How Long Does it Take to Make a Website?

This is the magic question. Meet the factors…

How Much Time Does it Take?

Size & Complexity

Yes, size does matters. A five page site likely will take less time than a ten page website. But, complexity needs to be taken into account. If your five page site has multiple forms, image sliders, custom video players, content filters etc. chances are it will take more time than the 10 page website. The more complex the elements are on the page, the more time they will take to design and especially develop. Forms take much longer to setup because you have to test and also style (design) and determine how the errors will appear if the form isn’t filled out correctly. JavaScript programing, required for many image sliders, tabbed sections, and more requires additional care in testing as well, adding to the time necessary to finish the project.

Tip Time Tip: Consider using similar page layouts for pages that have common content types. It will greatly decrease the time necessary in the design & development phases. If you’re in a time crunch, determine what rich media/interactive content is essential and what is unnecessary.

Planning

Content Strategy & Inventory

Where will your content come from? Does it already exist? Content is a very important factor in any web project. It’s the reason you need a design team in the first place. If there isn’t any content to design with, there is no project. Creating meaningful content can take some time. In fact it’s often what holds up a project in my experience. Performing a content inventory on your current site (if you have one) can help you and your team organize your content.  Decide what’s important to keep, what you can remove and what needs to be re-written or created.

Tip Time Tip:  To cut back on time, have your content ready before starting a web project. Hire a professional web copywriter or content strategist. There is a big difference between a copywriter who is focused on printed content vs. web content. They will know what you need as far as SEO is concerned so you have everything prepared before coming to a designer or developer.

Your Business & Audience

Who are your customers? What makes your business unique? Who are your competitors?

Having a conversation about your business & the audience you are looking to serve is a key piece to any web or design project. It takes a little bit of time for your web team to learn about your business and research your industry and/or competitors.

Design Phase

Wireframes

Wireframing is the act of creating a very basic layout of all the elements on a webpage. There are no graphics applied to a wireframe. Only the layout and arrangement of the elements on the page is considered.

Wireframing isn’t always necessary. Depending on the size and state of your website it can be extremely beneficially in saving time in the design & development phases.

The more elements and pages you are looking to have or re-design, the more helpful wireframing can be. If your project is very focused on providing a great experience for mobile users as well as desktop, wireframing is a great tool to plan out the different scenarios your content will be forced into.

Tip Time Tip: Wireframing requires more time upfront, but the long-term project benefits can outweigh the initial time necessary to wireframe.

Design

Developing the initial concept and look for a website is the most time consuming. Sketching, coming up with photography options, illustration etc. can take a considerable amount of time. But it all depends on how much custom artwork your project requires. Do you already have photography prepared for the project? Has your illustrator been buring the midnight oil on your homepage illustration already? Great! Remember, a web designer is not any of these things necessarily. Chances are they may have the talent, but the title web designer does not mean they will shoot your photos, paint you a portrait and design your website. The difference between a graphic designer and a illustrator is the designers ability to work with type and layout. A graphic designer takes the content and lays it out to best suite the medium, in this case a website.

Tip Time Tip: If you know your website will require photography work, illustration or other types of custom artwork, plan ahead if possible. This can save additional time in the process of creating a website.

Reviews & Feedback

Going through the design process, you’re going to have a few reviews and need to give feedback. The more available you are during a project, the faster the process can potentially go. If your feedback is constructive and your team has a clear vision of where to make revisions, chances are it will take less time.

Tip Time Tip: Having the chance to look at the design comps before the review can help cut back on the time needed to conduct the meeting or phone conference. This way you can create an outline of what you’d like to discuss during the meeting. Designating a meeting leader also can cut-back on wasted meeting time.

Development

Is your website going to be developed on a content management system? Will you have an email program? Are you accepting user content (IE. Reviews, comments, ratings, forums)? The more interactive the website, the longer it will take to develop. Is your site going to be mobile friendly? Will it work both horizontally and vertically on a mobile phone? The more factors your throw at your developers and designers, the longer it will likely take. Make sure these questions are considered in the planning & design phase and not just decided on at the end because Joe and Suzy are doing it too.

Tip Time Tip: The more you know upfront, the less time it will take to re-work during the development phase. It’s easier to move around shapes and lines in the wireframing stage than it is to re-design & code elements that may have a big impact on what is around it on the page.

Testing

So you’ve reached the end of the process, your website is just about ready to launch. But wait, don’t forget about testing! With multiple browsers, devices & content types, testing can really take a toll on your projects timeline.

Tip Time Tip: The more you know upfront, the less time it will take to re-work during the development phase. It’s easier to move around shapes and lines in the wireframing stage than it is to re-design & code elements that may have a big impact on what is around it on the page.

Mysterious Variables

Acts of Nature

Depending on the location of your team and the weather, acts of nature can happen and slow your project down. Power outages can be detrimental any project, let alone a web project. Consider the location of your team members carefully.

Vacations, Holidays & Illnesses

Are you planning a vacation during your web project? Is a big holiday coming soon for anyone on your team? Is your developer out sick? Communication is essential. If you know you’re going to be gone for a week or two, plan for it ahead of time. Let your team know that you celebrate St. Patricks Day with a big family vacation to Ireland. Don’t assume they know you’re Irish and proud of it.

What time saving tips have you learned from working on a web project?

Sarah Shuda

Sarah Shuda

Designer. Mom. Wife. Loves Gilmore Girls, healthy living and a good cup of coffee.

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