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back to article ICO pays through the nose for 'website development'

Is £585 a reasonable amount to pay out for a favicon? Apparently so, if you are the Information Commissioner (ICO), whose office recently owned up to spending just this sum – mostly from data protection notification fees – on the design and creation of such a beast. A part of the cost may have arisen from the fact that unlike …

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Worth It

Have you ever tried designing an icon? It's the hardest part of my coding day. £585 sounds like a good deal for me, as long as the icon was decent.

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Happy

ICO

Well if your abbreviation is ICO, then you have to take icons seriously.

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Grenade

*kerching*

Looking around I see that the 'Reading Room Ltd' have also published this:

Reading Room chief exec hits out at plan to scrap three-quarters of government websites

http://www.readingroom.com/news/reading-room-chief-exec-hits-out-at-plan-to-scrap-three-quarters-of-government-websites.aspx

I wonder why?! *kerching*

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Flame

Not surprised

Reading Room Ltd are quite skilled in milking their customers. I know - I've worked there.

Oh, and their staff turnover is roughly 35% annually - the executives of that company treat their customers and employees with equal contempt.

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Bronze badge

at least it's not animated

http://www.ico.gov.uk/favicon.ico

It's a pretty basic favicon, I thought modern icons were 128 or 256 pixels across so they look nice pined to the taskbar in windows 7.

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good thing it didn't take longer than 5 minutes to make...

£ 585 for a 5 minute job... is ...er...7020£ per hour! Cripes.

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FAIL

32x32

And of course, being that the 32x32 pixel icon gets scaled down to 16x16 for display, it looks crap.

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RE : Touting for work…

Hiya,

Just to let you know that it most definitely wasn't / isn't a tout for work at all. I currently (thankfully as I was made redundant a while back) have enough work on to keep me able to eat for a while so it was more a slight outcry I guess. I was simply amazed at how much was spent on what is such a simple job.

Admitted we don't have all the facts with regards to the server environment but really if something that shouldn't be taking a company more than 5 minutes work time ends up costing that much money then I really think that perhaps the ICO should start looking at just exactly what environment and software they are running which is causing these high costs.

Mark Bowen

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Flame

I'm really getting sick...

... of FOI requests as a whole.

I've posted this before, but the average cost of an FOI request is £254. Central government costs of FOI requests is currently at about £24 million. I'm sorry but I'm not happy with my taxes being wasted on fulfilling FOI requests. In principle I agree with freedom of information, but, the total cost for providing the answer should be billed to the party asking the question. No ifs, no buts, if you want an answer, pay the full cost for it, that'll sort out the frivoulous requests. If you've got a huge expose', then pay up first then publish.

The 2006 review of FOI costs is here http://tinyurl.com/66qs9n6

A slightly comical 30 second overview is here http://tinyurl.com/6y7gl9c

Did I mention I'm sick of FOI requests?

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Thumb Down

If Information was all published in the first place......

...... then we wouldn't NEED FOI requests.

But as long as bad/corrupt decisions are hidden behind "commercial confidence" get-outs we'll need FOI legislation to find out how OUR money is being spent. Far too often dragging the information out kicking & screaming.

Of course, in the dim & distant, we trusted our elected representatives to carry out this scrutiny task. It's what they ought to be doing, it's part of what they're there for, but what with their own corruption and the need to carry out the whips' office's commands or be consigned to the political wilderness (or tossed scraps like Frank Field), no-one trusts them to do that any more.

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Grenade

Million << Billion

£24 million sounds like an awful amount of money, doesn't it? Against the multi billion government budget it's nary a pinprick - out of every £100 in taxes, it's about 5p. Massive waste! Quoting figures at random just to make an apparently informed point is neither clever nor funny. The FOIA already has measures in place to refuse hugely expensive requests, which is why it's only averaging at £254. Fine, so there's a few frivolous requests. What proportion do they make up? 1%, 10%, 50%? Without knowing that, you could as well be basing a theory of warfare on the Anglo-Zanzibar war of 1896. It lasted all of 40 minutes. And the losers were made to pay the full cost of the munitions used.

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Anonymous Coward

The thing you downvoters need to understand

is that Government spending comes in two varieties, that which the organisation has no choice but to do, and that where they have some options. The FOI requests are part of the ever increasing load of mandatory spending, like equalities and diversities training, endless write only reports which go unread futher up the chain and all the rest of it, whereas really useful stuff, like fixing potholes, or employing enough firemen to put fires out and so on is largely discretionary.

So if your Local Council gets a 10% cut in budget it *all* has to come out of the discretionary spending. If their budget is 50% discretionary then an overall 10% cut is 20% on the things you actually want your council to do, as opposed to the things that central government has told them to do. The more the non-discretionary spending is ratcheted up by things like FOI, mandatory publication of all spending over 500 quid and all the rest of this stuff, then the worse the service you are going to get from them.

If you figure that the FOI requests, mandatory budget reporting and so on are a better use of your tax money than fixing potholes then that's fine. Its your money. Personally though I don't think its a good use of the share that I pay. Yeah I'm sure loads of you will downvote this because you think the FOI requests are a valuable check/balance, or claim that there are mythical "efficiency savings" or something, but that doesn't make it any less correct.

On quite another topic, I'm not sure this upvoting/downvoting thing is really a good thing. I like to think I'm no slave to peer pressure and the need to conform, and yet I find there's a definite temptation not to post a truth, like the above, that the majority of commetards won't like. I'm really not sure that's healthy.

