As a developer, this is probably the most common question I get. As a customer, it should be one of your most important questions to ask.
Just like any other service which is based on creative work, website design and development usually will take longer than expected. Don’t fret, though; quality work takes time and it will be well worth the wait.
I tend to be conservative on timelines, so as to not set a customer’s expectations too high. There have been times, however, when projects have required me to extend the timeline due to unforeseen circumstances. Regardless, understand that a good design takes consideration and flexibility…don’t rush.
Here are some key questions asked about a website build’s timeline:
How soon can you start?
Finding a quality designer, especially in the WordPress arena, can be a time-grabbing task. When in high demand, it may take your designer time to actually start.
When can I see the new website?
A good designer has a systematic approach to how he or she completes the building process, and should be able to give you a fairly good estimate of when you’ll be able to see their work.
When will the website be launched?
The last step is crucial, and ultimately relies on you! This part of the process involves things like content review, usability feedback, change requests and content finalization. Again, you (the client) are an integral part of the website launch process!
How soon can you start?
This question often conjures up some emotional responses from the designer. If you then follow up this question with “because I need the website up and running in a month,” you’ll dwindle your chances of getting a quality designer to take your project quickly. This is simply because most quality designers are fairly busy, and are frankly all booked up. Giving a little extra time to your designer can go a long way in regards to freeing up precious moments to “fit you in” to their workflow.
A Better Approach
Instead of leading your search with this question, explain what needs you have and allow the designer to provide you with some solutions and the amount of time they could take. This allows you to make your selection in regards to their recommendations, the timeline, services offered and the overall cost.
The time it takes for a designer to start on your project can vary. The individual or company you hire can have multiple clients booked as far as several months in advance. At shift dot, we typically have clients lined up about a month ahead.
I recently was contacted to do work for an entity with multiple websites. The point of contact ended up using a different design company due to the magnitude of the requirements and the short timeline. This was a decision that, although I would have loved to have the extra work, ended up working better for the both of us.
When Can I See the New Website?
The design process can take a while, and begins with determining your wants/needs as a customer. We don’t presume to understand the realm of business in which you operate, but ask pertinent questions to determine the best course of action. As outlined in our development process on the homepage, there are several stages of the development process which need to be addressed before you actually WANT to see the site. I won’t go into great detail on these steps (as they’re outlined in the link above), but safe to say it’s a complex and systematic process to get to the point of previewing the new website.
When Will the Website Be Launched?
The last step prior to actually “launching” the website is the Test/Launch phase. This phase involves allowing a select group of users to access the site and provide feedback as to its overall ease of usage. Items such as page load time, organization of content and menus, and image placement are just a few of these.
The time needed for this step can vary greatly, and really shouldn’t be rushed. This time is used to “work out the kinks” and tweak any inconsistencies you may have. I’d tell any client to give at least two weeks for this process, as it’s ensuring you don’t submit a “half-baked” product to your website visitors. After all, your website is a DIRECT reflection of your business and/or products. Launch it right the first time, and you’ll get better results. After final approval is given from the designer and you, full site launch is commenced.
Note: The ultimate reason website launches are delayed is due to incomplete or inaccurate content. Content creation takes time and is most-often the difficult task in the overall creation process. You’ll want to factor in content strategy and copywriting services within your project scope, as this may have a large impact on the overall timeline for your launch.
So, Really, How Long Does it Take to Build a Website?
Most websites will take a minimum of 12 weeks from start to finish. This timeline includes 2 weeks of planning and gathering info, 6 weeks of design / development, and 2 weeks of testing prior to launch. Remember, the time can be greatly increased if your content is not delivered in a timely fashion.
The estimate above doesn’t include selecting your developer, nor any delays they may have based on availability. It’s a good idea to give yourself at least 3 months to find a good designer / developer due to the reasons mentioned above. Read our article on the differences between a designer and developer.
Just a small disclaimer: This article relates to building a custom WordPress site through an individual or company. WordPress is a Content Management System that can be greatly customized according to your needs. It’s a proven, secure platform to build with, and millions of websites have been built on this technology. If you don’t need a custom website, there are indeed faster and more affordable options. Contact us for guidance if you’d like…we’re always here to help you find the right fit.