2) I'll bet something like Google's favicon cost WAY more than that.
3) 600 pounds isn't all that much when consulting work hourly rates are compared against it, and is practically nothing if they paid an actual designer.
It's easy to say "I could do that in 5 minutes." (cite: from the email exchange) But, could you? Including the design? And making sure after you shrunk it down it still looked okay? There's a good chance you'll need to go in there and draw each pixel by hand to make it look right (and it better be right).
Favicons are important, it's a mistake to believe they are always a 5 minute project.
(edited to add "always" to the last sentence)
Exactly. The government paid for a website maintenance contract. This was some of the maintenance done. They probably divided the maintenance done by the fee paid to arrive at the figure quoted. This doesn't account for the actual bulk of the maintenance expense, which is "being on call for maintenance requests".
I paid for a snow-plowing contract this year. There has not been much snow. Accordingly, I've paid hundreds of dollars per snow-plowing actually performed. This doesn't make it a bad deal, because the service I paid for is actually not "come and plow x times", it's "come and plow as many times as required for the year".
TL;DR: There's no story here, at all. Zero. At no point in time did anyone write a cheque for 585 pounds for a favicon. It's conceivable that the government overpaid for the whole website maintenance contract but there's zero evidence of that being true. Everyone commenting should be embarrassed.
Sounds facetious, but it's this transparency that enables public scrutiny (and outrage). The expenses debacle being one such example.
Oh what, you wanted to be paid to attend that two hour meeting on diversity? Well sorry...
EDIT: Here's my 30 second 'inverse and crop' favicon next to their £585 favicon. Not much pixel-pushing going on there... http://fanranked.com/ico_favicon.png
It's trivial to recreate the end result, but you can't ignore that the end result wasn't a foregone conclusion; ideas had to be floated and presented and agreed upon, etc. Especially with high-politic clients, getting consensus on even a small thing can take a lot of time.
What about the 3-5 comps the graphic artist did that were rejected by committee? Let's say there's 5 hours there. Then a meeting where some others sketch up their own ideas which could be done in MS Paint.
Then the artist gets to go back and implement that idea, which indeed probably took 5 minutes. But you still bill for an hour of your time, right? :)
However, this one is not even that good of a job. Its a little off center, the font isn't very clear, hard to read. Clearly just a photoshop resize job. I would expect much cleaner work for that price
Just because you don't know typography doesn't mean it doesn't exist as a profession.
Really, you can't argue that this wasn't crazy expensive. However, when it comes to government waste this is a pretty trivial example.
So, lets call it 10 hours, roughly? So 58.50/hr...
And there's no mention of the half dozen favicons the designer had to come up with in order to get one through all the layers of approval involved.
Plus, it wasn't an internal project. It was outsourced. That can cut productivity quite a bit.
The UK government has no such contraints of course.
$230/hr is not crazy expensive. It really isn't. At my last job we charged $160/hr for things like "standing around while the phone company is there", or setting up a Dell computer, or sitting in meetings.
The UK government isn't some ramen startup.
Of course, it may be that you can't actually just FTP it to the server. At my current employer, you can't put ANYTHING on any of our web servers without sitting at the console. Which is an hour's drive away from my main office. Security does funny things to productivity.
Who knows? (Apparently the UK government doesn't, either)
(Related on the Youtube favicon subpixel optimization http://typophile.com/node/60577)
What you're paying for tho' is my 20 years experience, and in those 5 minutes I was composing a command line for a tool that I've spent 5 years working on. Bargain?
So, I looked closely at the PDF:-
-"Web development work (Logo and fonts £2,317.50, Favicon £585, E-newsletter £1,080)"
Creating a favicon costs a quarter of logo and fonts? That is literally unbelievable.
Your reasoning has merits but I think they (the web design company + those who commissioned them) do not merit it.
Case in point. Accenture bid on a fairly complex web application for tracking "containers" that get transferred to private companies, but ofen the "containers" aren't returned back to the agency. Knowing they were the only contractor bidding on this project, Accenture's bid for this web app was over $5 or $6 million! Last I heard the project was still going through. It's sickening to think about it. That's a lot of money for a small, somewhat complex solution. Any advanced enterprise Java developer could do this project by themself within a year's time for 3%. It's a shame, I say!
But by the time you cover quoting, invoicing, documentation for the change control process and arranging the required access there is a whole days effort spent on the task.
