You probably saw this one coming, but the answer is "it depends". I'll satisfy your immediate urge in figuring out how long it takes to build a website by giving you a very rough estimate of how long it takes to build a new website.
It takes about 3-12 weeks to build a website.
Have I built a website in a few hours? Yes (landing pages... check out Strikingly).
Have I built a website in a day? Yes (a one page website).
Have I built a website in a year? Yes (100's of pages with custom functionality).
The time it takes to build a website boils down to the following significant factors:
- Project's scope - Is it a simple website and just a few pages? Or is there advanced functionality and many pages?
- Website builder - The website platform will have a significant impact on build time.
- Experience of the web designer - More experience = higher efficiency.
- How custom the website is - Are you okay with starting with a pre-made template? Or do you want a custom website from scratch.
- You! (If you're not the one building it) - Believe it or not, clients often delay projects because they don't provide the necessary items on time.
I'm going to give you more context so you can determine a more accurate estimate in how long does it take to build a website for YOUR future website project.
Asking how big the website project is, is a bit relative if you haven't been in the industry. So let's talk about some hard metrics that will determine the length of the website project.
Page count is a significant factor in determining the time it'll take to build a website. There's no industry standard but here is how I'd roughly categorize the different sizes and the very rough estimates for how long it'll take to build that website:
- Small website = 1-5 pages (a few days to a couple months)
- Medium website = 6-15 pages (a few weeks to a few months)
- Large website = 16-50 pages (a few months to 6+ months)
- XL website = 51+ pages (6+ months)
It's not uncommon for a website to have 100's of pages. But the key here is if the pages belong to a content management system - essentially where only one page needs to be designed. Think of a blog - one design, and many blogs - making it very easy to grow your page count without increasing development time.
Also consider how unique the pages are from one another. Do they follow the same design? Or does each page require a custom design process.
Let's talk about how much research the web developer or web development team needs to do.
Level of Research
There are five-ish foundations of a website:
- Web design
- Web development
- Copywriting/content creation
- Graphic design
It's usually the case that the web design, web development, and graphic design are a part of the project. Sure not all projects need custom graphic design or a developer, but the client sure as heck doesn't provide that stuff!
The average time for the design phase is one week. Small projects take one day and large ones take a couple weeks.
Some people skip it and jump right into building the website for your business. But most designers prefer to work outside of the site first to ensure:
- They design a user friendly interface
- They make any changes prior to the jumping into front end development
In some cases, the content creation is provided by the company (maybe through their existing website). But just because it exists doesn't mean it thrives. So you need to ask yourself if you want the web development team to perform content creation. Your content structure makes a big impact on the effectiveness of your new site.
If not done properly, you are left with incomplete content that doesn't do well for your small business.
SEO should tie into copywriting but it also means tasks that exist outside of copywriting (such as adding alt text to images). It's an important part of the project, but if you're not building your website to gain traffic from search engines, then you may not need this (most websites do need search engine optimization though).
Functionality is a key factor for two reasons:
- To figure out if you can use a website builder that'll build websites in record time
- To determine how long it'll take to build a website
In the discovery phase of a project, I always seek to understand what functionality is required or foreseen in the future.
Think, do you have custom systems you need to integrated with (MLS, CRM, forms, etc.)?
Once you add a the ability for visitors to login, simple websites turn into custom development projects making your website a web app (plus not all developers can implement a secure login system).
Functionality can add a day to months of development if it requires custom development.
If you're looking for a basic website (aka a "brochure website") then you're in luck because you'll save time and be able to use a super fast website builder (and web hosting).
I consider ecommerce as functionality so if you're in need of an ecommerce website then it'll add around a week of time to your project (or more).
If you're in a hurry, gather all your products and SKUs in a spreadsheet to make uploading them a breeze. Also get your payment processor setup so it's ready to connect to your website builder.
Content Management Systems
Content managements systems (CMS) are a fantastic feature to manage similar groupings of content/content structures - such as team members. And while a CMS adds more to the development time, the total time will be reduced if you have a lot of content.
Typical development time for a CMS starts at one day and can grow significantly based on the complexity of your data and site.
It's much easier to add 20 team members to a spreadsheet and design a template once than it is to duplicate 20 pages and add your team members that way.
Website Builder (Huge Impact)
The website builder will have a significant impact on the delivery time!
I used to be a naïve web developer and build websites from scratch using custom code.
I hate WordPress because I understand the foundation is filled with bad practices. Plus you need to use third party website builders. The entire WordPress website development process is not efficient whatsoever.
I then found Duda.
Now if you have no website experience, Duda will take some time to get used to. So if you're in a hurry to build a website, or don't need granular control over stuff, then Strikingly can be a good option.
Note: With Strikingly you can easily build a website in a day. It's a good platform for business owners who want to build the website themselves.
It has ALL the tools needed to build a website FAST and with excellent quality. Now, 80% of my website builds are done on Duda.
I output websites in half the time (so do other agencies).
Readers of this post get an exclusive discount on Duda through this link and by using code "createtoday".
Interested to see how Duda stacks up against WordPress, checkout my comparison.
Who's building the website? Are they an efficiency junkie ~that's me!~? Or do they not know how to build websites efficiently.
Also, how fast are they at responding to your emails? If they are slow now, just wait until the website development process begins. So beyond experience, their determination and willingness will be a factor.
If you are building a large website then you'll likely interact with project managers and not directly with the website developer. The experience of the project manager will also impact the duration of the website build.
Did you know that most website's on the internet are built with a starter template? And did you know that I have no hard data to back that up but that's how it seems?
But seriously, as a web designer I know what cookie cutter templates look like and I see them all the time. Most sites are WordPress websites (that I know).
So, do you want a custom website/custom theme development?
Custom websites will increase the development time by 20% or more (rough estimate).
Duda, the platform that I use to save my a bunch of time building websites, has pre-made templates that don't look cookie cutter.
They also have blank templates for custom websites.
If you are hiring someone for your web project, then this section is for you.
I don't know you, but I know clients. And most of them take a long time to deliver the goods (pictures, accounts, information, the list goes on...).
I pride myself in hitting my deadlines (often delivering earlier), however, clients are often the culprit of delayed launches for me.
If you need to build a website fast, gather all the pages you need, assets such as images you have, and accounts such as DNS as soon as possible.
Giving your website guy more is better. We'd rather have too much information about your business than not enough.
The final factor you have control over is the amount of change requests. Not only do change requests add time to the project, but they also disrupt the flow of the entire process causing delayed launches. It's best to identify all the requirements upfront so the site takes less time to build. So start requesting all the features you can think of as early as possible.
So how long does it take?
You've asked yourself a worthy question, "How long does it take to build a website?", and you might still be wondering, "How long does it take?".
If you're in a rush and have a typical website (around five pages), then you can get your small business a website in a week.
I'd recommend to not rush your new site. Rather, let the professional agency take their time on the various stages of building a website so you can get more clicks, conversions, and profits!
The development phase will become more time consuming as more pages and more features are added.
There are other factors that will impact the development phase, but I've covered the major factors.
The average time to create a website will also vary depending on the platform you use. I highly recommend checking out Duda as it was a game change for my building process.
Happy website building! ✌️