I'd better sign this as anon too, not sure my employers would like it either... Like the commentards, they are prone not to want to hear unwelcome truths...

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Badgers

Nothing like...

... Government swag.

Badgers, because, well, just because.

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Anonymous Coward

Seems reasonable

Seems reasonable to me that it would take a professional about a day to create a nice one.

If I got the right site, its not a nice one, but the story seems to be more about the time it took to deploy it.

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Silver badge
Unhappy

You should also be loyal to your friends - and give them the contracts

This even pre-dates a couple of millennia (including our present one) as Proverbs 21:21 (NASB) states, "He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life."

So ICO, in handing out this contract was only following biblical practice, which is kind of hard to argue against unless you are of a different faith.

So much for Cameron's cut-the-costs regime.

After all this expense I hope they copyrighted and registered the work.

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Silver badge

What is reasonable?

If they hired a Graphic Designer/Marketing firm to come up with it then that's probably the going rate albeit with the massive caveat that, having seen it, I don't rate it as being worth the steam off of my piss.

I would have though that you'd have had such a beast designed as part of the overall branding/theme of your website.

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FONTS!

Oh I forgot - this is a MS IE7 only environment - they actually serve MS TT fonts to clients...

CSS is just way to easy/non profitable.

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Anonymous Coward

Dropping a favicon on a server might take a few seconds...

... but if you don't already know just what you want for a favicon, it becomes a design thing. Which carries an entirely different price tag. It might be original design plus transfer of ownership, for example. Or maybe it was a two-day struggle against a really old cms setup or something. No idea if this price is reasonable though, can't really tell from the reporting about a line item.

For a one-off that's just the price of doing governmental business. Or the price of dealing with earlier fsckups. If it's structural, then there's a problem, but again, can't tell that from this info.

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Dead Vulture

<Yawn>

Slow news day, eh?

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Coat

You asked the ICO for comment?

I didn't know favicons could talk.

Incidentally, 60p per pixel is even more expensive than The Daily, which works out at a paltry 38p per pixel for its 1024x768 display.

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@ a favicon has never taken me more than five minutes to create and install

Does that include the time taken to agree the design with the customer?

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Rigged bidding on this job.

I am sure I could have submitted a winning bid for £590.

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FAIL

Hmm

You'd think that the ICO would be able to produce their own ICO.

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Silver badge

To be honest it's not that much

Assuming there was some design involved (highly specialized artsy stuff like choosing the font -helvetica no doubt- and colour), then it's not very expensive. Designer time is roughly as cheap as lawyer time these days.

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Stop

Yes, but this is the government

Ok, so it's £585.

For those who've never done any work for the government I would imagine that the following would have happened

1) Contractor suggests they have a favicon

2) Contractor mocks up a favicon (1 hour)

3) Contractor shows the client the favicon

4) Client decides it's not quite right, asks contractor to come up with some different options

5) Contractor comes up with different options (4 hours)

6) Client wants Contractor to write up a short paper/powerpoint to describe to key web stakeholders in the organisation, what favicons are, why they need one, and the design decisions behind the samples

7) Contractor writes paper (1/2 day)

8) Contractor publishes paper

..... many days pass ...

9) Workshop requested and held to discuss paper and designs with key web stakeholders (2 hours)

10) Contractor asked to resubmit paper with comments from the workshop

11) Contrator makes updates (3 hours)

13) Contractor re-publishes paper

... many days pass ..

11) Contractor makes some phonecalls to chase up (2 hours)

... many days pass ...

12) Client agrees to have the favicon, and signs off in principal if certain changes are made

13) Contractor makes changes (1 hour)

14) Contractor and Client sit through final review and sign off meeting (1 hour)

15) Icon is uploaded (assume acceptance testing is done elsewhere!)

16) ????

17) Profit!

So all in all that's 18 hours (or 2.5 days effort) - which brings the daily rate of that headline figure to be £230/day - which sounds about right for a cheap external web contractor.

-- Posted anon due to too much exposure to the public sector IT process.

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WTF?

Fair enough ......

Fair enough if it looked any good but to me it just looks like somone has just typed "ico." and stuck it on a blue background. It is also scaled badly and difficult to read.

A favicon should be part of the overall web design and if it cost £585 for the icon how much did the site cost them in total and why was it not included in that price originally ?

I dont know if i am totally wrong here but if a client asks me to change a favicon or phone number etc i usually do it for nothing, keep them happy, keeping the renewals and hosting fees coming in and me in a tidy honest profit.

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Silver badge
WTF?

Why do they need one?

Why does the public sector spend our money on things like this? They aren't selling something. Who do they think is going to add the ICO to his list of favourites?

Public sector web sites should consist of plain HTML pages and simple HTML forms. No script. No images beyond those actually necessary for illustration. Something you can access in a text-only browser. A good designer would be able to make a site like this quick to access and easy to use.

The images, fonts, frills and furbelows are there only to pump up the egos of civil servants. If these people want more glamour, they should get a job in an industry where expensive design is expected to earn its keep.

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@Why does the public sector spend our money on things like this...

Mainly because the incumbent politicians think it will encourage you vote for them... And if you set up something plain and functional they'll come back at you with a whole lot of "improvements" which have been suggested by their 15 year old son...

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