Costing concerns

Plenty of myths have been generated concerning the cost of having a Web site developed. Figures in the hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars have been bandied about - no doubt scaring off a lot of people. Gavin Nealand, from Sydney-based Barbosa which specialises in placing Web development personnel, says that, on average, good Web developers, including database specialists, usually charge in the vicinity of $85 per hour.

Unfortunately, the waters are muddied by the numerous pricing models used to cost out the development of a site. Some developers charge on a time and materials basis, whereas others charge per Web page. Yet others simply charge a flat figure for the total cost of a project including sourcing hardware and software, Web hosting and marketing of the site.

Further complications arise from the different technologies which can be employed to develop a site - varying the per-hour or per-page pricing. For example, adding Flash animations or Real Video clips can increase the per-hour charge to $150. Dedicated SQL Server experts have been known to charge $200 plus per hour.

Graphics is another area where costs can escalate. If you cannot supply any images yourself, the Web developer will normally charge you for any custom graphics they create. This may be on an hourly basis or per image. In some cases, the developer may retain the rights to these images and charge ongoing royalty fees.

Alexandra Peters from Melbourne-based Carbon Places, who has developed sites for the Federal Minister for Health and Hewlett-Packard, among many others, estimates that, on average, a 15-page site for someone with a corporate identity would cost in the vicinity of $5000. She adds, however, that other factors such as having to pay licence fees for images and photographs may increase this.

Peters believes that it is important to have the entire project specification in writing. This stops any potential confusion or misinterpretations during the development phase.

"No matter what type of site you are having developed, before you engage a company, get a quote in writing that clearly states the work to be undertaken, and the price," she said.

In comparison, Dale Harper of Sydney-based BIGdy, which specialises in Web-based SQL Server applications, suggests that development of a database-driven Web site would start at around $18,000. He believes full e-commerce capable sites would cost a lot more depending upon their complexity and whether third party facilities are used for credit card verification.

"A recent e-commerce, database-driven site we quoted on, including hardware, was around the $120,000 mark," Harper said. "Of this, around $80,000 is the Web development component. On top of this cost is the co-location Web hosting at a major ISP priced at around $850/month."

Harper is quick to point out that a site of this magnitude is very much the exception, rather than the rule. This project would span six months and involve a number of different personnel contributing different skills to the site's development.

Along with Alexandra Peters and Marek Sumalski, Harper agrees that the initial price point for a small business Web site with no database connectivity or animations, and user supplied graphics and text, is in the $5000 bracket area.

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