Er… how much for a favicon?

Chins collectively hit the floor this afternoon, as word got round that the Information Commissioner’s Office had paid £585 for the creation of a single 32×32 ‘favicon’ graphic. Oh, and to be fair to them, adding a line to their pages’ HTML header referencing it.
Mark Bowen used WhatDoTheyKnow to follow up a reference he’d spotted in a document published by the ICO, which doesn’t exactly leave any room for doubt:

There it is, in black and white

His enquiry revealed that the work was done by Reading Room, commissioned through COI. In their defence, ICO say:

The work needed to put the favicon live was complicated by an old environment (which has since been updated) that caused issues and extended the time taken to carry out the work… Whilst there is no recorded information which would [explain the difference between the old environment and the new one that caused the extended time needed] I can confirm that that the old website development environment was upgraded from one server to two.

… which, on the face of it, wouldn’t seem to have caused any direct ‘issue’ when it came to sticking a graphic in a given folder.
But we shouldn’t rush to any rash judgments here. Yes, favicons shouldn’t normally take more than 5 minutes (as Mark notes) to produce. And yes, adding a standard line of HTML to reference it should be basic copy-and-paste… if it’s even necessary, which it usually isn’t. But we don’t know the full facts. Yet. The ball’s in your court, RR.
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4 thoughts on “Er… how much for a favicon?”

  1. Sure this seems expensive at first glance, but I don’t really see what the size of a graphic has to do with the amount of time spent creating it and then responding to subsequent feedback to get what the client wanted.
    I’ll note that I’m not completely sure why it would cost that much and it is quite possible that it was an attempt to get an extra £500 through (the explanation would have sounded much better if they’d just said “it took a number of design revisions to get the right icon that fitted the brand”). However the idea that because something *seems* simple it should be cheap demeans the service that bespoke designers/developers provide.
    So often a “5 minute job” becomes a few hours because the client requires a lot of changes to get exactly what they want. Just like bepoke tailoring or carpentry, every change takes time – which has to be paid for.
    It’s the job of the craftsman to make the client aware of the cost of this change but ultimately, it’s the client’s decision to make.

  2. I have some sympathy with your point Stephen: but the fact remains that it’s a 32×32 graphic, for an organisation whose logo is basically square anyway. The only iteration I can imagine taking place was ‘blue on white, or white on blue?’
    Worth noting, though, that the Guardian’s Charles Arthur tweeted earlier this evening: ‘ICO favicon story turns out to be MUCH more complicated than it appeared. More later.’ We’re all awaiting developments.

  3. Just as a slight note to all of this too. The company as far as I’m aware also did the new branding for the site so would already have placed designs in order for everything else anyway so it would have been fairly straightforward to know what the favicon was going to look like.
    I’m definitely not making out that something *seems* simple, I know it is! Creating a favicon or even a family of favicons is not that difficult to do.
    I’ve admitted elsewhere (such as on the Guardian site) that we don’t yet have all the details (I don’t know if we ever will get them) and so we can’t comment fully until we see that but as we all know on any normal server environment this is a very very quick and easy thing to do.
    As the logo was already sorted then charging for this sort of thing in my mind is a bit ridiculous, at least I think personally.
    I’d never charge a client for a favicon, especially if I’d already created their logo as the time taken to create it would just be throw away in my mind.
    Of course everyone is open to charge for every little job they do if they so wish to do so and the client is totally open to pay for it should they feel the need to do so but when you’re playing with other peoples money then a little bit of research first is quite a good thing I’d say 😉
    Mark Bowen

  4. Meeting to explain what a favicon is – £100
    Meeting to re-explain to senior management – £100
    Meeting to present 3 concepts requested by client – £100
    Meeting to present design – £100
    Meeting to present revised design, requested by client, to senior management – £100
    Making icon, revisions, & uploading it – £85

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