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Fast, Good, Cheap … true for web development. Not so much for pizza.

Fast, Good, Cheap Web Development – Any Two of the Three

“Fast, Good, Cheap” – the iron triangle – is a well-known adage in many fields. It’s true everywhere … with the possible exception of pizza … and it’s just as true in web development as anywhere else – maybe even more so.

The iron triangle suggests that you can only pick two of the three options:

  • If something is fast and good, it won’t be cheap.
  • If it‘s good and cheap, it won’t be fast.
  • If it’s fast and cheap, it can’t be good.

Why Web Design is Not Like Pizza

So let’s discuss how the iron triangle applies to web development:

Fast + Good = Not Cheap

In web development, delivering high-quality work in a short time frame usually requires more resources. This could mean hiring more skilled developers or utilising more advanced tools, which increases costs. Clients needing rapid development without compromising quality should expect to pay a premium. This approach is often suitable for projects with tight deadlines and a high requirement for quality, such as launching a website for a major event or product release.

Good + Cheap = Not Fast

Achieving high-quality development at a low cost means taking more time. The smaller budget requires that developers allocate less time to the project or squeeze development with other projects. Sometimes, a developer will opt to learn the skills the project requires as they go. A certain amount of trial and error is inevitable and slows the project down.

Hobbyists can create great websites without much budget … but hobbyists are seldom quick.

This approach suits projects where quality is paramount, but the timeline is flexible. Startups with limited budgets but who can afford a longer development cycle might opt for this.

Fast + Cheap = Not Good

There are time-saving techniques out there. Developers might use templates, skip thorough testing, or use less experienced staff to reduce costs and speed up development. While this approach allows for rapid deployment and is easy on the budget, it can lead to issues like poor website performance, lower security standards, and future maintenance problems. It takes skill and experience to leverage these techniques effectively.

Skill and experience are not cheap.

Fast and cheap may be a tempting approach for simple or temporary websites where quality is not the primary concern. But, in our opinion, it is always a false economy. We genuinely cannot think of a reason why anyone would want to buy rubbish – no matter how cheaply.

Fast, Good, Cheap … true for web development. Not so much for pizza.

A False Premise?

In truth, no one will be happy with poor quality. Ask us for “fast and cheap” and we’re likely to say ”No”.

But cost is almost always a factor. Budgets are often an inevitable limit to ambition. As such, making the choice will always force a compromise of some sort. In web development, the choice among these options depends heavily on the your priorities and the project‘s specific demands.

So, to meet any project objective, a balance must be struck between these three elements. Understanding these trade-offs when planning their web development projects is essential, as it sets realistic expectations and helps make informed decisions.

An experienced web development team should be able to break down a project and the costs relating to each element. They should be able to identify what it will take to add the value that will make your project work.