How long does it take to design and develop a website?

How long does it take to design and develop a website?

There are two questions I get asked daily. One, ‘How much does a website cost?’ and two, ‘How long does it take to design and develop a website?’

The answer to the first question regarding website cost was covered in our previous article, ‘How much is a website?‘. This article provides insight into the website development cycle, explaining the factors considered when coming up with both a web development time estimate and a web design time estimate.

  1. Discovering your branding Creating a logo, colour scheme and tone of voice
  2. Website planning and onboardingSitemap, wireframes, and detailed technical aspects
  3. More pages mean more time and higher costs – For both design and development
  4. Website design and development review stagesAllowing up to two periods of review for each stage
  5. Website integrations Analytics, CRM, Payment systems etc.
  6. Content writing and inputting content – All text, images, and metadata
  7. Existing content migration – Extracting old website content, blogs, and product data.

Website development cycle

When a new customer first makes contact, we will take down details on the intended project and arrange an onboarding meeting to discuss the full scope of the project in greater detail because many variables need consideration to provide an accurate timeframe. An initial telephone enquiry often will give a partial brief on the project, which proves challenging to provide a precise timeframe.

Our onboarding meeting covers the following in greater detail, all of which impact the amount of time it takes, and all points are considered when we determine an answer to how long it takes to design and develop a website.

Discovering Your Branding

Branding is creating a unique name, design, and identity to showcase your business and make it easily recognisable, building trust and credibility with your customers. Creating a solid brand can help your business stand out in the marketplace, which is why entrepreneurs, new businesses, and start-ups need to differentiate themselves and compete against already established companies in your marketplace.

There are several reasons why your business might need a unique brand:

  1. To communicate the value of your business: A brand helps convey the value and benefits of your products or services to your target audience.
  2. To differentiate your business: A strong brand can help you stand out in the marketplace and differentiate your business from your competitors.
  3. To build trust and credibility: A well-established brand can help build trust and credibility with your customers, leading to increased loyalty and repeat business.
  4. To drive sales: A strong brand can help drive sales by making it easier for customers to recognise and remember your business and inspiring confidence and trust in your products or services.
  5. To create a cohesive marketing strategy: A consistent brand identity can help create a coherent marketing strategy and make it easier to communicate the value of your business to your target audience.

Your website is your most important but often overlooked marketing tool available. Your website is the best place to promote your brand’s voice, which makes your branding the keystone of any website design. From the colour scheme in use to the way your content is delivered, consistency with every piece of marketing material, both online and offline – from printed materials such as flyers, banners, business cards, and vehicle graphics to social media profiles and online adverts – and which all lead back to your website.

Before considering the look and feel of your new website, we need to ensure you have a great brand in place so that we can follow this message throughout, so we will ask for any branding materials or documents you may already have.

Depending on your brand requirements, we allow 3-4 weeks to create a new brand identity.

Website Planning and onboarding

Before planning, we first need to know the full scope of the project to prevent delays further down the line, which may impact the entire build.

Our website planning meeting uncovers the entire site plan, identifying the pages for us to design. The planning stage also reveals the functionality required both for the end user and you, the administrator. Integrations with other software like your CRM, analytics and external SEO systems, and payment systems must work seamlessly with the business function. All key stakeholders must be identified and present during the planning stages, particularly if you have a large business with different departments such as sales, marketing, advertising, etc.

Depending on your required complexity, this stage can take from 1 day to 3 weeks.

The complete requirements can be clearly defined by being thorough during the planning stage, reducing the time spent on each subsequent set.

More pages mean more time and higher costs.

As explained in the previous article, the number of additional pages directly affects the cost of the website. The more pages we need to design and develop, the higher the costs.

The same applies to determining the overall project time factor, as creating a four-page website takes much less time to design and develop a twenty-page website.

We will always advise our clients to keep the number of pages to a minimum, helping to reduce their costs and helping us to maintain tight deadlines.

The next part of the planning stage is to develop a wireframe of the project, which shows the number of pages, functionality and how the pages interlink with each other and to other integrations.

We issue a sign-off agreement, which locks the design wireframe before moving into the actual design and development. The client can make further changes after this stage, but costs and project lead times may need to be revisited depending on the level of changes and the impact which the changes have on the project.

