Crunch time. You’ve put it off long enough, and now you need a website. Fast. How long is it supposed to take? You’re probably getting information all across the board, with some saying it could take anywhere from 1 week to 6 months. Some websites even claim there is a “sweet spot” or one benchmark timeframe in which all websites should be built.
Here’s the truth: If you’re trying to hire a web designer based on how long it will take them to build it, you’re looking at the wrong metric. This kind of approach to choosing a web designer will give you a worse result than “you get what you pay for”. Why? Because you’ll likely pay a premium for speedy delivery of a website that wasn’t worth that kind of money in the first place.
There are several factors that determine the total time a website takes to build. It depends heavily on the complexity of the site (aka what you need it to do). However, most websites fall into similar categories of necessary functionality, and you should be able to get a rough estimate for how long it takes to build a website based on which of these categories your website falls into.
A Super Quick Guide To Types of Websites & How Long They Take To Build
[We’ll release a more in-depth guide in the coming weeks, so check back soon to download our infographic.]
If you are in the unique position of needing a website for the first time, my first piece of advice would be to first decide what you need your website to do and then find out what kind of websites your potential web designer has built before. My second piece of advice would be this: Don’t tell a web designer how to do their job (i.e. talk them down on their price or tell them a website “shouldn’t take 3 months to build”). If you like what they have to say, hire them. If you don’t, keep looking.
This Is The Part You Came Here For…
SMALL INFORMATIONAL WEBSITE (5–10 PAGES) — 2 to 4 MONTHS
(Yes, it really takes this long, even for a small website. We’ll tell you why in just a sec.)
MID-SIZED WEBSITES: E-commerce and Corporations — 3 to 6 MONTHS
COMPLEX FUNCTIONALITY WEBSITES — 9+ MONTHS
[Which of these defines the needs of your website? Find out here.]
What to Look For When Hiring A Web Designer
Now that we’ve covered the basic timeframes you came here to see, let’s break it down to why websites take so long to build. Take the above estimates as a rough estimate. In reality, there are several factors that determine how long it takes to build a great website. But the biggest determining factor is actually YOU, the client. Let’s walk through the most important things both the web designer and the client MUST do in order to expedite the process.
CLIENT: Have A Clear Objective
Do you have a clear picture in your mind of what you want your website to do? I put that in bold and italics because it’s actually very rare that a client comes to us knowing the right answer to this question.
Everyone knows that in order to run a successful business in 2017, you need a website. It has to be designed well, load quickly, be optimized for mobile phones and tablets, and above all it has to WORK. But what do you want it to do for you? Do you want to have a big, pretty, digital business card to direct people to when talking about what you do for a living? Or do you want to create a self-sustaining marketing machine that produces new leads while you sleep and fulfills e-commerce orders automatically? These are very different types of websites, and as such, will differ in how long they take to build.
So, before you approach a web designer, hoping they’ll build you a killer e-commerce website on a tight 3-week deadline, be sure you get really clear about what SPECIFIC RESULTS you want to see from your website and communicate that clearly to your web designer.
DESIGNER: Choose a Website Platform That Meets The Client’s Needs
You may not be very familiar with the plethora of website platforms that are out there, or the differences between them, but a great web designer can tell you the pros and cons of each and recommend which will help you reach your objective. If you’re looking for something you will be able to manage or update on your own, you might not want to work with a web developer who is a wicked fast expert developer, but only develops Drupal websites.
On the other hand, perhaps a custom website built in PHP or Python is the best solution for what you’re looking to achieve. Be open to new information and let the web designer share their knowledge with you of what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to seeing real results from a website. If a web designer can’t tell you the benefits or drawbacks of working in a particular platform, you might want to keep looking.
While custom coded websites take longer to build than a drag-and-drop builder (like Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly — more on why we think Squarespace is the only worthwhile drag-and-drop builder later), great web designers will build in a user-friendly CMS (content management system) to help you make edits and changes yourself once their job is complete. Wordpress is the CMS and web platform we use the most at @Stiltzmedia, as it is one of the most versatile and sophisticated web platforms today, used to power over 15.8 million websites (roughly 27% of the internet).
CLIENT: Content, Content, Content!!!
The more information you can give your web designer, the faster your project will be completed. Before you try to hire someone to build the site, first consider what information you want to communicate to your audience. We recommend hiring a business coach or brand consultant before meeting with a web designer or developer (or work with an agency that does both!), to be sure you’ve worked out the kinks with your company structure and product line. Writing your content — or at least refining your brand message and identifying your target audience — prior to working with a website designer makes the process of plugging in your well-crafted message on the site go much faster.
Tip: Working with a web design agency that offers copywriting services is an even bigger bonus — they know how to say what you want to say better than you could say it. And it will be intentionally crafted for your target audience. Don’t expect this service to be free — in a world where content is king, good writing could make all the difference in whether or not your website succeeds.
DESIGNER: Create Checkpoint Meetings & Set a Deadline
While you as the client might have a tight timeline, your developer may have 10–20 clients at a time who also have strict deadlines for completion. Plan to have a check-in call at least once a week with your web developer to ensure the project is on schedule for completion. Setting checkpoints leading up to the project deadline will keep everyone on the same page and give you peace of mind knowing that your project is in progress and on schedule.
Inevitably, most web projects experience some level of delay — whether there is a technical bug that is taking longer than expected to resolve, or the developer is waiting on the client for approval before they can move forward. When unexpected delays arise, your weekly checkpoints and predetermined deadline will help you get back on track to completing the website ASAP.
Tip: If you need a website done quick and cheap, try hiring a landing page designer. Check out the one-page landing page websites we’ve built for clients for under $1,000 to hold them over until they’re ready for the real deal. It’s not settling for less, it’s meeting an immediate need prior to having all the information you need.
Tips to Finishing A Website Ahead of Schedule
The most important phase of website development is the planning stage. Plan accordingly. Before we dive in to any web project at @Stiltzmedia, we have an extensive communication period where we get a complete picture of your company, your goals, your future objectives, and your current position in the market. We keep the big picture in mind throughout the web design and development process, using best practices to help increase your search engine visibility and set your website up for successful marketing upon completion.
We’ve built in a couple systematic anomalies to our business model that enable our clients to feel more comfortable and confident in working with us on their website projects. First, our detailed “big picture” brand analysis & strategy phase saves both parties from an endless revision cycle. Additionally, our clients never feel pressured to settle on parts of their website by having to preemptively declare a project complete. To find out how Stiltz Media Management differs from any web company you’ve worked with before, set up a time to meet with our CEO, one-on-one, and talk about how we can build you a successful brand, together. | www.stiltzmedia.com