A successful website consists of many moving parts, and the entire process of building a site from start to finish can vary tremendously depending on many different factors.
What should you expect from the typical website build, though? What are the different elements that have an impact on your anticipated launch date?
One of the most important steps in the process is choosing the web design agency you want to partner with. Once that’s settled, though, a similar roadmap will be followed for a lot of website builds. Let’s explore a general timeline before taking a closer look at some of the factors that will influence how long it takes to build your site.
Creating a Plan (2-10 Weeks)
Have you ever heard the adage “an hour of planning can save you ten hours of doing”? When building a website, having a solid plan will ensure that you don’t waste valuable resources (i.e., time and money) through trial and error during development.
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The foundation for the success of your project is the planning and discovery phase. Depending on a variety of factors, this step could take as little as two weeks or as long as ten or more weeks. It’s important not to try and rush through this stage of the process, as it is the bedrock the entire site will stand on.
Let’s look at the elements that are typically an essential part of the planning phase.
During this stage of designing a website, the web design company you hire will conduct research in order to grasp the goals and objectives of your project.
They will also dive deep into the company itself in order to learn more about the internal team structure and business models. This can ensure that the project is a success and reflects the needs and desires of the company.
Requirements and/or Definitions Document
This is where you bring brief documents to the table that outline what the project requirements are.
Depending on how much experience you have with building or redesigning websites, as well as the expertise of the web design company you’re working with, this can also be a collaborative project between the client and the design and development team.
Security is a growing concern in the world of web design, and this document is key when an IT team or security professionals are going to be involved in choosing the technical direction or approving work.
Do you have internal design resources, or you’re interested in bringing in a third party to collaborate on the project?
If so, a creative brief will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the process of having several cooks in the kitchen goes smoothly.
Discovery sessions are meetings between the person who wants to make a website and the people who are going to make that website. This is when all of the essential foundations of the site will be discussed before the development phase begins.
During this time, the web design company will collect and analyze all of the vital info they need to create the website you want.
This information includes but is in no way limited to the following:
- The target audience
- The desired outcome
- The goals of the project
The discovery phase is used to help create a project roadmap. This roadmap will clearly outline the timeline and the roles played by each individual on the development and ensign team. Additionally, it will define important milestones and when each will be met.
Regardless of how simple or complex you expect your website to be, a sitemap will present a visual understanding of your project.
This tool will help to build a usable and functional site and can help organize otherwise complicated information into an easy-to-understand visual representation.
Detailed Architecture Briefs and Documents
The architecture briefs and documents will result from the above stages.
In these semi-technical documents, the project is explained in a readable yet in-depth way that the client can then review and approve.
A wireframe is a simple sketch that helps to map out the navigation and main features of your site.
This is a useful step regardless of whether you are building a new site from scratch or redesigning an existing site.
Content Creation and SEO (5-15 Weeks)
There are many pieces to a successful website, and you need more than a sleek look and a highly functional interface to fulfill the full potential of your project. After all, without great content that appeals to the target audience, it’s hard for a site to be as successful as possible.
You can choose to contribute your own web copy and content to the project, or you can choose to outsource this to the web design agency you’re working with. Content creation can be an enormous task if you’re building a large site, but it can usually overlap with other phases of the process.
The content you choose to put on your site should help communicate your brand personality and offer valuable information to your target audience while also being SEO-friendly. At White Peak, our specialty is helping our clients tell an engaging and compelling story on their site through their copy and content.
UI/UX Design (4-12 Weeks)
It might seem like a lot of time goes into research and planning, but when you give thorough attention to the project’s initial planning, the rest of the stages often go much more smoothly.
Once you’ve made the upfront investment of detailed research, planning, and discovery, the design stage can begin. During this phase, mockups will be created by the design team and handed over to the client for approval.
This is when the look of the website is fleshed out as well as the functionality. Let’s explore a number of the elements that are typically involved in a mockup.
This is the visual representation of the homepage as well as key interface elements.
First, creating a single, central interface to start with can help create cohesiveness throughout the site as further pages and elements are incorporated down the road.
Desktop and Mobile Views
Did you know that more than 60% of all web traffic comes from mobile phones? In the past, incorporating the mobile view of a site was often overlooked, but that simply isn’t an option anymore.
More and more people are using their phones and other devices to access the internet, and they will likely bounce off your site if it doesn’t have a sleek and functional mobile display.
Web design teams will sometimes use design systems in order to produce the highest quality website with the most efficiency. A design system is a group of components that can be reused throughout the process of creating a website.