Website design and development review stages

Before handing the project over to the client to review at the design and development review stage, we run an internal review with several key factors considered for the building of the website:

  1. User experience (UX): The UX of a website is the overall experience a user has when interacting with the site. It’s important to consider things like the navigation, layout, and overall usability of the site to ensure that it is easy for users to find what they are looking for and accomplish their goals.
  2. Content: A website’s content is critical to its success. It’s crucial to ensure that the content is high quality, relevant, engaging and organised in a way that is easy for users to understand and navigate.
  3. Visual design: The visual design of a website should be cohesive and consistent, and it should reflect the brand and personality of the business. It’s important to consider things like the colour scheme, typography, imagery, and overall layout of the site to ensure that it is visually appealing and effective in achieving the business’s goals.
  4. Mobile friendliness: With the increasing use of smartphones and tablets to access the internet, ensuring that a website is optimised for mobile devices is essential. Optimising includes guaranteeing the site is responsive, meaning it adjusts to fit the screen size of different devices and is easy to navigate on smaller screens.
  5. Search engine optimisation (SEO): SEO optimises a website to rank higher in search engine results for relevant keywords. It’s essential to consider SEO during the design and development stages to ensure that the site is search-engine friendly and has a good chance of ranking well in search results.
  6. Accessibility: It’s important to consider accessibility during the design and development stages to ensure that the website is usable by people with disabilities, provides alternative text for images, uses descriptive headings and link text, and ensures that the site is compatible with screen reader software.

Considering these factors during the design and development review stages ensures that your website is effective, user-friendly, and successful in achieving your business goals.

At each design project review stage, we recognise that the client requires time to review each page’s design in detail and request changes. Usually, we offer up to two rounds of revisions; these are accommodated within the project cycle timeline and completed on a live functioning site.

We ask that the client reviews the front and back end of the website, testing the integrations to ensure you are happy with how the site looks and functions.

Smaller companies may take only 1-2 days to complete the review stage. However, more extensive and commercial businesses may require 1-2 weeks to get all invested parties to buy in and agree to the design and functionality.

We advise ensuring that all stakeholders are involved from the initial brief and through each stage until the launch, preventing any unwanted surprises and unnecessary changes from being made, incurring additional delays and costs to the project.

Website Integrations

During the planning stage, we will identify any functionality that requires integration into the website and estimate the time needed to perform the integrations and testing to ensure it works as desired.

The testing stage will require participation from the client to ensure that data is monitored, managed, and received correctly into the CRM or other administrative tools.

Suppose the client uses a different integration system anytime during the project. In that case, the project management plan must reflect this should additional time be required during development.

Simple integrations, such as email capture from a subscriber list, may take less than a day; however, more complex integrations, such as with a third-party wholesaler’s catalogue being integrated into an eCommerce website, may need several days to test thoroughly.

Content writing and inputting content

Another task which determines the length of the project time frame is the content stage.

It is a common misconception that a web design and development agency will create and input all your website content.

Unless specifically requested and quoted, we will not generate content. Still, we will guide and advise you and even assist in proofreading when it comes to the content within the Home Page, About and Contacts pages. But the client must complete other pages, such as specific terms and conditions, returns policy and product listings, simply because ‘time is money’.

We will quote you separately from the project if you require the content imputing on these pages, as costs can increase rapidly. For example, suppose it takes 15 minutes to populate a product page with content (text, images, and metadata), and your website has 1000 products listed. In that case, we will be looking at quoting for an additional 250 hours of work, which will significantly impact the overall project cycle timeline.

Existing Content Migration

Every good website agency will help their client as much as possible to populate their website.

At Twisted Spire, we help our clients by giving our clients early access to the CMS and providing 1-2-1 training and valuable resources for the platform as part of the overall project.

We also offer free migration from an existing site to a new location, all the content, product information and existing blog posts, provided your current website administrator allows us access to their systems.

Depending on the size of the migration, this can take from 24-72hrs.

Website Design and Development Timeline

Hopefully, this article has given you a better insight into the various stages and timelines that a web agency like Twisted Spire would use within its client’s project cycle timeline from start to finish to determine how long it takes to design and develop a website.

In summary, these stages are;

  1. Discovering Your Branding – Creating a logo, colour scheme and tone of voice.
  2. Website Planning and onboarding – sitemap, wireframes, and detailed technical aspects
  3. More pages mean more time and higher costs – For both design and development
  4. Website design and development review stages – allowing up to two periods of review for each stage
  5. Website Integrations – Analytics, CRM, Payment systems etc.
  6. Content writing and inputting content – All text, images, and metadata
  7. Existing Content Migration – Extracting old website content, blogs, and product data.

The time to design and develop a website from start to launch varies from site to site, depending wholly on the project’s scope. Small websites can often be planned, designed, built, and tested within 4-6 weeks, whereas more complex sites with large amounts of functionality and integrations can take three months or more.

Twisted Spire will always try to deliver accurate estimates of time and costs with frequent updates to the client on progress.

So, to answer the original question, ‘How long does it take to design and develop a website?’ depends on the project brief’s size and scope.

During the initial project brief, your web designer will want to discuss the project scope in fine detail to gain a full and clear picture of the work required; this is a good sign that you are working with a professional who takes the costs and timelines seriously.

We deliver two to three briefs weekly at Twisted Spire, each unique from business to business.

If you have a website project in mind and would like us to quote, please complete our contact form below, and we’ll get back to you with a date to kickstart your project brief.