That's the million dollar question that all of my clients ask me. And the reality is that there's no standard answer. It's like asking someone how long is a piece of string? The reality is that it depends on many factors. Such as the type of industry you are in.
The industry will to a large extent influence the type of website that a client will require. For example you can't really build a static website with only five pages for a Real Estate company, but a three page site could be suitable for a small bookeeping service.
Standard Rule: The more complex the site the longer it will take.
Then we have to take into account things like "content", photos, videos, animations. Has the client got all of that already in place and already in web quality? Is the content relevant to the client's business? Are the photos suitable for the business? If content is not ready, it will take time to write all the content. Next, will the client be writing himself or will a copyrighter be doing that? If photos are not available, time will have to be spent procuring the right photos, preparing them for the site and uploading them. The more content and the higher the number of photos the longer it will take.
As the site grows, often the client wants some new features added to original scope of work. This could change the entire timeline and delivery of the site.
We at EG WebDev can prepare a concept brief, do the design, sort out structure and navigation, add content and images, and incorporate back-end functionality for an average 20-30 page site in approximately four weeks. But the truth is that rarely happens. Why? Because there are many timing factors that can and does delay the progress.
These include things like:
Delays in receiving the content / photos from the client. Sometimes the client does not know what content they want. They came to you and say ... I want something like that "other site" but they forget that something like that needs the appropriate content. Or they say, just copy the content from my old site, there's lot of it – we have found that often that type of content is already outdated, and no longer valid, which means the client has to come up with new content.
Your client gets sick, takes a vacation or even just a couple of days off. Or their own work takes priority ... all of these factors are common occurrences.
There are also those scope changes (not to mention the scope creeps if one is not careful). As the project develops, the client suddenly sees new potential, identifies new opportunities, or changes the target audiences of the site. This usually involves redesign and you are back to square one and the beginning.
There is no doubt that pre-planning and careful specification of a website will greatly reduce to likelihood of delays, but it will not eliminate them. In addition a clearly delineated process for content creation, client site review, and approvals will also assist in keeping the project on track.
Brochure websites: 5 to 8 pages, all content supplied by client 3 to 6 weeks without a CMS
Design: 1-2 weeks
Coding: 2-4 weeks and an additional 2 weeks if Content Management System is needed
E-commerce / Sites with 10 - 20 pages: 20 to 22 weeks
Planning: 3-4 weeks
Design: 2-4 weeks
Front-end and Back-end Development: 8-12 weeks
Quality Assurance/Testing: 1-2 weeks
Note: This article was first published in empowerment-gateway.com on 28 October 2014, updated 5 August 2017.
Author: Joe Stokes