This is usually one of the first questions that potential clients ask us (along with how much is it going to cost) and I always give them the same answer “It depends”.
There’s a few factors that will hold up a website project, but before we go into that, let’s answer this question as best we can and then go into the circumstances that will hold up a web design project.
Our average website build time is approx 4-6 weeks
Now in saying this, we’ve had websites built in 4 days (yes that’s right 4 days – it wasn’t a 400 page, award winning design with loads of functionality but it got our client out of a pickle) and we’ve had websites that 8 months down the track we’re still waiting on clients to send us information and content.
That’s why we say our average turnaround time is approx 4-6 weeks. We can build websites quicker than this and sometimes it takes us longer, but ultimately we work at our client's pace. If a client has all their ducks in a row and we get everything we need in a timely fashion, a web design is always going to be done quicker than if we’re hassling clients for images and content and not getting a response.
The biggest impact on a website design project timeline is you
The number one thing we wait on as a web design company is website content. Clients inevitably spend a lot of time thinking about or focusing on the design of their website to the detriment of their website copy.
Quite often we power through the design process then spend the next few weeks waiting for clients to either send us the website copy or for them to add it to their website after our training session.
Factors that blow out website design timeframes
This is by no means a complete list of things that make websites take longer to build than the average, but they’re some of the most common we’ve see over the past 15 years of building websites.
Waiting on content
This is the number one factor that blows out website timeframes. We like to work quickly and we often get the site designs back to clients very quickly, then spend the next couple of weeks/months waiting for clients to send us the content for their websites. If possible, think about the content and get it organised before you engage a web design company.
Clients sometimes like to really get into the website design process and start looking around at other websites, getting ideas and wanting to add lots of cool features and functionality to the website during the website build (usually outside the original scope and quoted price).
Whilst this is admirable, it’s worth stressing that all this should be done before you ask for a quote as changing tack during the website build will not only blow out your timeframe but can end up costing you a lot more than if functionality was sorted at the quoting stage.
I don’t know what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it
This phrase strikes fear into the hearts of web designers and will inevitably cause the project to blow out and possibly cost more. Many web design companies won’t work with clients who say these types of things or will add a lot of extra $$$ to the quote to allow for the inevitable back and forth with the client throughout the design process whilst they make up their mind about what it is they want.
Again we stress that the design and type of website you want should be considered and decided on before you even begin talking to a web developer.
Photos or images
Sometimes clients decide halfway through a website build that getting a photographer in to photograph their staff or building is a great idea. We agree – yes this is a great idea but again, do this before you start a website build if possible.
Design by committee
This is another big mistake we see clients make. It’s made with good intentions but invariably leads to hold ups on the website. Here’s the scenario.
- Client engages web design company to build website.
- Client goes through a design brief with said web design company.
- Web design company builds a site based on the client's brief.
- Client loves the design, but to be sure sends it to 5-10 friends, staff or managers for feedback.
- Feedback varies from person to person, contradicts each other and causes analysis paralysis.
This is where the process breaks down. Design – like your choice in clothing or your favourite restaurant is entirely personal and we’ve found when clients do this, they get contradictory feedback from multiple people and design changes are then nearly impossible to implement to please everyone and the project very quickly grinds to a halt.
Our advice is to have 1-2 people in your organisation that are the website heros and take charge of the project to ensure the process is smooth and professional. Also, take on board the web designer’s expertise and experience. Just because you personally don’t like blue or yellow isn’t a reason not to use it if your web designer is suggesting it.
Don’t build the website for you – build the website for your customers. What you personally like or want is irrelevant as it’s your customers that will be using your website.
Waiting for approvals
This is another factor that blows out timeframes for website builds. If a web design agency sends you something to approve, the quicker it’s either approved or sent back with changes, the quicker the company can get onto making those changes or start on the next element of the project.
As you can see the answer to the question ‘How long does a website take to build?’ is a little like ‘how long is a piece of string?’ but hopefully the pointers above should give you an indication of rough timeframes for a website build.
Remember the more organised and efficient you are, the quicker we can do our job and get your website up and running!