Just because something is easy to do in an environment where you have complete control and no need to justify and document changes doesn't mean it's easy to do in a production environment, and that's assuming the icon itself wasn't properly hand-crafted pixel by pixel to get the best result.
1) Draw crappy icon in any of the zillion free icon editors out there (e.g. IconEdit32).
2) Name the file 'favicon.ico' and upload it to the root directory of the website.
I have a feeling I should be doing consulting in the UK or something.
If I tell a designer to create the front page of a feature-packed, online store where every tiny decision has a significant impact on sales figures, and the process has to be run past (and work for) countless people within the organisation - no one is doing that in under an hour!
In this case, there's every chance that the actual decision making process was "resize logo or part of logo to fit a small square", but there's also a chance that other options were considered, a couple of meetings were held to get it approved, etc.
Not as easy as it sounds.
I say that because I remember it taking me only a few minutes to go from knowing nothing whatsoever about them to making my own.
1) The work was done under a support contract, therefore it was probably billed on time and materials and there may also be a minimum or call-out charge (it's the goal of a lot of companies to be able to charge a daily-rate instead of an hourly one). When they say it's not quoted for separately they mean that they didn't put out an RFP, tender it and agree a fixed price beforehand, they asked Reading Room to do the work under an existing contractual agreement at pre-agreed rates.
2) If the work is of a high priority then the hourly cost is greater.
3) It's a government site therefore they probably have a change management process in place which would mean that before anything touches a production server it has to be signed off. If they do things properly (which I honestly don't believe for a second) then there's no way in the world a developer or designer would be able to touch a production server (let alone two) and this would be someone else's job.
4) the design process may have not been as straightforward as just reducing the size. Perhaps they wanted to try it different colours, etc. ? All we can see is the end result and not the process.
Of course, they may have just been ripped off. But then so have we by making pointless requests under the Freedom of Information Act which isn't going to accomplish anything more than an inflated sense of our own self-worth.
(The ICO is the UK government body responsible for, among other things, regulating the processing and disclosure of personal data.)
Then a designer will need to draw the real favicon from that mock-up, don't forget that he'll need to make many resolutions and then tests them. Let say that take 2 hours, including a final discussion with the other members of the team.
So in total we have 11 hours, if you consider $150/hour a good rate for a professional, then you'll have $1,650.
I can confirm that that the old website
development environment was upgraded
from one server to two.
PS: if you pay attention, right now I am laughing really, really loud, so you might hear me.
If that's the case, diving around someone else's code for £585 is pretty cheap.
Alias favicon.ico /path/to/your/physical/location/favicon.ico
Curiosity: does that work for subdomains with different favicons?
And I fail to grasp the situation where you've got multiple subdomains setup inside the same virtual host config (through ServerAlias), but still having different favicons. But even for this case you can probably come up with something based on mod_rewrite.
Reminds me of the whole "MP's expenses 'scandal'" - the inquiry cost more than was paid out originally in expenses.
£585 is nothing in that sort of context.
As to the MPs' expenses stuff, I don't know the figures of how much the inquiry cost, but assuming you're right that it cost more, it doesn't mean they shouldn't have done it.
For one reason, ethics - should police ignore crimes when it appears that the damage caused by the criminal is less than it would cost the police force to pursue it?
For another, the future - If you cut off the problem then it doesn't keep costing money year after year, which would add up to costing more than the inquiry did.
The MP expenses thing was always ridiculous. So an MPs husband mistakenly put in an expense claim for £10 adult movie. Sure it sells papers, but £10 is nothing. We spend more on paper cups in a single room of the NHS.
The rules were ridiculously open to interpretation - second homes etc. Couple that with the fact that MPs get paid next to nothing, and it's no wonder they try to claim expenses for everything.
The answer is to pay MPs more - the going rate for if they're in the business world. If you don't want corruption or taking liberties, you must start by paying a fair wage.
But I don't think it's ridiculous to prosecute MPs who defraud the public by claiming "homes" belonging to other people that they've never even stayed in; even though the prosecution costs far more than the actual offence. Lines have to be drawn. It's expensive to prosecute people for shoplifting too.
underpaid enough to be justifiably anal about claiming expenses; not so underpaid that doubling their income by home flipping is the only way they can feed their families
Why put up with all the BS and low pay of politics when you can go work for a big company and run up massive expense accounts for lap dancing clubs or whatever else you feel like?
I'd say the jury's out on it...
