A common question asked by small business owners is, “How long does it take to create a website.”
In my experience with my clients, a website can be done as quickly as one week to several months.
Table of Contents
- Overview of my web development timelines
- Factors affecting website development speed
- Sample timelines for different types of websites
- 2 weeks: one-page websites; landing page
- 1 month: small business website
- 3 months: app with login, voting functions
- What would speed up the web building process?
- OK, the website is up. Now what?
Overview of my web development timelines
Most websites are built in four phases.
1) Discovery phase of creating a website
This is the phase where we web devs and clients decide on what we want.
Clients will call asking whether I can do A, B or C. They give an overview of what they want to achieve and what they want to solve.
With this overview, I will start to try to understand what they need. Once I get a better sense of what I need to deliver, I send a proposal with timelines, technical details and a design overview.
2) Web design
One item that my clients will chat about is how they envision their website looking like.
I will propose a high-level design architecture, and if they like the idea, I will go ahead and build out the pages in a design program.
Some clients require help with SEO and copywriting. If this is so, we’d agree to a time where I can interview them on the phone or ask questions by email in order to fill the website with content.
Soon, my clients will receive PDFs or links to the mock-ups of the pages.
Then, the client will give feedback or approve the design.
Once approved, this generally sets in stone how the website will be designed and that allows me to go ahead to create the website.
3) Coding the website
This is generally where I will start putting the website together given the requirements outlined by the client.
Depending on the timeline, I might decide to give weekly updates just to ensure my clients that I am still keeping the ball rolling.
Of course, in shorter projects, there isn’t such a need so I keep our email boxes clean of extraneous communication.
4) Hosting, testing the website
The final stage is sometimes very straightforward and can sometimes be a bit more complicated.
I generally try to help my clients by taking the weight of hosting off their shoulders. This means that they’ll get their website online without them having to lift a finger.
At this stage, I and my client will try to review every web page for errors in content and technical errors. I try to view my website on different devices to ensure compatibility and encourage my clients to do so.
Factors affecting website development speed
The most important factor that will heavily influence the speed of a website’s development involves two humans: you and the website developer.
Let’s examine how you can influence production speed.
When a client contacts me, they already know they want a website.
But what kind of website?
You: do you know your vision for the website?
Some clients have a better understanding of what they want. Others find out about what they want as I go through a list of questions that I ask as part of discovery.
I’ve put together a list of questions that can help you through this process.
If you are starting a new project, I can help you find fonts that fit your vision as well as colours, fonts and other branding-centric design elements.
I personally think branding is very important to establish early. You must like the design and commit to it as this can significantly impact your business down the road.
Think about it: if you commit to a brand identity, but decide down the road that you don’t like it, then you’d have to re-do your business cards and other stationery.
However, if you like
You: do you have the required materials for the website?
Content is very important in producing a website.
Web designers can help you find stock imagery but ultimately you should keep an eye to developing a cache of photography, art and fonts.
From my end, I don’t expect my clients to have icons or knowledge of visual design.
I mean, if my clients were experts at graphics and websites, they’d already be creating their own websites.
However, there are some things that no web developer can do in lieu of you.
If you are a tradesperson who has built a house, take pictures! You might never get to go into that building ever again.
If you are a coach and have trainees who want to leave you a testimonial, get those in a video/photo/text! It’s harder to get a testimonial much later.
These little gems become very important in creating a fuller picture of what you do, and it helps build a complete picture.
You: do you have a domain name?
I do advise my clients to always get their own domain names and pass it to their developer.
Ask yourself: do you want to buy a house whereby someone else keeps the original title?
No, you’d give them a photocopy. You want ultimate control over what you own.
In the same vein, some of my clients comment that the developers they hired in the past disappeared or take very long to reply.
Keep the keys to your domain and give the developer access by adding them to the domain management team.
It’s not very difficult. You can buy it off Google Domains, GoDaddy, Namecheap, etc.
For a typical domain registration, you should only pay $10-$30 for the domain. If you want a premium domain, prepare to pay more.
Typically, domain names that cost a premium tend to be ones that have short addresses.
Also, in case you didn’t know, you could also look beyond the standard .com domain endings.
There are a bunch of endings that could be more suited to your line of work such as XXX.tax or XXX.lawyer or XXX.biz.
While those domain endings are a bit harder to remember, you could benefit from having a more suitable name on the “XXX” part.
For example, if you want johnsmith.com and it’s not available…
You could consider johnsmith.biz instead.
Both parties: speed of reply
Let’s change gears and see how both parties can affect delivery timeline.
Keeping a channel of communication active is rather important and keeps projects moving.
I generally try to reply within a day, even if it’s a simple heads-up to notify that I need more time to find out something.
Ultimately, if both parties can try their best to provide what’s needed on each end, a website will be developed quicker.
