Building a new website is one of the most important investments you can make for your business or organization. As fun as it can be at times, it can also be one of the most exhaustive projects you’ll ever take on. It’s a long, multifaceted process that requires collaboration between various members of your own team as well as your web design agency. It’s a big decision and an even bigger undertaking that will require a little patience and a lot of big picture thinking. So the question is, how long does it take to build a website?
That’s a great question and one that definitely needs to be asked of your agency. And as much as we wish we could give you an exact number here, the truth is that it depends.
Is that a cop-out answer? I suppose to some degree it is. But so many variables go into building a site from the ground up, that it would be impossible to present a blanket answer to the question.
I suppose technically if you managed a simple DIY website with just a couple pages and you wanted something similar, you could probably knock it out in a couple hours depending on your familiarity with the content management system. But we’re betting that’s not what you had in mind here. That would be like selling your house and paying more for an identical one down the street because it had a slightly newer coat of paint.
Because your website is such an important investment, it’s usually best to start with a blank slate and design the website of your dreams; not just switch a few things around and call it “new.” Sure, that route is neither quicker nor easier, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
So assuming that you’re wanting to build a somewhat involved site from scratch with all new content, photos, layouts, etc., then the timeline is extended…significantly.
For example, on average it takes our team about 120 working days to take a website from the idea stage to launch. Of course we know there will be back and forth email chains, scheduling issues, obstacles, hiccups, and aspects that will have to be “run by the team” or “sent up the ladder”. It’s just part of doing business. For these reasons, we give our clients a rough estimate of about four to five months before a site launches.
What does this entail? For our projects, we adhere to a ten-step process: Gathering, research, strategic planning, content planning, wireframing, design, development, quality assurance, launch, and post launch. We work closely with the client throughout the early stages in an effort to learn the market and industry and to develop quantifiable goals for the site. We’ll have collaborative meetings with our clients throughout the process as well as major timeline checkpoints which require client review and approval. Our goal throughout the early stages is to get everything laid out exactly the way it should be before we turn it over to our development team to bring to life (it’s a lot easier and quicker to make revisions before the development stage than it is to make them after).
So what can alter the estimated timeline? Lots of things. From a development standpoint, the complexity of the design, limitations of third-party systems, or overall functional requirements of the site can certainly add some time to the project. From a content or design standpoint, it can expectedly come down to the sheer number of menu items and pages in the site. But some of the more common delays stem from having too many “irons in the fire” or “cooks in the kitchen” in the early stages. Remember, your website is going to be representative of your entire organization–and everyone within that organization is going to want to chip in their two cents. For these reasons, we recommend keeping your internal planning team as lean as possible. You may run into some objections, but it’ll save you time and headaches in the long run.
Now we’re obviously not trying to dissuade you from commiting to a website build (that would be rather unwise of us). We just want to briefly lay out the processes it involves and make you aware of the time commitment at which you’ll be looking. If you asked ten different agencies how long their builds take, you’re likely going to get ten different answers. Just keep in mind that the process takes time and that it’s all worth it in the end.