You are a small business and you have decided to build a website to mark your online presence. Or, most probably you already have one, but which is out of date, as technology advances at a fast pace and until now it was not a priority for you. Now that you have seen the high rate trends of surfing the web and the advantages that a good web presence brings to a business, you’ve made your decision that it is the time to redesign your website and give it a new breath.
In this article we will focus on the timeline that is needed to build a powerful website from scratch.
Before setting a launch deadline, there are a couple of things to consider:
- You need to choose the web design provider;
- You need to decide on the size of your future web project.
Choosing the website provider that suits your project
Although experience is more valued than the skills and capabilities, it is best to get rid of this stereotype. Many inexperienced web agencies have little time on the market, but they can win you over with their new methodologies and approach to work. A conversation with the agency you are considering to hire for the website project will throw light on many questions. Ask them about their methods and working process; see if they can identify with your business values and if they can meet your business goals.
Although veterans have a better reputation and image, younger agencies can often come with more clever and inventive ideas. The point is whether the agency understands the industry you’re working in and if it has delivered similar projects before. If they have, ask for testimonials from previous clients.
Another important element is the strategy that the web design agency follows in accomplishing projects. It is important for you as a client that the agency’s strategy to be in line with the objectives of your business and to allow you to stay within the deadline and the budget.
In your web design shop quest you will interact with agencies who will state that they can deliver your website project in 1-2 weeks. This short timespan can raise questions as to whether they are the best candidate to cater to your project.
Setting a short timeframe for delivering a website project can mean that this particular agency probably is not as good as it states it is. It is a known fact that professionals are in great demand and they always have several projects on the go.
Besides the busy factor, there are other time-related aspects to be considered. A short production cycle can mean that the website building agency/designer will put less thought into your project, or will make use of standard website templates. If you know and understand all these points, the deadline set by the agency can make you see the bigger picture and the expectations you can have from it.
The size of the website and the development timeline
Nowadays website developers cater to all types of businesses, from small to large-sized. Every business has its own values and strategies. This is why it is crucial for the designer to understand the way the business works and the functionalities it wants its website to include.
Small websites are among the simplest ones. They are often informational, business card sites, usually consisting of 4-6 pages. There are also additional features that can be embedded, such as contact page, gallery, blog, social media links, calendar and other small features. This type of websites usually takes up to 3-5 weeks to build.
Mid-size informational websites are similar to small sites, but consist of additional subpages and bear additional options. They usually have 10-20 pages and include the following elements as additional features: contact page, social media links, blog, calendar, gallery and etc. To build a mid-size, functional and high-quality website it takes from 4 to 8 weeks.
Also, if you intend to build an e-commerce website, there are other additional features that must be included to make it functional. Such elements as shopping cart, customer account dashboard, product configurators, membership, multi-lingual features are mandatory for its good functionality. However, development of eCommerce sites involve additional time and cost.
Understanding the process of web design creation can be a good explanation for the time needed to complete the project. There are different stages that are followed to get to the happy ending.
Website development stages
The development of a high-quality site, that will reflect the organization’s goals, involves several complex stages that cannot be missed in order to get the expected result.
The stage-by-stage process translates more clearly the need for such a long period of time to design and develop a website.
At this phase the website developer is collecting all information he can get his hands on from as many sources as possible. If the client has an idea of how his future site should look like and he is really anticipating the end result, he will talk hours on end about the project, coming up with ideas and everything he envisions about it.
It is imperative to determine the site’s audience at this stage. Chances are that the client already knows who his audience is and who this site is intended for. Identifying such demographic information like: age, gender, location will help the developer to cater to the client’s customers’ needs.
- Tools like Mention can help easily set up alerts on keywords and queries you care about.
- Forums and groups are great ways to build new relationship and see what people are sharing and talking about your product or service.
- Quora lets you provide value to your potential customers and also let them add value to your company.
- Facebook groups, LinkedIn Groups or Google Communities help you to discover and stay in touch with your future customers.
Another good thing is to single out competition. Even though the website idea is unique, there is always direct or indirect competition.
Website’s goal is also determined during this stage. It can be: to engage customers online, online marketing, monetization and etc.
After this briefing stage, the web designer ends up with general information and the client’s expectation from his project. This will help the designer to follow the right direction from the project’s starting line and to avoid additional timing and cost.
The team of website developers usually need more or less one week to make their homework and gather all required information about the industry the website will be developed for.
At this stage sketches of the future website are built so that the client can get a hint on how it will feel to navigate across the site. The prototype should enable the client to experience the way he will navigate from the menu to different pages and will interact with the site’s interface. This will show how pages connect across the site. During this phase it is seen whether the available content is enough to fill in all the site’s pages, or if additional content is required.
A good option will be to think of and to identify different scenarios that the end user will follow when navigating through the site. This is crucial as they can give the website builder answers to the weak points in the existing prototype.
This step lasts no less than 2 weeks, although it depends on the scale of the project.
This is the stage when the site gets visual clothing on. It is the most creative part of the process, as it involves playing with colors, typography, button shapes, and overall graphics. Now is the time when all illustrations, photography, audiovisual content is created. Design is also one of the most complex stages of the process. It is the step when all information known about the company, its goals, its target audience, its values and mission are merged to get the outer layer of the website appealing and in line with the company’s strategies.
This stage requires most of the time – from 2 to 8 weeks, depending on the website size.
At this stage the website gets shape. Keeping in mind the prototype specifications, the web developer builds the site’s pages and fills them with the content provided by the client. If everything was agreed in the previous stages, the development phase runs smoothly. Nevertheless, it is the time when, while developing the whole site, the developer discovers weak points and deals with them to improve site navigation and overall experience.
The time spent for the site layout and CMS integration takes from 2 to 3 weeks. But it also depends on the size and complexity of the project.
Testing and launch
Once the site has been built, it is the time to test it. It is a good idea to have the testing done by third parties, i.e. people that have not been involved in the whole website building process. This way constructive criticism and feedback about design, navigation, features, typography and functionality is obtained.
Now that everything has been thoroughly tested and corrected, all files are transferred to the hosting server linking the domain and the website is made live for the larger audience.
For this stage 30% of the time spent on the website development is used.
The time for building a website depends on the complexity of the project. Although, this is one of the major aspects of the process, there are other factors that influence the period a website project is delivered to the client. It is about the period for gathering information about the client’s industry, getting to grips with the client’s expectations, needs and goals. There is also the creative part of the process, which is probably the most time-consuming, especially if the focus is put on uniqueness.
This being said, when you contact a web design agency for a website project, keep in mind all the development stages described above and most importantly decide what’s most important for you: time or quality.
How long would you expect to build a website? Share your thoughts in the comments below!