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Developers' hourly fees jump

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oldclass: 2 Hourly rates for Web development have registered double-digit increases over last year as marketers demand more complex tasks.

According to this month's Web Price Index, rates for programming and page design have increased as much as 17% since the May 1997 survey, although copywriting rates dropped 25%.

This month's survey also covers the hourly rates for planning and strategy, which is one of the most expensive phases of the site development process.

While part of the increases can be attributed to higher overhead for Web shops, developers say the increases are also due to the change in job requirements as marketers become more savvy about their Web site requirements.

"The cost of doing business has increased somewhat," says Daniel Davenport, VP, InterWeb, Atlanta, "but the larger factor is the greater complexity of the tasks that we're being asked to provide for our clients."

During the past year, corporate sites have moved from static HTML pages to much more robust and often database-driven back ends. As databases, Java programming and CGI scripting have grown more complex, rates billed for those services have increased accordingly.

Web sites becoming a priority

For marketers, company Web sites are expanding as a business tool and, therefore, becoming more of a priority financially.

Mr. Davenport sees corporate information infrastructures as a target with "the Web getting closer to the bull's-eye of mission-critical applications. There is more pressure to perform."

David Cowen, president of Fanning Technical Search, a New York-based corporate recruiting company, agrees that greater importance placed on Web-based technologies is helping to spur prices.

"The marketplace is segmented into the creative arena and the financial services arena," he says. The financial services companies have a great deal at stake with their Web services -- both Internet and intranet -- and they "are sparing no expense in hiring the best talent."

"Wall Street is driving the prices up," he says.

For people with Web development backgrounds, salaries are rising as the demand for their skills increases.

Jump in salaries

Within the past year, Mr. Cowen has seen a 15% to 30% increase in salaries within the industry. The financial services sector tends to have the highest salaries, he says, adding, "People will take less money to work in a more creative environment. But they're still being compensated at top dollar."

Because of the more technical skill set that is needed, developers have tended to become more specialized. Last May, NetMarketing found a wide variance in the way developers break out tasks -- a range that seems to have narrowed considerably in the past year.

All of this affects the bottom-line costs of building and expanding a Web site. But as sites become more mission-critical for companies in 1998, marketers could start seeing greater returns on their investment balancing out these increasing development expenditures.

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