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How long does it take to build a website?

Woman holding a clock in front of a laptop

As a web designer, I often have clients that reach out for web design services and comment that they need the website “yesterday.” It’s unknown to most how long it takes to build a website. It will take longer than you expected, but don’t rush it. The timeline of a project depends on three main factors:

  1. How much of your content is ready to go?
    If you have all your website text, photos, and graphics ready to go, this can be a decisive factor in speeding up your website design.
  2. Are you hiring others to provide content for your new website?
    Are you getting new headshots, hiring a graphic designer for your logo, or working with a copywriter?  If so, what timeline have they presented to you for completion?
  3. Are you present for the next few weeks to respond to your web designer?
    Are there any big vacations coming in the next few weeks, or are you available to respond to questions and review designs as needed?

How much of your content is ready to go?

Every page of your website will need a combination of text, photos, and graphics.  Depending on the size of your website, this can be a daunting task for a business owner or organization.  The more content you have ready to go, the faster your website design can come together.  If you are coming to your web designer with nothing prepared, expect your website design to depend on your ability to produce content.  Remember that you can’t give your website designer that content and expect a turnaround in a couple of days.

Are you hiring out your content?

Getting help with your website design is a good thing. I encourage my clients to hire a trusted partner if they need a logo, copywriting, photography, or anything else they might need to complete a website.  However, these providers need time to create your content, which needs to be considered in your website design timeline.  Again, you will need to give your web designer time to work in your content while completing your project.

Are you available to participate in your project?

Do you have any big vacations or significant commitments within your business or organization in the next few weeks?  Web designers need your input on each phase of your project.  You will need to view and approve designed pages, supply hosting, and domain information, make connections between service providers and attend review meetings.  

How long does it take to complete a website design?

A typical website will take 60-90 days at a minimum from start to launch. Below is the sample timeline I provide in all my proposals:

SAMPLE PROJECT TIMELINE 

The amount of time it takes to put together all the elements of a website design varies greatly. We will discuss a timeline for your project during our proposal review. All estimated completion times are approximate. I will send you updates periodically as we work. This is just a sample timeline to show the flow of work and the average time to complete a web design project.

Education & Discovery Phase: 1-2 weeks

Before we dive into the design process, you will receive a daily email (weekends excluded) about what’s ahead, what you can expect from your experience, strategies to help us create a successful website, and more discovery questions. Some of these emails are just to read; others will say “action needed” and require a response. During this time, I am setting up our needed systems and laying the foundation for your new WordPress website.

Sitemap Phase: 1 week

Our first order of business is to create a sitemap. We list all the pages/posts we plan to build and organize your website navigation tabs. We will use a tool called Writemaps during this exercise. The number of pages/posts is shared in our estimate. The amount of time this takes depends on the size of your website. 

Prototype Phase: 1 week

I share a “no design” prototype with you in a browser window. Then, I set up hosting for this prototype and install WordPress. Next, I install and configure 15+ plugins needed for your site to function correctly, add basic safety features, and mobile responsiveness. Finally, in our site mapping process, I create all the empty pages we have defined for your website. 

Design Phase: 1-4 weeks

We create templates for your website pages using our prototype in the design phase. We focus on colors, fonts, and layout (look and feel) one page at a time. Our entire project timeline can speed up if your content is available at this stage. If not, we use placeholder text and photos like those found in many WordPress theme demos. Again, the size of your website will determine the number of page templates created. 

Development Phase: 2-4 weeks

At this stage, we now develop all pages using our design by placing your actual content into our templates. Therefore, your complete content is now needed. Content includes any fully edited text, photos, pdfs, or graphics.

If you’ve only sent partial content, I will ask for any remaining items I need from you to complete the website. After all your content is added, I will test website forms and functionality. I then finish the complete development of your website. The time this takes depends on the size of your website and the completion of your website content.

Important note: If you do not have a significant amount of content completed for the development phase, your project may be placed on hold. My contract has information regarding project dormancy. Dormancy applies if no forward progress is made towards content completion for 45 days. All delays move out projected timelines accordingly.

Browser Testing: 1-7 days

Browser testing no longer means making a website look the same in browsers of different capabilities or on devices with different size screens, settings, or resolutions. However, it does mean ensuring that a person’s experience of a design should be appropriate to the capabilities of that browser or device. The developed prototype is tested in current versions of major desktop browsers, including those made by Apple (Safari), Google (Chrome), Microsoft (Edge), Mozilla (Firefox), and the current mobile browsers for iOS and Android. No testing is done for outdated or obscure browsers.

Launch Phase: 1-7 days

You will have a chance to review each website page thoroughly and all the content on both desktop and mobile. With your approval, I will publish to your hosting and once again perform browser testing in major browsers and devices. I test forms and functionality. I connect your site to your Google Analytics account, so we have traffic data to track. Please note that launching your website is a multi-day event.

Training Phase: 45 minutes

Some clients prefer to have WebCami do all their maintenance, some want to do it independently, and others want a combination of the two. A 45-minute Zoom meeting is recommended, and more than one person can attend. The training session is recorded for future reference and uploaded to Dropbox. Video tutorials are also installed in your WordPress dashboard for future reference whenever you need them.

Support: Ongoing

I will provide 30 days of support after launch to ensure any bugs/small changes have been ironed out and that you are confident using your new website. After launching the website, you’ll also receive follow-up information, resources, tips, and tools to make managing your site easier. You can continue to reach out for web design services as defined in our signed contract on an ongoing basis as long as our agreement remains in place. If you have chosen to enroll in care plan services, you will receive your first report.

DELAY IN TIMELINE EXAMPLE:

Assuming you provided all your content on May 1st and I’ve estimated 8 weeks to completion, your website will be published on or near July 1st. 

If you have a delay in responding to task requests or completing all your content, that time frame is pushed out accordingly. For example, if I receive all of your content on June 1st, your estimated completion is now August 1st.

Are you ready to start your new website design?

I would love to talk to you about your web design project and give you a realistic idea of how much time and effort it will take to complete.  Just reach out to me for a free consultation.

Cami MacNamara

Owner/Designer at WebCami Site Design. Providing web design services in Seattle since 2002. Follow me: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram