How Long Should It Take to Build a Website? My Approach at Timelines and Pro Tips to Guide You

After experiencing the Wix editor's ease firsthand, I think we can all agree that its ability to help us effectively create websites effortlessly is one reason we love the platform. That goes without saying that every project is different, and some can take weeks, if not months, to complete due to their complexity. Wouldn't you agree?

Some of my most frequently asked questions revolve around project timelines. How long does it take to build a website? What are some of the reasons behind website launch delays? How can I improve communication with clients when it comes to project timelines and due dates? For starters, creating websites in one day is not something I'd recommend, although I'm sure there are many success stories out there for individuals who do.

When it comes to projects, I prepare my clients for at least one month of standard website development. I take a week to study the client's business in detail, building out the main page and sitemap structure. I then take two to three weeks to visualize it, set up all required features, and review it with the client. Once they give their approval, I finalize the launch date. Sounds simple right? Well, it's not as easy as it sounds. If it were up to me, most of the projects would meet this timeline, but this is not always the case. To be more precise, it is never the case.

What are the main reasons behind this?

Website complexity

It goes without saying that the timeline for a web development project depends entirely on its complexity. Although at times, it's hard to pinpoint which part may be missing. We've all been in awkward situations while working on projects. For example, you're in the middle of web designing and realize that the client wanted an "Amazon-like" website and not just a store. I think we all need to experience this at least once to understand how important it is to speak through all details before giving the final quote.

Wix features can facilitate and accelerate the implementation of quite complex functionality. We don't need to reinvent the wheel thanks to the ready niche solutions (Wix Store, Wix Events, Bookings, Restaurants, etc.). But in some cases, standard solutions are not enough. Full customization is needed, which significantly increases the time to work on a project.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind that for people who don't make websites daily, websites are simply that, websites. In other words, they don't know what is doable with two clicks and what will require weeks of work. It is your responsibility to understand the project's intricacy. This way, you can explain it in detail and quote it accordingly.

There are cases where sites don't have to be as complicated as clients make them out to be. Often, clients will request ready-made solutions to obtain a particular look or user flow. Instead of those ready-made solutions, we must reinvent the wheel, which increases the project's duration and cost.

Pro Tip: When creating a website, always keep in mind that a client may need to manage it, and they want to do this without hassles (that's why they chose Wix after all). When building their site, choose apps and products that provide solutions and are easy to manage. Always explain this to your clients as it'll save you time. 

Content is not ready

In the eight years of my work as a web designer, I can count on both hands the number of projects delivered to me where the website's content was well prepared and structured. I've always wanted to hug those clients. Why? Because it speeds up the site creation process dramatically. But let's face it, this rarely happens, especially when working with small businesses who have a very vague understanding of what content should go on their homepage or what pages they need. It's our job to help guide them; otherwise, we'll be waiting a long time for the content we need.

I always start with an interview where I have them answer questions I send them. These questions help me see the bigger picture. I need to know everything about their products, services, market, industry, competitors, concepts, achievements, clients, testimonials, etc. Why? Because I may have another set of questions based on those answers. I keep asking questions until the picture is clear for me. All their responses will be the drafts for final texts. I later structure the received information for an easier read. That is my way, you may find another approach to gather content, but the idea is the same.

Pro Tip: Don't wait for content from clients; get it out of them. Yes, that's an integral part of website development, and you need to open the conversation. Imagine you are a journalist, and you need to dig for the truth. You will be surprised how often important information sits in the back of someone's mind. 

The team of decision-makers

When working with a business where a corporate system regulates individual decisions or needs to provide their approval, it is next to impossible to speed up a project's timeline. What can be just as bad, if not worse, is a small team that requires everyone's input before being approved. This process is a time consuming and bad practice unless the whole team represents a potential audience of the future website.

Pro Tip: A dedicated person must coordinate the site. Ideally, a marketing specialist, but often it is done directly by the business owner. A situation where everyone gradually requests their adjustments is unacceptable. Please include it in your contract.

Client's level of anxiety

It happens so often that I am ready to write a dissertation on the topic "impact of the level of anxiety on the website building timeline." Some clients choose between pink and pink (this is not a typo) for specific ages. They have a hard time making decisions. They can't decide between two similar fonts; they are not sure about a hero image. It is as if the business’s success depends entirely on choosing the correct shade of green. Yes, they want to make everything perfect, but it is never perfect.

I understand the excitement and importance of colors and fonts, but they need to decide to move forward with the design process. If a font or color is not to their liking, I'm open to reviews, allowing changes down the line. To simply put it, never prolong a project based on simple aesthetics.

I genuinely believe that clients need to make one crucial decision, choosing the right designer. Everything else related to the project should be left to the designer they hire.

Pro Tip: Explain every design decision you make to your client as it builds trust. You can also share this article with them for further clarification. 

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