Church Web Design Part 4: Getting a Proposal
Having met with the staff of my church, the vision for the new site was really starting to take shape. Now we were ready to begin talking with OurChurch.Com about getting a proposal for the project. But with the church finance board’s monthly meeting only 4 days away, could we get a proposal from OCC to them in time for the meeting or could missing that meeting delay the project for a month?
Step 1: The Consultation Request Form
The first step towards getting a proposal for a new website from OurChurch.Com is to complete the online consultation request form. The consultation request form helps a prospective web design client to understand the options they have and to then pass on to OCC’s sales staff an idea of what option they definitely want, what options they don’t want, and what options they’re unsure about. It also allows the prospective client to communicate the budget and the timeline they’re working within. That way when the initial phone consultation takes place, the OCC sales staff has a pretty good idea of what the client is looking for and what areas he needs to help the client make decisions.
Tim, our executive pastor, completed the consultation request form the week before. My meeting with the staff took place on a Tuesday and we then scheduled the initial phone consultation for Thursday.
Step 2: Sales Consultation
Tim and I did our initial phone call with Mark, OurChurch.Com’s president and director of sales. Mark started by asking Tim about our church’s current site. Tim explained that the current site was created with Dreamweaver, that we’re happy with the way it looks, but it’s very hard to update. We have to use Dreamweaver to update it and only one person is able to do that. We want a site that that we can easily update and can change and grow.
We talked about making it easier to navigate the site by adding “slide out” sub menus. This is something that the church had tried to include in the current design, but due to technical challenges could not be implemented.
Then Mark walked us through the all the options and functionality OurChurch.Com can put into a Custom CMS Express website. He explained each item, noted the indication we had made on the consultation request form, and gave Tim and I the opportunity to decide whether we wanted to include it in our site. Below is the list. It’s a long list of options, but we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted, so we blew through most of the items on the list relatively quickly but taking longer on the items where we weren’t quite sure.
Items you were interested in for your site:
- homepage: yes
- Other Pages: yes – may want as many as 30 pages transferred in from the current site
- Administrative Interface: yes
- Text Editor: yes
- Std Template: maybe – changed to no during call
- Dynamic Navigation: yes
- Contact Form: yes
- Statistics: yes
- Training: yes
- Stock Images: yes – changed to no during call (we have our own pictures)
- News Flash: yes – maybe – could also be auto-scrolling.
- Can graphical icons be included? Ask in technical consultation.
- Calendar: yes (calendar does not import from existing calendar
- Mini Calendar: maybe
- polls: maybe – changed to installed but not published during call
- Map: yes
- Christian Search: maybe – changed to installed but not published during call
- Christian News: maybe – changed to installed but not published during call
- Bible Search: maybe – changed to installed but not published during call
- Today’s Verse: maybe – changed to installed but not published during call
- Donations: maybe – changed to installed but not published during call
- Web Links: yes
- Newsletter: yes
- Newsletter Template: yes
- Media Gallery: yes
- Staff Directory: yes
- Do we need this or is a static page good enough? Staff directory gives the opportunity send a message without publishing their email address.
- Forum: yes – changed to no during call
- Community Builder: maybe – changed to no during call, could add later.
- Guestbook: maybe – changed to no during call
- Dynamic Menu With Submenus: yes
- Web Log: yes
- Can we have multiple blogs? Ask in technical consultation
- Premium Template: maybe – changed to no during call
- Custom Template: maybe – changed to yes during call
- Flash Animation: yes – changed to no during call, we’ll provide the Flash
- Ask in technical consultation about either an HTML homepage or separate template
- Help Desk: yes – changed to no during call
- Logo Design: maybe – changed to no during call
- Mini Gig Calendar: maybe – changed to no during call
- Upcoming Gigs Module: maybe – changed to no during call
- Book Us Form: yes – changed to no during call
- XE Music Gallery: yes – changed to no during call
- MP3 Player Module: yes – changed to no during call
- Event Registration: yes
- Does Cypress want to start accepting payment via paypal?
- Classified Ads and Needs/Help Board: maybe – changed to no during call, may add later
- Podcast: yes
- How do we migrate our current podcast?
- Document Manager: yes
Options Not Chosen:
- Prayer Requests: no – changed to yes during call
- Local Weather: no
- Private Messages: no
- Chat Room: no
- PayPal Shopping Cart: no
- Shopping Cart: no
- eCommerce Modules: no
- Gig Calendar: no
- Job Board: no
Whew! Again, that probably seems like a long list, but the whole phone call lasted a little over an hour. The outcome was that we had decided just about everything we wanted to include in the initial development of the new website.
Since Mark is the director of sales and not a website developer, there were a number technical questions that he could not answer. The next step in the process was for Mark, Tim, and I to do a technical consultation with Mike, the lead website developer at OurChurch.Com. Mark scheduled that meeting for 10:30 AM the next morning (Friday).
To expedite matters I sent Mike a list of 10 technical questions Tim and I had so if necessary he could research those items before the phone meeting.