This can help to cut down on development time and therefore help you stay within budget on your project.
Internal Page Designs
If you don’t want to use a design system or the company you’re working with chooses not to use them, each internal page will need to be designed piece by piece.
Website Development and Coding (6-15 Weeks)
Now it’s time for all of your hard work to start to pay off. At this point, your website will really begin to come to life, and the actual website will start being built.
A significant portion of the project timeline is taken up by development and coding, even though the client can largely sit back and relax at this point. How long it takes for a site to be developed is going to depend a lot on the complexity and size of the project.
There are also a bunch of different techniques that developers can use to manage their projects, including Waterfall and Agile. Depending on which methodology they go with, it can impact the timeframe and the order of operations.
Testing and Review (2 to 7 Weeks)
Once your site is fully functional and the web development stage is complete, it’s necessary to run extensive QA testing. Depending on what is discovered during this phase, bugs can be fixed, and other changes can be made so that the site is in tip-top shape when it comes time to launch.
Once the design company has run all of its tests and fixed any issues that popped up, they’ll then present it to you for review.
Official Launch (1 Day-3 Weeks)
Congratulations! The time you’ve been waiting for has arrived: launch time. This is when the finished site is migrated from the development server to the production server on your domain, an SSL is implemented, and more.
Because you and your web development company did such a good job meeting all of the milestones you set, the process of actually launching the site is fairly quick and easy. That being said, complex sites are always going to be more involved at every stage, so a large project will take a bit longer to launch after the testing and review process is complete.
Maintenance and Ongoing Improvements (Ongoing)
You might think that all of the hard work is over once your site is launched, but for your project to reach its full potential, you’ll also need to perform maintenance and provide updates over time.
For example, new content will need to be added on a regular basis to stay competitive in search engines, you might choose to make design tweaks down the road, you could choose to audit your site after a Google algorithm update, and you might have to make changes to keep your site secure and safe for your visitors.
Factors That Can Influence Your Website Timeline
While this is a general timeline for web development, there are countless factors that can influence how long it will take for your site to be built or redesigned from start to finish.
Whether You’re Using a Template or Building a Custom Site
One factor that can have a huge impact on your timeline is whether your site is being built using a template or if you’re creating a custom site.
There are benefits to both strategies, but the downsides of building a custom site include a longer time to launch and a bigger final price tag.
Which Website Builder You Choose
If you’re building an e-commerce site, you’re going to run into the question of which e-commerce builder and content management system you’re going to use.
Two big players in the world of e-commerce websites are Shopify and WordPress, each of which has its own perks and drawbacks.
Scale and Complexity
How large and complex your project is will have a significant effect on your timeline.
Sites that have hundreds of pages or extensive amounts of content will take a lot longer to complete than a simpler project.
DIY Vs. Hiring a Web Design Company
Are you thinking about building the site yourself, or are you toying with the idea of hiring it out?
Depending on which option you choose and the level of experience and skill held by each respective party, the final timeline of your project can vary immensely.
Skill and Experience
Whether you’re doing it yourself or you’re hiring a web design company, the skill and experience of the individuals building the site will impact how soon you can expect to launch.
Experienced developers and designers will be able to put sites together much more quickly than someone that is experimenting with web design for the first time.
Bugs and Issues
A thorough QA testing process can ensure that bugs and issues are worked out before launch.
Even the most highly skilled developers and designers can encounter little bugs and technical issues, and this is something that can impact the final timeline.
If a project starts to morph and shift after it’s begun, it can mean the entire site takes longer to develop.
This is one of the reasons that the planning part of the process is so crucial: the more you plan, the fewer changes that need to be made during design and development.
Need Help Building Your New Site?
Choosing the right web design and digital marketing agency to work with is key when you want your website to be built in a timely and predictable manner. White Peak is an award-winning digital marketing agency that can help you build a new site from the ground up or redesign your existing site.
In addition to web design, we offer national and local SEO, Facebook and Google advertising, branding, content marketing, and many more services. If you’re ready to get started or have any questions about how we can help you build a successful site, reach out and say hello.
Tim Woda is the CEO and founder of White Peak Marketing. He has been on the founding team of five successful start-ups and his digital marketing campaigns have acquired more than 800 million customers for his start-ups and White Peak’s client companies. Tim has been featured by The New York Times, Fox News, Forbes, The Huffington Post, and more. Under Tim’s direction, White Peak was selected as one of America’s Top Digital Marketing Agencies for 2021 by MarTech Outlook magazine.