Tom Hapgood once said that a year is a normal length of time for getting a website from idea to launch. The fastest one we’ve done in the past year took two weeks — but that was from the client’s contact with me to launch, so it could be that the client was thinking about it for eleven months first.
What factors affect the speed of your site’s preparation?
- Your initial planning and decision-making. I know people who’ve been planning a website for more than a year, and still haven’t hired anyone or taken any steps. Sometimes people meet with me and then wait a few months before taking further action. This is fine. Just don’t count from when you first had the idea and become impatient too soon.
- Your funding. Sometimes a site is conceptually ready, but the funds aren’t quite in place. One site I’m working on right now had to go through some committees before funds could be released, and others in the past have languished while we waited for an initial payment. Here again, it’s not a problem, but you can’t start counting till the contract is signed and the deposit is paid.
- Your content. I can write a typical five page website in five hours. My part of a website normally is just a matter of getting on the calendar, and then the next day you have your site written. But there can be other factors. For example, if I send a draft and several weeks pass before I get the requests for changes, I will have moved on to other projects, and it may be a day or two before I get those changes made. Also, a project sometimes has to go through several people for feedback or approval. The travels of the content through channels can add significantly to the time involved. Sometimes, too, your web professionals may have to wait for you to send a picture, or some particular information. Here again, a site that’s waiting for staff bios or pricing decisions can get moved off the front burner and have to wait its turn when you get the info sent in. And of course a much larger website will take longer. I’ve known large sites to take up to 25 hours.
- The design. Different designers work at different speeds. Jay Jaro, our go-to guy for logos and graphics, usually has overnight turnaround. I also work with people who have to think for several days before even touching the keyboard. This doesn’t reflect quality or dedication, just personal work style. It’s something to ask about when you make your plans. The designer’s work load apart from your project, your speed in responding to iterations, and the number of people involved in the project affect the speed, too. Sometimes you can get a slide puzzle situation in which the writer is waiting on the web designer for word counts, the web designer is waiting on the logo designer for colors and concept, the logo designer is waiting on the client for a response, and the client is waiting on the writer for an overall theme. Communication is key in cases like these, so that everyone knows who is waiting for whom.
- The engineering. Coding is the most time-consuming part of the job, aside from thinking. We can give a basic estimate of 20 hours for the building of a basic website, just as we give a five hour estimate for the writing of a website. It can vary. Some sites need more engineering than others. And once again, the more people get involved, the more traveling the files have to do, the more changes are made — in each case, the more delays will be involved.
- The launch. If you go with a web firm, so that design and hosting take place together, then launch is just a matter of pushing the button. If you are moving your site, or having a design done and then placing it with a hosting service, there can be further delays.
I hope this helps with your planning. If you’re in a hurry, here’s what you can do to speed things up:
- Make up your mind quickly. I’ve seen projects wait for anywhere from a few hours to a few months for clients to approve a draft or a design. Often, there are a lot of people to check with or you want to live with the design for a while before committing to it, and your web professionals understand that. Certainly, it is always better to be sure than to pay for changes later. But decisiveness is the #1 way a client can speed up the process.
- Communicate clearly. Asking for a particular launch date doesn’t guarantee completion by your target date, but it greatly improves the chances. Your web people can clear their calendars, or at least let you know whether your target date is realistic. And making your wants and needs clear from the beginning increases the chances of your getting what you want the first time around.
- Dovetail the work. With a clear idea ahead of time and clear communication, you can have everyone working at once, rather than doing all the steps one after another. Having a project manager, working with an established team, and working with people you already know are strategies to make this suggestion more do-able.