How long does it take to make a website?
One of the first questions a client will ask is “how long will it take to design and build our website?”.
I’m going to cut to the short, quick answer. In most cases, a website takes about six to twelve weeks to be strategized, designed, developed, tested, and launched. The breakdown of time and effort is as follows:
- Strategy and planning: 15%
- Usability and visual design: 20%
- Programming: 40%
- SEO: 5%
- Content entry: 10%
- Testing: 10%
The time it takes to make a website is based on these four primary factors:
- Complexity – of features and requirements.
- Project Management – the people and the process involved.
- Client readiness – client content and internal process.
- Budget – money allocated to the effort.
As a business owner, you are actually in control of three of these factors:
Complexity: The website is built to accomplish your business goals so that sets the level of complexity required. The more complex features you have, the more integrations with other systems, the more complex and time intensive the project will be. The more you can compromise or reduce the complexity the shorter the time to build the website. Keep in mind, if a quick launch is desired, you may be able to “phase in” your features so your website will launch in a “Phase 1”, with reduced features, that you can then expand on and scale post-launch.
Client readiness: This factor refers to several components.
- How ready you are with website content.
- Do you have text and imagery ready to go, or do you still have to write and edit content for the website sections? In our experience, this is one of the main factors that delay website launch.
- Do you have a streamlined, internal approval process with your business stakeholders? For large organizations, the approval of website content and design can be convoluted as each stakeholder wants to promote their view of what’s important. The more the business can do to streamline the internal approval process, the quicker the website will launch.
- Do you have a dedicated internal project manager or point-person? Make sure that he/she has the expertise, and allocates enough time in their schedule to focus on the website project.
Budget: Larger budgets can help expedite website development. The most common way budget can expedite is by buying a priority position with your agency. Agencies usually have multiple projects concurrently in development. A higher budget should increase the resources available for your project and shorten the development time. A larger budget can also help the client prepare the website content and have it ready when needed by the digital agency.
Project Management: This critical factor for project success is harder for a business to control, especially if the website project is being managed by an external agency. An agencies tools, process, and priorities are difficult for the client to observe. The more transparent and communicative the agency is, the better. It is important for clients to clearly understand the development process and communication of project milestones and status. If the website is an internal project, it is still dependent on the expertise and experience of the internal project manager. If the project manager has limited experience, then the potential for missteps increases.
Which website projects can be built in short time frames?
Websites with faster build times include:
- Templated, or out-of-the-box solutions that require little customization. An example of this would be going with a popular WordPress theme and doing as little tweaking as possible.
- Hosted website solutions like Wix, Squarespace, or Shopify. These projects are basically already built and hosted, so little effort is required, especially if customization is minimal.
- Simple websites that require minimal navigation and features.
One-page websites and landing pages fall into this category. If your website falls into one of the above categories, you could be launched within 3 weeks.
Which website projects require longer time frames?
- Large business or organizations with multiple business units.
- ERP or 3rd-party integrations require more time for testing APIs.
- Businesses with commerce or membership functions.
- Database migrations of client or customer data.
- Other custom functionalities such as product configurators, or user dashboards.
It’s not uncommon for a website project of this scope to take 4 to 8 months to develop.
If you are using a digital agency to develop your website, they should have enough experience to estimate the time required for launch. They can also let you know how best to mitigate any project slowdowns.
Beware of scope creep which can result in change orders. Scope creep is very common and occurs when the client requirements change for some reason and have to be included in the project in process. It is important to understand the Change Order Process that your agency or internal team will adopt. Not all change orders will increase the project time but it really depends on the complexity of the change and the time that it is introduced to the project. For example, changing a font style or button color can be accomplished in less than an hour or two, whereas adding a new section to the website or changing a page layout can take much longer. We have a free download that outlines the dangers of scope creep for both the agency and client.