The answers to these questions vary dramatically depending on the size and scope of the project. Our team has designed, developed and launched websites within a month when absolutely required, while others can take a phased approach for more than a year.
Regardless of this variance, we have found that it always make sense to follow a well-defined process for designing and developing a new website. We establish phases and milestones for every web project and ensure that we hit the goals at each stage as we move into the next. This phased approach easily turns into a plan and a clear website timeline. Having designed and built hundreds of enterprise-level website, we know that this process works and builds a platform for success.
The following list outlines the phases involved when creating a website. There is a variance in time associated with each milestone depending on the requirements of each project however, this will provide a guide as to what you could expect:
1. Discovery and planning (2 to 10 weeks)
This is one of the most crucial stages of the project as it is at this stage that the foundation for the success of the project is determined. Areas covered at this stage may include research; discovery sessions; writing of creative brief; writing of a technical briefs or more detailed architecture, requirements and definitions document; site architecture plan; wireframes and sitemap creation.
2. Design (4 to 12 weeks)
Based on the creative brief and information gathered in the discovery stage the project will then move to the design stage. It is at this stage that design mock ups are created and presented for feedback to establish a design that meets the goals of the new website. Design mockups may include homepage designs, multiple internal page designs, desktop views and mobile views.
3. Content writing and assembly (5 to 15 weeks)
The value of good content to any website cannot be underestimated. As important as a good design, quality content can set a website apart. It can be a time-consuming process entering new content and migrating existing content however the reward is worth the effort. Content writing and assembly involves establishing key messages and calls-to-action, porting over content from existing sites, writing new text, editing text, creating headlines, page titles, captions and SEO optimized text, headlines, descriptions and tags. This process typically overlaps with other parts of the site creation process.
4. Development and programming (6 to 15 weeks)
Using the approved design, site architecture, technical brief and sitemap the project then moves to the development stage. This is where the website comes to life and all the elements of the site come together to produce a high quality website. There is little client involvement at this stage of the project, however, a good portion of the timeline will be required for this stage. If custom web applications are required within the site, the timeline for this phase can stretch even longer.
5. Beta testing and review (2 to 6 weeks)
Once the site has been developed it then goes to a beta testing stage. The opportunity is given to the client to share the site with the necessary stakeholders for review and feedback in a password-protected location. Testing is also conducted during this stage to ensure the site is optimized across multiple browsers, screens and mobile devices and ensure the site is performing as it should prior to launch.
6. Site launch (1 day to 2 weeks)
Upon approval from the beta stage the new website is then launched with no interruption to the current site. The launch process can be simple and quick, or can be more involved depending on what is involved.
Maintenance and Enhancements (ongoing)
Once a site has gone live, there needs to be ongoing upkeep, in terms of the hosting and security. There is also a great opportunity to keep improving on the site based on real user feedback and requests. We suggest with some of our sites to actually schedule periodic reviews and enhancements on a schedule so that site owners remember this ooportunity.
We hope this helps to provide insight into the time required in developing a new website. If you would like to discuss your next web project and the likely time requirements, we would be happy to learn about your goals. Please contact us to initiate a discussion.