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How Long Does It Take To Build A Website?

After my weighty tome from a couple of weeks ago on planning a website, I thought it would be quite useful to consider how long a custom designed website development might take to create. As a developer, it’s more coding than drag and drop. A good, user-friendly website design shouldn’t ever be hurried. If you're looking to build a website that gets you business - it's important to consider these questions.

In the words of Phil Collins - you can't hurry a website Click To Tweet

It’s also one of the main factors in the success of your web design project. Standard business website can start as a 5 to 10 page project.

The concise answer is: much longer than you'd expect, but it will be worth the wait. You can find five main factors in a project’s timeline:

How Soon Can Your Developer Begin The Work To Build A Website?

High-quality website developers are usually booked pretty solidly, and so can’t start your site at the drop of a hat. There may be some delay from when you initially hire the developer to when they actually start your website project.

How Quickly Can You Provide The Images and Video They Need?

Are you prepared to take ownership of the content of your new website? Taking ownership makes the development a whole lot quicker... Click To Tweet

This is often one of the areas that hadn’t crossed a clients mind. As previously discussed, images are the life-blood of a new website. Getting them right will propel your website into the stratosphere and have your competitors green with envy. Get it wrong and your site will disappear into the back-waters of the world wide web. Spend a good long time getting professional images and/or video to lift your development. Everyone knows that video is a powerful medium and yet normally so few people take the plunge due to their own prejudice.

build a website

How Quickly Can You Provide The Content?

It’s a mistake to believe the content of your old website is going to cut it in the next generation of website. Unless you spent a great deal of time and money on getting it right the last time - and if you did - why are you getting a new site? No, start afresh, think about what worked and what you now need. If you can assess the old website as to pages that were frequently visited and those that weren’t. 

I would suggest getting someone who is good at writing to compile your website. Be honest, if you hate writing, don’t do it - it’ll hurt - every step of the way. As you develop a web site the content becomes even more important.

How long before a site is Ready for Review?

Most designers and developers have a definite process for developing a website, and can describe roughly just how long it will require to get an online site in the hands. A design team would normally start with creating a sitemap, a wire-frame and then a design if we’re using a CMS like WordPress then we need to ascertain what extra development might be needed like WordPress plugins. 

Once approved they get to work developing. Most agencies are happy to answer queries and questions and are generally at the end of an email address.

How Long Before You Can Start The Site Unveiling?

If you're ready to throw yourself into it - an indepth all-encompassing snagging session is in order for your new website. Attack it once and make a comprehensive list - don't go piecemeal - if you want ot stay on the right side of… Click To Tweet

This final factor is the biggest variable and depends largely on you, the client. It includes reviewing the website, making change requests, and finalising content. It also depends on how accessible your domain is. Whether you need the site hosted, and how long that will take to set up. 

Most developers will host your development site on a test server somewhere and they’ll install WordPress in an area that is away from prying eyes. Much like a wedding cake, it needs to be moved to its final destination. Also always good to check when the final payment needs to be made to ensure that your site isn’t delayed due to an invoice needing to be settled.

Unlike a wedding cake there is also a mobile friendly version, that also needs to be reviewed and tested. As you create your website, make sure you check the site out on more than one mobile device.

How Soon Is Soon?

If a client calls us - saying something like: “can you get it ready in a couple of weeks?” You’ll probably get fairly short shrift from most decent agencies and designers because they're booked up and wouldn’t be able to make that commitment.

A better way to tackle it is to talk about your goals and deadlines and let them describe how they might solve it and in what timescale. You can then make your selection predicated on their responses, including their suggested solution, quality of past work, timeline and cost.

There’s no “standard” timeframe that coders are booked up. It absolutely is determined by the individual (or company) and their current workload. My team is normally booked 1-3 calendar months beforehand, but it varies. Right now, we’re scheduling assignments starting in November for some clients. But I’m pretty sure that if someone came to us with a very clear goal and intention we’d could find space for another! 

Also, the level of complexity makes a difference to delivery time. Is it going to have a members area, or an online store?

Recently, an old client of mine decided to use another agency as we couldn’t start work immediately creating the business website. There was around a months difference. However, that time was soon used up and soon enough the client was behind the schedule we had mapped out for them. 

This could have been for many reasons and it wasn’t anyone’s fault specifically, but, it shows that a quick start doesn’t guarantee quality, speed or a relationship. They admitted they had made a mistake and pledged that the next site would be ours!

How Quickly Can You Get a Site Online and Ready for Review?

Your developer is likely to work on a multi stage project framework. They normally kick everything off with a client meeting where you talk through what you have at the moment, what you like, what you hate and what you’ve seen on other sites that excites you. 

The agency  would then take some time to work out how that could be applied to your site and goals. They then confirm what functions your site needs and what you’re looking for and also ensure that your expectations are managed. Afterwards, they create a sitemap and make time to build rough wireframe to get an idea for placement. It's an important step as you're building your website.

They then proceed to design, where they mock up just how all the pages might look across all devices. The completed designs are the images of your future site. Finally, the design team move along to development, where they build an online site that suits the approved look, feel and function detailed in the proposal document. The developed working website is then delivered to the client in test form for review. So begins the adjustment period.

The three stages typically take eight to twelve weeks - based upon a wordpress site framework.

How Long Before We Can Present Our New Baby to The World

The final link in the chain is the “Adjustment Period”. We don’t limit it to a certain number of weeks - normally it takes as long as you need to review and alter your new website. 

This typically includes change requests for minor bugs on a web page or design inconsistencies. I would recommend budgeting at least two weeks for modifications.

The best way to get a website launched rapidly is usually to be prepared. 

This means:

Block out the right amount of time in your program to examine and review. Knowing when a site is going to drop is critical. Put the date in your diary. The quicker your developer can iterate through changes, the earlier the website gets put live. 

You can probably predict what content will be needed and also have it ready. Planning to have some case studies on your website? Great! 

Write this content while we’re developing and creating the site. Then you’ll be ready with a set of case studies and be ready to go.

One of the biggest final hurdles as a website builder is obtaining the custom domains details and web hosting information. Using a quality hosting plan is going to cost you money. But then this isn’t a free website any longer. Whilst it is an investment for a small business, ensuring that the domain details are to hand and that you have a quality plan for your website or online shop is vital. The key thing is that the domain can be dealt with during or before you start building.

It's also important to remember to allow time for finding your way around the new CMS - like the WordPress Dashboard.

The number one cause for delayed launches is lack of content. No one wants to launch a half-finished website, and content marketing is tough. Consider including content strategy and copywriting right into our project’s scope.

Once the site goes live, the important factors of adding and activating Google Analytics and other search engines, social media links and of course creating content, as well as utilising all of the other marketing tools available. If you're not sure which tools to use. Take the free trial or low cost period, to work it out. They may not all be right for you - at this moment.

In Summary: Just Tell Me - How Long Is It to Create a Website?

A typical timescale to create a custom website will take around 8 to 12 weeks at the very least from beginning to launch. This includes 2 weeks research and development, 4-6 weeks design, 1-2 weeks first development, and 1 week of modifications. It could take a lot longer if you hold out right up to the end to begin writing content.

They would provide a set of timescales we can have deliverables ready for your own review, and the date when we’ll need your feedback to stick to the schedule. Add these to your calendar so you’re ready to respond. If there are any extensions - like holidays and illness, let them know at the earliest opportunity so they can adapt the schedule accordingly.

An estimated timescale of starting with a developer to develop a website and a delay to the start time shouldn’t be the reason to hire or not an agency. You ought to be actively researching and hiring your agency and creative team team 4-6 weeks before your desired kick off date.

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