Step 3: Technical Phone Consultation
Friday morning at 10:30 AM Mark, Mike, Tim, and I did a conference call to address the technical questions. Mike was able to address all 10 questions we sent him the previous afternoon:
- We (meaning the church) would like the new site to look as much like the current site as possible. That probably means creating 2 custom templates, one for the homepage and one for the rest of the site. Are there issues with that? Yes, can do that. Need all files from current Cypress account. Want slide-out, drop-down menus on all pages. Tim asked if the internal pages could have something like a “frozen” version of homepage as the header for the internal pages. Mike suggested a random image module that would take pictures randomly and display them as the header. Paul suggested creating a header for the internal pages by shrinking the images to 1/3 of the size and use 9 across the top.
- How close do you think you can come to duplicating the look of the homepage and the internal pages within the CMS? Almost identical. Page titles are images, they would have to be text. Would have to move. Homepage with two columns one for the current sermon series and one with an announcements scrolling newsflash.
- The original design of the CypressMeadows.org homepage had slide-out sub-menus, but the designer could not get the sub-menu items to slide out over the Flash so they had to be removed. Can you get the sub-menu items to slide out over the Flash? Or is there a way to do the sub-menuing in another way? Can be done.
- Does JACL (the component that enables the web administrator to grant other people editing rights to individual parts of the site) work with the calendar, event registration, and photo gallery components so that it multiple people can add/edit items to those components? For the calendar registered users could post to it but would have to be approved. Only administrators can add events to event registration.
- Does JACL have any sort of moderator/editor functionality so that after a content manager updates a page the changes would not be published until the moderator/editor signs off on them? If not, could a moderator/editor be notified of changes? No
- I know there were issues with the WordPress allowing multiple blogs, but using the blogging functionality built into Joomla and the blog modules, can more than one blog be set up? Yes. Set it up with JACL for a person to be in charge of a section.
- If yes (to #6), is adding new blogs something we could do or something OCC would have to do? Cypress can do it.
- We currently use WordPress for the combination sermon blog and podcast. Would we be able to migrate this to a redeveloped site? If so would the sermon notes be done in the blog and the sermon audio be done separately in the podcast component? Can manually import.
- Can the newsflash include graphical icons next to each item? Can the scrolling newsflash? Yes.
- Is there any way we could set things up so that when a user registers on the site they are automatically subscribed to the primary church newsletter? Or that there would be a subscribe checkbox on the registration form? I’m thinking the answer is no, but that would certainly simplify things and ensure a much higher subscription rate. No. We could include a link to the newsletter subscription in the email that goes out after a person registers
With this information, Tim and I decided to have OurChurch.Com develop two custom templates, one for the homepage and one for the internal pages. That would allow us to keep the homepage with the compact look, which is distinct from the rest of the pages while still giving us the ability to easily update it.
The final issue was how to get all the existing pages from the current website into the new website. Typically OurChurch.Com will set up the homepage and 3 additional web pages as a part of the custom design. During training, the client is shown how to add additional pages and then adds them after OCC’s development work is complete. However, clients always have the option to pay extra to have OCC add additional pages. So, should we pay OCC an about $400 to add the other pages or do that ourselves? At this point we decided to have OCC just do the standard 3 pages, but left open the possibility that we could pay them to do it later.
Step 4: The Proposal
Following the technical consultation, Mark put together a formal proposal. It listed all the options we had selected for the new Cypress Meadows website, included the price (approximately $3,000 minus my employee discount), explained critical security updates, and described the options for future maintenance. By late afternoon, we had a firm, fix-priced proposal which was forwarded on to the finance board in preparation for their meeting the next morning.
The bottom line is that we went from our first contact with OurChurch.Com to having all our questions answered and a proposal in hand in less than two days.
Find out next time what happened when the finance board reviewed the proposal.
Often times, this part of the process takes weeks instead of days. Here are some observations that can help a web administrator speed up the process.
- Know what you want. Clearly, one of the main reasons for the phone consultations is to get answers to questions about the various options and functionality. However, the more you can decide ahead of time, the better. What do you want your website to do?
- Know what you need to ask. It’s understandable that going into the consultation you won’t have all your design decisions made. However, you should go in with a list of questions that once answered will enable you to make the remaining decisions. Not sure if you want event registration? What do you need to know about event registration in order to make a decision?
- Have a flexible schedule during business hours. This may not be within your control, but the fact that Tim and I could schedule times for the two phone consultations during business hours with little advanced notice hastened the process.
- Make quick decisions. Tim and I made a number of decisions during each of the phone consultations. There would have been a notable delay if I was the only one on the phone call and then I had to go back to Tim for approval. There would have been even bigger delays if I had had to go back to the staff (or a board) and explain every option and get everyone’s approval. The proposal still had to be approved by the finance board, but the fact that there is a high level of trust – oversight without micromanagement – was a big plus in this process.
- Understand your website can always be changed. Everyone would like their website to be completely perfect at its initial launch, but that’s not likely. Fortunately, your website can always be changed. The design/template can be altered, additional functionality can be installed, and maintenance can be performed. So, use your best judgment when deciding what will go into the initial development, but don’t agonize over every detail.
If you found this article interesting or helpful, please vote for it on Blogs4God so others will see it.