A developer works for an agency that builds websites. The agency sells a job to a client for $150k (an average size job). The project entails building an application that can sort tasks a user inputs. These tasks have certain data associated with them that are automatically pulled in from a resource the client provides. So as a developer you're thinking: "ok I can use Rails as the back-end and Angular on the front-end because I know it works great for that type of interface sorting".
For the sake of this post let's leave it as a high level example. From here the developer and a PM devote 10 hours to research the idea. A designer gets the client's brand guidelines and spends roughly 10 hours putting together some style tiles for the client to look at. From here the designer and developer work on some wireframes together and have something useful after another 10 hours. After some back and forth between the client the small team of 3 has come to a conclusion on architecture and design style in just 40 hours of work. The designer then starts mocking up the design in flat HTML and the developer starts building the rails app. Fast forward 50 hours each plus 30 from the PM and we arrive at 170 hours total at the end of the project.
If we go back to our $150k figure and divide it by the 170 hours spent we should arrive roughly at $900/hour. If the developer makes $100k per year that's $48.08 per hour. If the designer and PM both make $85k per year that's $40.87/hour. Add those three up and we've got $129.82/hour. That means the cost of production is roughly 14% of the total cost of the project.
So in what world is six figures too high for a developer with these very relevant skills?