Every small business web design company is different, so when business owners ask web designers, “how long does it take to build a small business website?”, they’ll get some wildly varying responses. There are many stages and tasks involved in web design, and the way these processes are scheduled and handled can be quite different between web designers.
For us, a standard “informational” website — one which is primarily just providing information and doesn’t have any additional features — is turned around within a few weeks at most. This of course varies depending on our schedule at the time, how quickly our clients get back to us, and so on. Anything more complex generally adds to the timeline, and some projects can therefore take several months.
So while there’s no definitive answer to the question, we can give you a little insight onto what goes into a typical small business website here at GO Creative.
We usually prefer to meet face to face, to go through everything with the client before finalising a quote. It’s amazing how much more we can learn from a 30 minute chat than if we do everything purely online. Sometimes we’ll find out little details which affect the budget or the way we approach the project. Sometimes we find out things about the client’s business which doesn’t gel with ours, or we may even suggest they tackle some other business matters before going ahead with the project. Honesty is critical to ensure both parties are going to have a positive outcome.
Project kick off
Once a business has agreed to move forward, we’ll send them a project kick-off email which includes everything they need to know about the process, payment milestones, and support. We also provide links to an online questionnaire so that the client can simply click the link, answer some questions about their business and project, and submit. We then keep this information to use as a checklist when we’re putting the website together.
We’re now ready to start on the website. We’re a little different here to many designers, in that, for most projects, we don’t prepare any mock-ups or wireframes up front. For larger and more complex projects, this is an important step. But for smaller websites, we’ve found over the years that spending time designing and revising image samples with clients in advance only wastes everyone’s time. With the speed at which we can change a website’s design on the fly, we simply design and develop the entire website, and add the client’s content, all in one hit.
Once we’ve completed the entire website, we send it to the client for review. They can leave their feedback directly on the website itself, so we can track each individual change request, and let the client know once it’s resolved. When all changes are completed, the client approves the master design and we can move on to the next stage.
Depending on the selected website package, we may provide face to face training at this point of the process. This allows the client to make any final adjustments to the website directly. This has two benefits: 1) They get a chance to learn the website software before the site is published; and 2) it’s faster for the client to tweak a few words here and there rather than have to write lengthy emails or phone to go through those tiny adjustments.
Now it’s over to the client to provide their final approval on the whole website. Once approved, we advise on the date we will publish the site, then run through a number of steps. This can include moving the website files and database to its “live” location, setting up Google accounts for statistics and monitoring, internal clean up tasks, and so on. We may also be engaged to provide search engine optimisation services as a separate project, in which case there are some additional steps we need to take throughout the website development process.
As you can imagine, with so many stages and tasks, there’s a lot of room for timeframes to vary with the project. We also rely on the client to provide feedback, choose a training date, make their adjustments, and provide approvals.
Even with multiple follow-ups to keep things on track, business owners are busy and these are areas where the project timeline can really blow out. So it’s important that a website build isn’t seen as something that can be passed to the web designer to handle the whole thing. The business owner will need to prioritise the project to ensure it’s completed quickly.
So, how long does it take to build a small business website? Anything from a couple of weeks… through to several months, depending on the project.