part of the site.
If any extra features, such as specialist online web-forms, web-shops and shopping cart systems, secure online payment sytems, ticket-booking and reservation services etc. are required, then these requirements should be made clear.