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How Long Does It Take To Build A Website?

By James LePage
 on June 19, 2022

How Long Does It Take To Build A Website?

By James LePage
 on June 19, 2022

This article will discuss how long it takes to build a website. As a WordPress developer with over 6 years of experience, and founder of a web design agency that's completed dozens of major projects, I've experienced all types of projects and scopes.

We'll attempt to cover as many general scenarios to help you understand how long a potential website project may take to go from inception to launch.

If you're considering a new project, this will help you understand the major phases and general timeline

First (if you're in a rush), here's the short answer to how long it takes to build a new website: at least two months. However this answer varies wildly depending on the scope of work, type of project, budget, and services included.

The remainder of this article will seek to help you figure out a timeline for your specific upcoming project.

It's essential to understand a website development timeframe before the project gets started so you can budget effort, involvement, and any events dependent on your new site. It's important to be realistic, and have a holistic understanding of what exactly goes into a website development project.

The Types Of Web Design Projects

Site Architecture-Design-Build

This is the most complex type of project.

It involves consultation on the pages, features and stack of your website. From that, the site is then designed from the ground up. Finally, it's developed based on those mockups and site architecture.

Redesign-Build

This is the most common type of project.

Typically you take an existing website and content, redesign it based on new branding or modern design trends, redevelop it, migrate content, and launch the site.

Build

This is the quickest development project.

You, the client, comes to the developer with designs. All they need to do is build.

Feature-Additions

Additions of new features to an existing site.

Ongoing Services

Ongoing additions and maintenance to existing websites.

Other

Sometimes, you'll end up lumping branding, design systems and other related services into a website design / development project. Of course, this will take longer than a standard project. Our agency works alongside other branding agencies (instead of doing this in house). If you're completely rebranding, we suggest adding an additional 10 weeks minimum to your website project timeline.

Budget also matters. As an agency, we've seen that larger projects with higher budgets and a dedicated point person with the ability to make decisions on the companies behalf are typically the most efficient ones.

Be realistic - will you want to make change after change? Will you leave the management and direction of the project to the developer/agency? Will a committee need to approve changes, or will there be a dedicated point person?

Website Development Phases

Your standard phases for a web design / development project, with respective timeframes, are as follows. Keep in mind, other developers and agencies may refer to these phases with different nomenclature, but the general work involved with each remains relatively standardized.

Discovery

A 2 week defined process of understanding the requirements of a project and figuring out how to implement/build/design them.

Website Architecture

Identify and design; user flow, site mapping, pages, backend architecture, tech stack and more. This is more of a collaborative consultation in most situations. Typically takes a week.

Website Design

Design of systems, pages, and templates. Typically done with static mockup platforms like Figma. Include at least 2 weeks for this phase. Increase this time for more complex sites with more pages or template requirements.

Increase this if you don't have a documented brand or design system.

Typically, the majority of time here will be spent on revisions.

Website Development

Development of the new website and features based on the static mockups. This is heads-down work until the dev nears the end... then everything comes together quickly. The timeline here varies wildly depending on the features and actual workload. Budget at least a month here.

Revisions

Revisions to functionality and design. Bug fixes. Typically 1-2 weeks.

Migration and Go-Live

Content is migrated to the new website. The old site is taken down and replaced with the new site.

A WordPress to WordPress migration can take just a few hours, whereas a migration from a custom or old CRM to WordPress can take days (exporting data, reformatting, and uploading).

Budget a week here, though it's typically done in a day.

How Long It Takes To Build A Website

  • A Basic Corporate Site will take around 2 months from start to finish. This includes web design and development.
  • A Large/Custom Corporate Website takes about 4 months to complete, due to the additional development workload, alongside time needed for content migration.
  • Basic Ecommerce typically takes 3 months from start to finish, including design. There are more standard pages such as checkout and cart. This is assuming there aren't any custom or complex features like subscriptions.
  • For a Large/Custom Ecommerce project, budget 6 months. Typically these take less than 6 months, but a good dev will find ways to increase your ROI, Customer Experience and more, that you'll typically want to include in the final product. Migrations (Shopify to WooCommerce) nowadays are pretty quick. Unless you're using a custom ecommerce setup, there are automated solutions to migrate content quickly.
  • Large Content Website. Large content sites typically take 4 months. Typically the actual dev work is minimal as templates are reused across content types. The majority of time will be spent on migration and a seamless launch with no downtime.
  • A Custom Digital Experience can take anywhere from 2 months to 8 months, depending on complexity.

Real World Web Design Project Timelines

We've built dozens of major projects (each using WordPress). Here's how long some of our projects actually took to build:

  • Redesign and development of major digital magazine with content migration from 2000s era CMS: 4 months
  • Large ecommerce website with custom subscription solution (migration from Shopify to WooCommerce): 6 months
  • Architecture, web design and development for startup (standard pages): 3 months
  • Standard website redesign for existing corporate website: 14 weeks

You can use these as basic milestones, but as I've been saying for the entirety of this article... how long it takes to build a website depends on your specific project requirements.

Potential Roadblocks

You should always expect roadblocks to occur on web design projects. Prepare for the worst, even with the best agencies.

As a rule of thumb, add at least two weeks of billable hours to whatever estimate an agency or freelancer gives you. Of course, if they're a reputable developer, they'll probably remain right on schedule... but sometimes things just don't go to plan.

For example, you may end up spending extra time on the website design and revisions. For us, this is typically where the most back-and-forth happens with clients... trying to get that page design just right.

Sometimes, it becomes clear that an expected solution just won't do the trick.

Sometimes, a key developer gets sick or needs to take unexpected time off (this just pushes things back, and doesn't add hours).

If you can't afford this potential addition to the timeline, consider revising your scope, or simply cross your fingers and hope for the best.

For example, when we were building that major D2C ecommerce website, we told our clients that the subscription solution that they wanted to use would work well for the next two years, but likely become a limiting factor in the future, due to their expected growth. After breaking ground, they decided to go with a more custom solution which increased the scope and timeframe of the project. These type of changes are common occurrences when working with experienced agencies and developers - as we become more acquainted with your specific requirements and business operations, we'll typically offer suggestions based on our experiences.

If you're planning on a major launch event or need the site live before a specific date, always factor these two (or more) "buffer" weeks into your project start date.

Tips To Make A Web Design Project Faster and More Efficient

There are a few ways that you can make a website project finisher quicker and be more efficient with your money and hours.

Have A Point Person

This person should have decision making power for most things. Try to minimize elevations or committee decisions. Sometimes these are needed, but in most situations they just add unnecessary work and time.

Block Out Dedicated Time For This Project

Block out time on your calendar that you'll use to give feedback, meet with developers, and otherwise devote time to the project.

Our agency implemented daily 15min sprints done via Zoom. These help when it comes to communication and decisions.

Have Prepared Content

If you have copy and content, send it to the agency/developer in an organized matter. Be proactive.

Communicate Effectively

Communicate thoughts, feelings, ideas and revisions effectively. Use something like Slack.

Conclusion

We hope that this article helped you understand how long a web design project typically takes. Keep in mind, the timeline really depends on the requirements of your individual project. Use the info in this article to help determine the specific requirements and timeline of your website.

Regardless, always budget two months with an "emergency buffer" of at least two weeks.

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Article By
James LePage
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James LePage is the founder of Isotropic, a WordPress education company and digital agency. He is also the founder of CodeWP.ai, a venture backed startup bringing AI to WordPress creators.
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