There's a near-zero probability that these laws (yes, laws) don't have some impact on the job-management process, which will carry into procedural burdens for vendor to factor into their quoted prices.
That being said, this particular favicon was not so much designed as resized, and so I totally agree that they got ripped off!
* 1 hour - Account handler discusses with request with client, adds to studio traffic scheduler
* 2 hours - Icon development by designer
* 3 hours - Developer wrestles with old website platform to try and add relevant <link> to every template
* 1 hour - Project Manager reviews and discusses with client
* 1 hour - Developer deploys to production environment
Making 8 hours at approx £75/h (£600) which all sounds perfectly believable for a London digital studio.
One of the issues with the low barrier to entry to web development is that a class of people exist who believe that the job is entirely a process of making a website (or a favicon) and uploading it via FTP, maybe even installing Wordpress. Complex client relationships, business/deployment processes and old web systems do not factor into their equation for cost. It is important that these people exist, otherwise the cost of being involved with the web would be astronomical for businesses at the lower end, but there _are_ good industry practices for quality work and jobs required at the higher end which they are putting in jeopardy with sensationalist headlines such as this one. Some clients have more available money, but require much more effort than throwing up a few plugins and shooting them an email once it is done. Nor is favicon design a case of taking one of my Silk icons are throwing it through a dynamicdrive favicon maker.
That said, there are still a few examples of UK website procurement which goes beyond what you might call value for money, such as Birmingham Council's website which cost £3m (http://www.birminghampost.net/news/politics-news/2009/08/04/...), although my concern with that website was not so much the cost but the quality of the work (from a quick scan I don't have the same concerns about the ICO website).
Honestly, that doesn't seem to be too overly ridiculous to me. There is a lot of work that goes into designing them (and installing them into each page of a website, especially if the favicon was new and not an update). If the company in question didn't have someone perfectly familiar with the site in question, I can see it taking a week or so to get it out the door. What costs would be added by going through the process of taking bids? I wouldn't be surprised if those in themselves ran to £100 - £200.
This is not a joke, and it was a pretty sizable dev shop here in iceland
By the way I noticed yesterday that Hacker news is going to start a designer's directory because there "are so few good designers". I submit the problem really is that there are so few programmers who can be bothered to learn anything about designers or how they work.
In fact the very notion that designers are some secondary set of dumb hands is quite insulting. The reality is that product design (of any sort) should START with a designer and not an engineer. VCs should give more serious thought that an BFA or MFA is worth far more than a CS or MBA.
I'm surprised it wasn't more.
Working wit the government is not cheap. It is not easy. It is not something that lends itself to lean development shops. That development work is supporting a bevy of sales and process people to deal with government stuff. 585 pounds is cheap
The quote was to modify a piece of linux-based kit to work with a regular screen and keyboard instead of a touchscreen. The cost? £3300 for 'development'.
I was asked to grab a piece of sample kit and liaise with the development company to have the work done. To cut a long story short, one of the developers called me back a day or so later and gave me instructions on how to change one line in an XML file from TOUCHSCREEN=YES to NO.
After I had completed the work, I reported back to the man in charge of the project and queried the cost. He said that since it was being passed to the customer it was not an issue.
This seems to me to be classic non-tech manager thinking - 'how on earth can a 16x16 icon cost that much?!' - but once you factor in all the various factors it's not so obvious. Just because the instinctive reaction is 'that's ridiculous!' it doesn't mean that should override an actual analysis of what might actually be involved.
That's a 10 minute job.
Sounds like their old CMS system made it difficult to actually add a favicon in the template. I very much doubt the quoted price is just for creating the icon.
Perhaps they transposed a list of requirements / features and assigned the breakdown incorrectly - assigning too much cost/time emphasis to favicon design.
It is about $300/inch. That would be 53 miles of new favicon/inch ($300 vs 585 pounds - thats 70% volume discount given by Boing to teh US government). Look at the picture at the link above - it is a really hi-tech fence.
This is the "Bike Shed Principle" or Parkinson's Law of Triviality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinsons_Law_of_Triviality)
based out of the UK
favicon generation: £0
1-year email support: £200
TOTAL (*): £400
Savings (*): £185
* VAT not included
In many of these cases, the procurement procedure is ITSELF contracted out to a third company that will charge a "procurement fee" as a percentage of the value of the final contract. Obviously this incentivises them to pick the most expensive supplier.
I'm trying to find a source but coming up short, google gives me pages and pages of worthless drek from the government websites themselves. I'll try to edit in a link later.