Visually it is hard to determine the difference between one website and the next. So why do we pay so little for one website, while the other costs so much more?
When it comes to web sites/intranets, the old saying of "You get what you paid for" resinates more than you think. The reason that one was probably 5% of the other website's cost comes down to all the things you didn't see.
When you looked at one website, you probably looked at it on a desktop machine, which is where websites began. Try looking at the two on mobiles, tablets, or try and use the site and then it starts to become clear as to why one was cheaper than the other.
10 years ago, before mobile internet browsing, the iPad/tablet and all the cool stuff we have today, a website project consisted of building a webpage for PC with a monitor 1020x768 pixels that worked in Internet explorer 6 and Firefox on Windows. After all, everybody uses these, right?
Fast-forward to today and we have 3 mainsream operating systems, 5 common browsers (each with different versions to support). We have desktops, tablets and mobiles and goodness knows what else. We have things such as accessibility to consider (because people with disabilities exist and also are using the internet more than you thing).
We have marketing's input, we have SEO stuff to consider, multi-lingual, content management systems, oh and our webpage needs to include fancy animations, complex interactive stuff and be fast.
When you consider what goes into a website to cater for the pletora of devices and people out there, there's a lot of stuff below the surface we just don't see at face value that make a vast improvement to the website use and return.
So when you next time consider why websites vary considerably, try to think of comparing that of a go-kart to that of a high performance car with all the safety features and luxuries we expect today.