(Note that this post has been festering for a few years now, and is not inspired by actual, recent events. This wasn’t supposed to be a rant. It was supposed to be a post linking to some really cool new tools, with a brief intro. Oh, well. I’ll do that later.)
One of the things that has always nagged me about the profession of Web development is the apparent low bar of entry. “Anyone can make a Web site” (capital “W”, two words, please) is the wisdom du jour. I often hear from prospective clients, “That can’t be that difficult can it?” Along with the hyperbolic (though truthy) “My 11 year old neighbor could make me a site for $20!” This sometimes plays more realistically as “Gary’s Professional Web Sites* down the street said they could do it for $200. Why are you asking for $10k?”
While it is true that almost anybody can place .html files on the Internet (capital “I” please), saying that “anyone can make a Web site” is only true in the same way that anyone can build a house. I could probably (ignoring appropriate authorization from the city) construct a “building” with a floor, four walls, and a roof. I might even be able to divide said edifice into several rooms, and I might even be able to run electricity to it such that lights turn on.
This does not mean that I have created a safe, healthy place to live.
So, while there are no city codes that govern our trade (there are some federal ones, depending on who your client is), there are professional standards to be lived up to, and most importantly, best practices in coding, much research in usability and effectiveness, and performance, security, and maintainability standards to be considered!
So, the next time someone offers to build you a Web site for $200 (or probably even $2500), pass. You will be throwing your money down the tube(s).
How much did it cost you to set up your store front? You are building a virtual one of those. How much do you pay in wages and salaries a year? You are hiring an employee who never sleeps, eats, or gets sick. How much money do you spend on marketing in a year? You are building your most important and visible piece of marketing.
Invest in a good Web site. (Says the professional Web consultant…)
Sorry about the rant. I feel much better now.
* All names are completely fictional and not intended to represent an actual company I can immediately call to mind… except maybe that one…