I received an email from a friend early today about a company that won a tender to build The Free State provincial government website for R140 million. It wasn’t long after receiving this email that the story flew through the social channels like wild fire, and rightfully so.
The company who won the tender was Cherry Online and the person who granted the tender was Elzake Rockman (Elzabe Rockman is the Director General of the Free State Provincial Government), who disputed the amount and said it was actually R40 million. Very little information has been made public about the whole situation or who exactly was involved and what the agreement was, but MyBroadBand did a good job at digging into the details. It’s worth reading that article if you’re not up to speed with this story.
Now, I’m not going to go on about how the price was too much, because anyone who’s ever had a website built or has been commissioned to build a website will know that R40 million is far too much, let alone R140 million. I’ve been involved in several projects that costed in at the R500,000 – R1,000,000 range, but believe you me, we were building highly intelligent bespoke systems, not WordPress installs. With all that being said, I have something that I wanted to share which has annoyed me about the whole situation and I feel like I need to get it off my chest, so that’s what I’m going to do.
In between all the opinions flying around, there was a common trend that I picked up on and that was people saying: It’s WordPress.. just buy a $40 theme, slap it on WordPress, make a few tweaks and you’re done. Now, I agree that the end product provided by Cherry Online certainly doesn’t warrant R40 million, not even 1 million, hell, not even R100,000 but I do get annoyed with every Tom, Dick and Harry claiming to be able to do it in a couple hours, yet when I spend hours reaching out to find people to put websites together, suddenly I’m quoted R20,000+ .. “but it should only take a few hours?”. I should state that the very people who made these comments are people who I have spoken to before and/or have worked with and/or have worked with someone I know.
I get my back up because I run a digital marketing agency where we build websites, small ones, medium sized ones and big ones, and we do a hell of a good job, but it doesn’t take just a few hours to assemble a website on WordPress for a client, not unless you’ve been doing it a long time and you have the easiest client in the world who isn’t too worried about their brand being represented online (haha). Another thing that’s important to note is that all these people are neglecting to build in the time it takes to take a brief, court a potential customer and set up a server. I want to put all of these things out there because before I know it, everyone who comes to me for a quote is going to expect a beautiful content management system for R5,000 and to be perfectly honest, it’s not feasible to build websites at that cost, not unless you’re a freelancer with very low overheads and clients who are incredibly easy. I think that web designers, web developers and all the people in this industry should be making an effort to share knowledge and educate people about the process of building a website. People should not be so quick to jump and say that it only takes a few hours, because at the end of the day, their sly and attempted clever comments are incorrect and made out of context.
Before I sign off, I want to mention a few things:
- The company completely ripped off the Freestate Government, regardless of anything that is said.
- Ripping people off is uncool, just remember, karma is a bitch.
- A successful website will not cost you only R5,000, or at least, 99% of the time it won’t.
- If this was a clever campaign by Cherry Online to draw lots of back links to the website, kudos ;)
- Ace Magashule, the Premier of the Free State Province in South Africa, is getting a lot of flack from the public on Twitter, take a look here.
So, there are my thoughts. Love them, hate them, you’re opinion is always welcome ;)
Update: Here is a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with the building of the website: http://www.gadget.co.za/pebble.asp?relid=6025