How Long Does it Take to Build a Custom Website?
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This is one question asked all the time by founders who are looking to build a custom website. There is a lot of confusion and different answers regarding this topic mainly because it is hard to standardise a website into one easy definition. When you say 'website' - do you mean an online magazine like Entrepreneur.com, or an e-commerce website like Amazon which helps people buy items online, or social media websites like Twitter or Facebook, or many of the other options available?
At the minimum, it will take at least 14 weeks to build a custom website. Here are the 3 most important factors to consider while answering this question:
1. What is the developers process for building a website?
2. How fast can you give feedback to the developer once s/he submits something for you to review?
3. How fast can you produce all the content required for the website?
What is the Developers Process for Building a Website?
Each developer has their own process of going from an idea stage to finished product, but it usually is similar in structure to other developers. For example, below is the process to follow while building websites.
1. Idea Stage (1 week) : All projects start with an idea, but right in the beginning of the project, you have not yet flushed out all the details of your idea. Therefore it is good to spend a week researching the industry and really understanding the problem you are trying to solve.
2. Wireframes (2 weeks) : The idea is then converted into simple wireframes using online tools - e.g. Balsamiq. The developer is basically trying to design how each page should look like from a macro perspective. You are only focussing on the bigger picture : what are the important pages, what type of content goes on these pages, what is the flow between each page.
3. Feedback and Changes (1 week): During this stage you are giving feedback to the developer on the things you'd like changed in the wireframe. Because the wireframe is done on Balsamiq, the revisions can be done quickly.
4. Design(3 weeks): Once the wireframes are finished, then you move on to creating live mockups in this stage using HTML, CSS and JS. It is important to note that none of these live pages needs to be connected at this stage.
5. Feedback and Changes (1 week): During this review, you can suggest changes to the design stage. The mockups will keep changing until you are happy with the look and feel of all the pages.
6. Development (4 weeks): Only after the developer has finished the design stage and all it's revisions, does s/he start the backend development work. This cannot be done simultaneously as the backend work is driven by what is needed in the front end. This is usually the longest stage in the project, and takes the most time to complete.
7. Feedback and Changes (2 weeks): This final revision stage is there to test the website in live production mode and make changes as required until you are happy with the final version of the website.
5. Launch: On launch day, the developer adds analytics for tracking, sitemaps and takes your project live.
How fast Can You Give Feedback to the Developer Once s/he Submits Something For You to Review?
Most projects get delayed because of the time taken to give quick feedback. You can see in the process outlined that there are three different 'Feedback and Changes' stages. You need to make sure that you are giving effective feedback to your developer so that the project can be completed as scheduled. It's important to sum up all your thoughts and get back to the developer quickly. Usually, most developers, give you 24-48 hours to take in, review and give feedback to their work.
How fast can you produce all the content required for the website?
Delay in collecting content for the website is the number one reason for projects missing their deadlines and taking a long time to complete. Example, if there is a FAQ page on the website, submitting the questions and answers for the FAQ page is the most important factor in the page going live. If there are images to be included on the website, make sure that you have them ready before the developer needs them. Having your content ready will ensure that your website is launched on schedule.
The time is taken to complete a website largely depends on the type of website you want to build, and the type of features you want the website to have. On an average, it usually takes a minimum of 14 weeks to build - 1 week for idea stage, 2 weeks for wireframe, 3 weeks for design, 4 weeks for development and 4 weeks for feedback and changes.