Web bottomline
November 20, 2008 12:41 PM   Subscribe

TCO for a 'website'

I am looking for research, reports, data, etc. around the idea of Total Cost of Ownership for a website, web redesign, maintenance (design, updates), technology, personnel, etc.

I am looking to see what metrics were used, what specific categories were discussed and possibly a comparison of costs via different project examples. I am aware this is a broad topic, but I have found a scarcity of information so far having searched Gartner and several other sources, including attempting Google searches to narrow down a source for this and have found zero so far.

Any resources someone can share? Point me in a new direction?

The goal is to create an argument for a webgroup (in the broadest sense) and I am looking for background material to shape the discussion.

posted by fluffycreature to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wow. That is way too open-ended to answer without more qualifiers. How long is a piece of string?

To give you two extreme examples of opposite spectrum, at my current company, we have a website that pretty much just tells people what we do, what we've done, what we will do, and how to get a hold of us if you want in on the doing. TCO there ongoing is in the pennies a day category since it seldom gets updated, and only sees a few hundred visits a month.

A place I used to work at WAS a website in the financial industry. So the ownership costs there were $20K a month rent (for the offices), another $15K a month bandwidth, $750K the year I was there for the hardware, and then whatever 60 employees, most of whom generated content for said site, cost in salaries (WAG would put that at about $2 - 3 million/year). So that one cost I am guessing in the $4 - 5 million a year range...

So, yeah, it depends. However a lot of "mid range" websites can actually be maintained for surprisingly little due to how good CMSs have gotten over the last few years, so doing what you want may not be as expensive as you think.
posted by barc0001 at 6:15 PM on November 20, 2008

The definition of a website is something that has evolved past the point where that word alone is sufficient to describe what you are talking about.

For example, I can create a website in under 5 minutes using a free blogging host. Or...conversely, I've managed websites that have had hundreds of thousands of dollars thrown at them over their lifetime.

The way you frame your question makes you sound like you are either:
A. Some business-person who does not have a very strong grasp of the web but is tasked with doing a report on it or needs the data for one of their projects.


B. A student in a business class looking for answers on homework.

Whichever it is, this is a question that you might find an answer to if you can drill down your search a bit further. Think about what kind of website you are talking about...

Is it primarily a...
-ecommerce site
-news site
-general business site
-marketing/sales site

The list goes on and on. Additionally, the TCO will vary so drastically between the various types that, as someone who manages websites for a living, I would say that if you DID find a report that had data on that broad of a description (and I doubt you'll find one), the data would be completely useless from a planning perspective.

Sorry--there's just no easy answers on this one.
posted by Elminster24 at 6:47 PM on November 20, 2008

Without getting into further berating, I fully understand the smoke surrounding the question I have asked, and how broad this can be taken. Hence, I am learning for _any_ research surrounding the cost of a website/service, etc. My hope is find some research to start piecing together this puzzle.

As mentioned, I have gone through some large databases and am finding nothing. As suggested if I "drill down to the type of website" - okay, where is that research. I am turning to 'ask' because I have nothing in regards to cost analysis showing a variety of categories to any depth.

'Elm' in regards to A or B, I am neither; am fully functioning and am not on any medication. Step back from the pedantics for a second, and you'll see where I am. I am trying to grasp the question asked, and am learning for the broadest research material possible. I have surprised myself to find none.
posted by fluffycreature at 5:44 AM on November 21, 2008

Numero Uno Matt Haughey's Fortuito.us is worth checking out, though he doesn't update much. I don't think there are standard TCO numbers for web-based business, certainly not reliable numbers. But you can do a pro-forma profit & loss analysis.

Recurring cost that can be predicted: design, programming, system admin, other admin (accountant, etc).
Cost that scales with growth: bandwidth, more system admin, design, etc.,
One-time costs: Domain name, other startup expense
posted by theora55 at 6:55 AM on November 21, 2008

Did not mean to berate--I simply phrased part of my post in a way that implied the wrong tone. What I meant by the whole "business person vs student" part was an attempt to ascertain any additional context around the question that might help narrow it down even further. No clue what you are referring to with the medication comment...

Your best bet would be to start contacting industry associations to be honest. If they can't give you some numbers they should at least be able to point you in the right direction. I'm based in Chicago so I would start my search with CIMA (Chicago Interactive Marketing Association). These organizations deal with the web on the broad scale you are discussing so should have a decent grasp on it.

Best of luck.
posted by Elminster24 at 4:20 PM on November 21, 2008

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