Your job is to keep the marketing of your business rolling fast and strong. You’re ready to see something up yesterday, and what you really need to know is “how long will it take to build my website?”
Short answer: It depends.
Is your website a pinewood derby car, or a kit built Shelby Cobra? Do you need something that just rolls, or the Ultimate Driving Machine? The answer to that question will determine the answer to the first question.
The path of least resistance: Hosted theme sites
There are plenty of services these days that can “get you online”. Squarespace has a unique platform with new and beautiful templates to choose from. On wordpress.com you can set up a blog for free and choose from a nearly limitless variety of themes, both free and premium, to style it and get up and running in days, if not hours. You could use Tumblr, Facebook, or any of a plethora of other services to get going, if all you need is to have the most basic presence online.
Custom, built from scratch
On the other end of the scale is a custom site or web application built by professional developers. Depending on what kind of functionality you require of the site and the size of the project, it’s likely to take several weeks or a few months of strategy, design and development time to take your site from whiteboard wireframes to a launchable product.
Striking the balance
So how do you know which path to pursue? At Skyhook, we build a lot of “brochure” websites: a business wants to have a presence online, develop opportunities to educate their customers about their offerings, and get found by potential clients. We build these sites on Content Management Systems (usually WordPress) and modify it to make it really friendly to the site owner. These projects range usually between two and ten weeks for the initial build, and then continue optimizing for users and SEO. That first step can seem like a long time when you first hear it, but we end up talking to our customers in active projects every two or three days (and sometimes much more frequently), so the time really does fly.
How can I speed up the process?
We’ve built a lot of these things, and we can say with certainty that there are two main ways that the process of building a website can be made much less painful for everyone involved.
- Improve communication. Nearly everyone has had an experience with bad communication, so we all know how frustrating it can be. Frequently, business owners and web designers seem to have a hard time contacting each other. Either the designer isn’t answering the client’s many phone calls, or the client won’t take the time to provide enough feedback, etc… Either way, talking openly about the project and setting good, upfront expectations and a communication plan make a world of difference once the project gets into gear.
- Prepare. Nothing will replace good planning. If you’re providing images for your designer to use, pull them together as soon as you start thinking about the content for the site, not on the day you hope to launch. If you’re writing the copy, get it over before they begin development. Do you have hosting or domain credentials your web team will need to launch the site? Access to analytics you want them to use? What’s the email address of the person the contact form should go to? Your developer should be able to give you a list of what they need, so you can have it ready and keep the process moving.
So how long does it take to build a website? With some good planning, open communication, and the right development team, you can be up and running before you know it with a great site that converts visitors into customers.