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The value of a website

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I helped some friends moved house this weekend and they’d hired a “man with a van” to move the bigger items. We got chatting and he asked me what I did for a living to which I replied “Web Developer”. Bad move..

He then spent the next 10 minutes or so fuming about a website he’d recently had made for his business. About how it was “just a template” and the “company” were now “hassling him for money” and how they wanted more money to make changes to the site.

Now, this man had already done one removal that day and charged somewhere around £150 for half a day’s work. So let’s say he completes a minimum 3 moves a week for the sake of argument (paid in cash, of course!), equating to about £23000/year. And the reason for wanting a website would surely be as a marketing tool to generate more business and therefore money, not only for the current year but for years to come.

This man had paid the sum of £150 for the website described above, 0.6% of his annual turnover or the cost of one removal. I think this raises two questions: 1) who is making websites for £150?! and 2) who considers £150 a good amount to spend on a marketing tool?

As I said in my previous blog post, the value of websites are hard to determine, maybe down to the “I’ve got a friend’s son’s cousin that does websites” syndrome. But in this situation I found that, whilst sympathetic, it was very hard to not give the “you get what you pay for” talk. So I gave it to him.

I’m not really sure who’s to blame here, the customer obviously wants to get value for money and spend as little money as possible and the developer wants to attract clients with cheap prices. But we’re in a time now where the average customer has a much greater exposure to high quality websites than they would have done 10 years ago, it’s just they also believe that these websites cost the same to create as a 1 page 1999 static site. As more people move online and see the value of advertising and reaching customers, I think the days of the bob-a-job web designer/developer are over. They just can’t charge tiny prices and reach high expectations of today’s customer. Customers need clear justifications as where the costs are going and why they should invest the money required and the expected returns. I could go on about ROI, and value for money but I won’t…

The conversation ended with the gentleman in question asking me if I’d like to do his site for him. He wanted a site built from scratch, and another two sites to reflect two other domains he’d bought. Oh, and he wanted to be able to edit the pages and upload pictures… and some adverts doing for Gumtree and Google. “It’ll only take an hour or two, right? I don’t want to pay £150 again.”

You know what they say, once bitten, twice… bitten?

I didn’t give him my number.