Websites: $10K per page?

A Portland consultant says that good websites cost $10K per page. Yes, that’s 10,000 dollars.

For evidence, he cites the following:

Way back when, someone once wrote that, when you total up the true costs, a high-quality professional corporate web site costs $10k per page. It doesn’t matter how you do it – it doesn’t matter what kind of platform or technology you use… from Zero to the final, high-quality site will cost $10k per page.

I’m sorry, but I could not agree less. This is a ridiculous statement.

Put aside the fact that the cost of development tools and backend applications has gone down to approximately zero in the past few years (thank you, open source!). Put aside the fact that the frameworks and content management systems and information management systems have kept getting better and better.

Just look at the statement at face value, and it’s obviously off-base. Here’s how to prove it.

  1. Pick a major, corporate, well-done site. Say Sun Microsystems’s.
  2. Google only that site for the company name, in this case Sun.
  3. Note the number of results: in this case, over 48,000,000.
  4. Reduce the number by a factor of a hundred, as the company is likely to have a lot of pages with a lot of mentions of its name: 48,000. This is a guesstimate of the number of web pages at all the various domains, and sounds fairly reasonable, if not low. (Remember, Sun has developer sites, partner sites, documentation sites, you name it … all adding up to many, many pages.)
  5. Multiply 48,000 by the $10,000 figure cited: $480,000,000.
  6. Case closed.

Yes, that’s a whopping half billion dollars. Trust me, Sun has not spent that much on its website.

There’s a vital clue to the thing that the consultant isn’t grasping a couple of paragraphs in:

To start thinking about “true cost” you need to understand all the actual costs that go into a site. So let’s imagine that you need a 10 page corporate web site. Say it’s a simple marketing site – pushing the message and the brand in order to create brand awareness, brand affinity and to create demand for the product

10 pages? 10 pages? “Simple marketing site?” These are not corporate websites – these are Mom and Pop business card websites.

And “pushing the message and the brand in order to create brand awareness?” Umm … business card website, circa 1997.

Today, websites have to actually do something … and thanks to a thousand free tools, platforms, frameworks, applications, and scripts, can do so quite cheaply.

Cases in point:

  1. The cost to build Dropsend: $50,000
  2. The cost of building Jotspot: $100,000

Need I repeat myself? Case closed.