I would like to start out with a story that I have been told for quite some time. A firm builds complex buildings as their primary source of revenue, and they came across a set of blueprints that they wanted to build. They tried multiple times but kept failing to deliver. They decided to contract out an engineer to see what they were doing wrong. The engineer took a pencil out of his pocket and circled the exact issue on the blueprints. The firm tried the plans with the modifications, and sure enough, that did the trick. The engineer then sent the company an invoice for his fee of $10,000. The firm was quite agitated and told the engineer that all he did was draw a circle on a piece of paper. They demanded an itemized receipt. The engineer sent them an updated invoice with two lines… $1.25 for the pencil, $9,998.75 for knowing where to put the circle.
It takes dedication, time, effort, and perseverance to gain the knowledge and skills to perform a specialized trade. With web development, there is no difference. Sure, you can certainly update the website yourself, but with great power comes great responsibility. A single character put in the wrong place in the code can make the entire website break. A professional web developer can take their digital pencil and find that error for you, which saves you from pulling out your hair.
There are certain content management systems out there that make web development a lot more user-friendly, such as Wordpress or Joomla, but there are times when plugins (pieces of software that add functionality to your website) on those platforms need that special guiding hand to help ensure the website does exactly what you need it to do. There are off-the-shelf website builder solutions available too, but you get what you pay for. Most of those solutions are locked in, so if you need your website to perform a specific function and the packaged option can’t do it, you will most likely be out of luck.
The other major piece that contributes to the higher expense is the snowball effect. Most of the time code is dependent upon other parts of the code and making one seemly insignificant change could take down the entire site (believe me, it happens more often than you think!). Us programmers like to sing our song “99 bugs found left in the code, 99 bugs found in the code, take one down, patch it around, 2,361 more bugs in the code.” The time spent preventing and minimizing these bugs can drive the price higher.
With custom web development, we can take a lot of the stress out of the situation on your behalf. We make sure that the software does exactly what you need, hunt down and squash the bugs, and ultimately prevent you spending a lot of your most valuable resource - time - trying to do something that is best left to the professionals.