If a developer needed a client to provide access to their domain so the developer can make the website live, then the faster the client fulfills that requirement, the faster the website can go live.
Similarly, a website developer needs to receive all the content required including copy (e.g. descriptions) and photos. The quicker a client can send the required website files, the faster the website will be produced.
Developer: familiarity with client’s request
Tech is a very wide and broad field.
Every developer will specialize in certain aspects.
There are some that specialize in WordPress, building custom websites with a custom WordPress plugin and ecommerce websites with WooCommerce.
Then there are others that specialize in building an online store with Shopify.
Then there are others who can build an app with custom functionality.
I specialize in building small business websites whether it’s a web app or a brochure site.
Most developers are probably flexible enough to do a lot of things, but you should ask your developer what their favourite “stack” is.
“Stack” is a term used to describe the components that form a website.
I have a preferred stack of NextJS paired with Strapi for web apps. Otherwise, I like using WordPress for simpler sites.
If your website is built within the preferred stack of a web developer, then you’ll get better quality work and faster responses.
Sample timelines for different types of websites
Here are some timelines that I have achieved for three different projects. I’ll explain what’s involved and then talk about how me and my client worked together.
2 weeks: one-page websites; landing page
If you are seeking a one-page website, it’s generally possible to get it done in one to two weeks.
Building this simple teaser page for SIRE, a men’s health startup, took about two weeks.
The founder was very responsive and quick to give feedback which really helped.
Most of the design and coding work on my end was done in one week.
The page integrated a mailing list sign up. This helped the founder gather a database of interested customers so that he could send them teaser coupons.
1 month: small business website
Building a simple website generally won’t take beyond a month.
This comes from my experience building a business website for freelancers, tradesmen and small businesses.
Let me give you an example of what I built for United Contracting, a drywall specialist.
United Contracting came to me asking for a sleek new website that looked modern, classy and clean.
The owner wanted to build a website that allowed him to show potential customers what he’s about.
We settled on a website with five main pages: Home, Services, Projects, About and Contact pages.
He was a busy guy who had to work and care for his kids, so we generally communicated through email.
We did make phone calls every Saturday which allowed him to convey deeper thoughts about the website.
The timelines were about four weeks. One week was dedicated to presenting the design, then another two for coding and another week for content creation to populate his pages.
He also wanted me to help him write copy on his website, so we set up a 30 minute call on a Saturday for an interview.
In order to help United Contracting get off their feet, I gave the owner free web hosting for a period of time and also business cards.
After all, my business’s success is linked to my client’s success.
3 months: app with login, voting functions
I built an app that took a few months because it involved multiple parties, dynamic functionality and a much more complicated hosting process.
The client wanted to host an extreme sport video competition and so they needed to submit edited videos filmed by three athletes.
People will watch those videos and vote for them. After a few weeks of voting, votes will close and whichever athlete gains the most votes will be considered the winner of the People’s choice award.
The clients also wanted this video competition website to look similar to their main business website.
We agreed that we will allocate 30 days for design, another 30 for coding and another 30 for testing.
So, from my end, I had to go over to their website and understand how their design looks, and propose a design for the competition website.
Coding the website took about a month in order to build the voting system and authentication system so voters could log in and out.
Since this was a long term project, I gave my clients weekly updates on Mondays to keep them abreast of what I have developed.
What would speed up the web building process?
Ultimately, what’s in your control is ensuring you reply quickly and have all the materials that the web developer needs.
I have outlined a few points above that will help speed things up including knowing your vision, having the required content and finally having a plan for getting a domain and/or hosting.
That’s in your control.
In the initial phase, it’s important to make your timelines well known. Declaring this keeps both parties on the same track and it ensures that you’re keeping the ball rolling.
OK, the website is up. Now what?
Now that the website is up, you can consider how you’d want to market it.
Some people drive traffic to their websites by running ads on Google, Facebook and other social media marketing means.
Another means of getting traffic is by building your content on your website.
Blogs are an important means of getting Google’s attention and can pay off for much, much longer than ads.
As long as your content continues to rank on Google, you will be able to drive traffic to your website and get leads.
If you remember the men’s health startup that I talked about, one of the things that I did for them in the beginning is to build their SEO content.
The founder was so happy with it that he contacted me to do more — organic traffic drives half their traffic.
Another aspect that you’d want to consider is how you are going to maintain the website.
Do you have any questions about how your website can be run?
Website maintenance will be required once in a while whether it is to update your website’s content or to fix some errors.
For example, one client of mine lost his former developer. As a result, he came to me.
What he wanted to do is to upgrade certain sections of his website, including adding a video on the front of his main page as well as adding testimonials.
Ensuring that you have someone you can rely on when it comes to areas that you aren’t familiar with is quite important for these purposes.