How long does it take to build a website?
Phase I. Choosing a Website Partner
- Need evaluation
- Proposal collection
- Decision & budget approval
- Statement of Work & Contracts
- Kick-off Meeting
This initial phase kicks off the whole website redesign process and each company approaches it differently. The bottom line: the length of time it takes to choose a partner is mostly up to you. The two factors that will speed up are preparedness and availability.
If your new website is a priority, then be willing to be flexible in scheduling meetings with the partners you’re considering. This means try not to wait more than two weeks in between talking with them. Each agency will want to understand your needs so they can deliver a proposal that speaks to your organization. You can speed up that process if you have a tight timeline by being prepared to answer common questions about what you need.
Timeframe* for initial calls: 1 day to 2 weeks from reaching out to a web developer
*Timeframes are based on a range of situations, accounting for available of your team, scheduling conflicts and time to prepare materials.
After the information gathering, you’ll likely receive proposals via email, or have meetings to review proposals with the agency. It will be up to your team to schedule time to talk through what you saw and make a choice on who to partner with.
Timeframe to gather, review and decide on partner: 4 weeks to 3 months
Once you’ve made your decision, it will be time to iron out the fine print, in a statement of work, contract or agreement. Investigate in advance if your company has a process for legal documents. This gives you the chance to alert the right people to be on the lookout for the documents. Legal can hold up this phase for as much as up to two months depending on their workload. It’s common for contracts to go back and forth between attorneys a few times before an agreement is finalized.
Timeframe to sign contracts: 2 weeks to 2 months
As soon as contracts are in place, then it’s time to schedule the first big meeting to get all the players in the room with your new website partner to talk about the website. Getting schedules to align with leadership can be tricky depending on how your company is structured.
Timeframe to Schedule Meeting: 1 week to 1 month
Phase II. Building it
- Design & Approval
- Making it functional
Now comes the fun part - bringing all your ideas to life with a new website design. Every agency will approach these remaining steps slightly differently so we’re basing the rest of our timeline on what you can expect when working with Blue Compass. The biggest milestone in the design phase is approving the homepage. Give this careful consideration and get buy-in up front from anyone who can say “no” later down the line. The homepage drives the rest of the design so it’s important for everyone to b e on the same page. There will probably be some revisions and tweaks so try factor in how specific your team is. Have graphic designers on staff? Add another few weeks as they may want more input.
Timeframe to design and approve homepage: 2 to 6 weeks
The time for the remainder of the designs depends on how many different designs you need. We recommend keeping page variations (layouts) to a minimum because its’ important to create consistency for your website visitors. Here are a few pages that we regularly see having their own design. Look through this list and see how many you think you’d have. For each design estimate adding 3-5 days to your timeline.
- Standard, or simple, interior page to use for pages like contact or about us
- Donation or Payment
- Team Directory
- Company Culture
- Blog or News
Once the designs are all approved, it will be time to bring it to life. We say double the design time as a rule-of-thumb to determine how long it will take to create the code that powers the flat design, also known as ‘front-end’ programming.
Timeframe for front-end programming: double the design time
Now that the page designs are built on the development server, they need to be connected to the CMS so your team can update the content. Some areas of your website will need functionality, and those take the longest. Think of widgets, special applications, or any part of your website that does something other than display words. Here is a general timeframe for our most popular requests:
Media Gallery - 3 days
Donation page - 3 days
Custom long format forms where you’re gathering information that needs to be stored in a database in your admin - 3 days
Location listing system with details pages for each - 1 week
Blog or news system with categories and tagging - 2 weeks
Team Directory with photos and biographies of your employees - 1 week
Events system for people to see a calendar of events, register and pay - 3 weeks
Careers system and applicant tracking for people to apply to open jobs and your HR team to manage where they are in the recruitment and interviewing process - 4 to 5 weeks
Phase III. Dressing it up
- Content writing
- Content population
Now the heavy lifting is done and the site is ready for all your information to be added. That means photos, copywriting, blog articles, team members, events, etc. It can be the most overwhelming part of the website process - and it's also the number one reason a website launch is postponed. Make sure that while the agency designing and building, you're writing and planning for this phase. It might take two to three months to have all your content prepared, then you need to add it all into the website (unless that service is in your contract).
Our team does offer these services for you, both copywriting and content population, but it’s often an avoidable expense that about half of our clients choose to have their marketing team handle.
Timeframe for content population: 2 weeks to 3 months
Phase IV. Testing
- ADA Compliance
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Quality Assurance (QA)
Once you've populated the website, our team will be ready to test it. We will go through our standard QA testing and then any other special testing you’ve requested. From ADA audits for accessibility to SEO audits for marketers, these can elongate the timeline if we find areas we need to update, but normally the whole process can be completed in 2 to 4 weeks.
That’s it! You’re done. There was a lot to cover, but now you have a good idea of how long it will take to launch your new website, given a range of timeframes based on inside knowledge you have about your company.