How Long Does it Really Take to Design a Website?

When you start out on a website project, the whole cost question looms large. And, of course, it’s not just a matter of the financial cost. There’s the whole time and personal effort aspect too. Because even if you have a fabulous website designer who charges entirely reasonable rates, your website won’t get built unless you can brief your designer properly.

* The value of preparation

When people ask me how long it takes to design a website, they usually want to know how long it takes a website designer to do the design and build work. When in fact the most important thing you should be asking yourself is: how much time will it take me to prepare a clear project description and write my copy?

Any website designer will tell you that your website can be designed and built a whole lot faster if you come prepared – with your copy written and a clear explanation of what you want. In my past experience as a designer, virtually every single hold-up occurred because copy hadn’t been written. And the hold-ups could go on for weeks as the whole agonising-over-what-to-write process ran its course.

* The template design

The main work for a website designer comes upfront with the template design. That’s when they produce design ideas for the look and shape of your whole website. This part of the process can become costly in time, money and patience reserves if you haven’t really thought through what you want in advance. But if you can offer examples of your preferred style and page layout, this will speed things up tremendously. As will your willingness to provide immediate feedback on the latest template version.

A template design that runs smoothly is perfectly achievable in a day or two. But only when all your preparation has been done in advance and communication lines are constantly open between you and your designer. This also assumes that your designer is focusing on your website and your website only. In my experience, template designs tend to take something more like a week to 10 days.

* The roll-out

Once the template design is in place, it’s a question of rolling out all the pages of your website. This is the point at which your copy needs to be done and dusted. Depending on the level of simplicity or intricacy of your template design, and the number of pages that need to be rolled out, this will generally take between a couple of days and a couple of weeks to complete.

So what is the answer to the question: how long does it really take to design a website? Of course the answer has to be: it depends! But if you are well prepared and your planned website consists of only a few pages, it is entirely achievable to design and build a website within a couple of weeks.


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