The Axe man commeth?

Jun 26th, 2010No Comments

So how many web sites do you suppose the UK government has and how much do you think it costs them (or should I say “us”)? Now bear in mind that these numbers won’t include many indirectly funded organisations, but how does 820 sound? On an annual basis that’s £94 million in software development costs and £32 million on staff.

Now it’s a bit difficult to apportion the £94 million as we don’t know how many of those sites were worked on during any given year, but that’s around £40k per yer per website in terms of staff costs. Obviously the implication is that the average costs of developing a website is somewhere up in the quarter to half a million pound range …

Looking more closely, the UK Trade and Investment website averaged around 28k users per month and cost over £4m to build. Just to put these figures into context, the site you’re looking at (www.linux.co.uk) has the same sort of numbers in terms of average users, but the actual development cost was $37 and around ‘two man weeks’, mostly entering data.

Apparently the new government is to conduct a review of all their websites with a view to axing those that are not efficient, no, those that don’t make money, no, those that serve no purpose .. hang on, what was the criteria again?

To quote the BBC’s technology correspondent; “What will be difficult is to push ahead with the process of putting more government services online while still cutting the costs of sites.”

As a small-time web developer, it’s like looking through a door into a parallel universe, there are literally thousands of good web designers out there, mostly using Open Source based systems turning out websites that are far better than, for example, the UK Trade and Investment site, for, well, saying “a fraction” doesn’t really do the difference justice. You’ll note for example that even after spending £4m they still can’t get a menu system that works properly when viewed in Google Chrome!

What they really need is a chain-saw and someone who’s prepared to use it, apparently the last time they got their axe out they managed to fell 24 sites over three years, you’ve got to wonder whether the axe cost more then the sites it felled .. and we wonder why there’s no money left …

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