There is an old saying in the consulting business.

"We can give you three things:

  1. A high quality deliverable
  2. High speed turnaround
  3. Low cost

Now, choose any two."

"I want to have my cake...

The simplicity of this equation is lost on many executives when it comes to website production. They seem to believe the development process can somehow be 'improvised'.

"You aren't called a web-master for nothing. Make it happen!"

The truth, of course, is more complicated. If a high quality deliverable is required, adequate resourcing and time must be provided. In their absence, the value of a development will inevitably suffer. The challenge for a webmaster is to make this clear.

...and eat it too!"

Happily, there is a way through this conundrum. It comes down to what a business is prepared to accept in return for a given sum of money.

For example, does the business want to create a highly complex eCommerce site or a more simple brochureware site. Both are possible — but for the same sum of money, the quality will differ significantly. This difference can be explained by way of the Scale of the two sites.

Website Scale is a means for categorising a site in terms of 3 factors:

  1. Size: The time needed to produce and maintain content.
  2. Complexity: The intricacy of the technology used for hosting and content delivery.
  3. Levels of Activity: The levels of traffic & engagement.

For example, Amazon.com is large in scale. That is, it is very large, has a highly complex infrastructure and receives millions of visitors per week. In contrast, this website is small in scale — it has little content, uses basic technology and is relatively quiet.

Bang for your buck

The decision faced by stakeholders is this: Based on a given sum of money and the scale of the site desired, what level of quality are they prepared to tolerate?

For example, imagine that a business has €100,000 to spend. Should it...

  1. Commission a small-scale website knowing it will be of high quality and can be delivered in a relatively short period of time? (This is because €100,000 is a quite a lot of money for such a site and developments of this type can be expedited reasonably fast.)
  2. Create a large-scale site knowing it will inevitably be of lesser quality and may take much longer to develop? (This is because €100,000 is a small base from which to build a complex, eCommerce site.)

For my part, I believe that a business should focus on quality first, by building a small scale site and then growing organically from there. Any organisation that is driven by the idea that it can have it all (high quality, low cost, high speed) is delusional and will have to learn the hard way how to create a successful web presence.