What is a Professional Web-site?

In his most recent post Barbie mentions a programming contest. The thing that interests me is his reaction to the word “professional”. What exactly is a professional web-site? For some people it’s going to be Amazon, Google or Ebay but for others it’s merely going to be a web-site that was paid for. Of course a professional web-site for a small business can be produced in 30 hours with a team of three people. Just think about how much that would cost. If we give a low price to each member of the team – say £35 per hour – that brings the cost of the site to £3,150. Most design companies I’ve worked with charge closer to £50 per hour – giving us a site that costs £4,500. This is nothing if you consider how much it costs to build something like Amazon. But for a small business it’s a lot of money and most of them would not agree to spend that much on a web-site. There are so many companies now claiming that they can build professional web-sites that it is not shocking for someone to pay around £1,000 for one and at prices that low they must be producing them really quickly. I’ve even come across a company claiming that they can build a web-site for a small business for around £250.

The other thing that interests me is that amount of time it would take to reproduce some of the large professional web-sites such as Amazon. It’s much easier to copy than it is to create. Lots of the time involved in building any software system is taken up with requirements, analysis and finding ways to make the interface useable. If you already had all that how long would it really take?