Dear agency

I regret to inform you that my bullshit sensor is running on highly sensitive this week. You provided colleagues seeking my advice a quote of £60K for developing a website.

I understand you have overheads to account for. Company car. Office space. MacBook Pro. Energy bills. CEO, sales and developer salaries.

Understood and a given, but I pointed out to my colleagues that in public service terms £60K is the equivalent of a senior manager’s annual salary.

Are you saying it will take you a year to develop the website? No, it’s true, a bespoke ecommerce solution could well demand thousands of hours of developer time, easily eating through a budget like that.

But that’s not what you were quoting for. This was a quote for a WordPress site, using off the peg components.

You would basically be developing a WordPress theme, most likely recycling code you’ve used before, if not straight up using a third-party theme you purchased for $60.

Yes, I’ve been here before with crappy design agencies charging extortionate fees for crappy inaccessible websites they didn’t even build themselves, then charging the customer extortionate fees for simple changes, explaining to the techphobic client that they’re complex and time-consuming.

That illusion collapsed the moment they decided to ask my opinion, after bravely going it alone for months. At which point I advised them that such a change would require approximately five minutes of a developer’s time.

I don’t mean to diminish what we do, but developing a WordPress theme is not rocket science. Starting from scratch, a really bespoke theme might take a month of a developer’s time. So, fine, let’s grant you a few thousand for your efforts.

What’s the rest for? Consultancy? Maybe. Content development? Nope, that’s not included. Graphic design? Given. Photography? Ooh. Tesla Model 3? Eco is king.

For context, £60K is what you’d expect to pay for a modest extension on your average semi. You could argue that a recycled PHP snippet is worth the price of Kingspan insulating board. You could argue that your lightly modified CSS has the same value as three metrewide aluminium bifold doors.

Well, you can argue anything when quoting clients £60K to develop a website they could set up themselves using a software-as-a-service ecommerce platform in the cloud for a flat subscription of $40-$80 a month.

As it happens, that’s what I advised those colleagues to do. It’s a revenue cost, sure. But even at $1K annually, it’s a no brainer. That’s what you’re charging the customer annually just for “security updates”.

Which would be grand, except when I obtained an admin login for their existing site, their WordPress core was several updates behind, leaving it exposed to critical XSS vulnerabilities patched months ago. Great service!

Maybe that’s what you were angling for anyway. Was it like one of those builders quotes you get when they have no interest in actually taking on the job? Could be.

Maybe I’m just in the wrong job, earning way less than my due. But you see, I don’t personally find it very ethical exaggerating the cost of service by preying on the customer’s ignorance. But maybe that’s just me.

Good luck with next one.

Yours etc.

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