In case you’re reading this, odds are your business need a new website, and you have to make sense of to what extent it will take and the amount it will cost. The good news for you is that I have the appropriate response; the bad news is it might not be as quick as you might want it to be. So, how long does it take to redesign a website? The short answer is, it depends.
Here’s a different way to look at it. Your family is growing, the kids are getting bigger, you adopted a dog, and it’s time to find a new house since you’ve outgrown your current one. How long will it take for your family to relocate? Are you hoping to move into the suburbs where your model home is indistinguishable to the majority of your neighbors and prepared for move-in? Or maybe you are looking to build your house from scratch, so that it can be custom built around your family’s needs? Or maybe your current house isn’t so bad and all you need is to expand the kitchen and add a coat of fresh paint? What more, remember the time to pack and unpack all of your stuff. My point here is, there are a ton of factors that can effect how long it takes to move from start to finish.
The same thing applies to redesigning a website. I get asked this question from business owners constantly. And I’m going to walk you through a very typical discussion that I have with every person who asks me, “How long will it take to redesign my website?”
John Doe (Business Owner): I’d like to redesign my website, is this something Splice Digital Media can do?
Me: Yes we can! However, can you tell me a little more about why you are looking to redesign your website?
At this point John Doe gives 10 minutes overview of how his website was built five years ago and that it’s third site in eight years. He enlightens me about how his business used to rank in Google in the top two positions. For some reason, that changed and now their competitors are ranking better than they are. John Doe think his company should have a blog and that they need to work on their Search Engine Optimization. He additionally realizes that they should probably pump up their social programs and that they’ve yet to see any great results from PPC advertising.
Me: Yes, it definitely sounds like redoing your website is a smart investment for you. Can I ask you what some of your goals are for your new site?
John Doe: It needs to look current, it needs to be easier to use and it needs to incorporate with our back end system. It could likewise needs to work on mobile. It could also use some new imagery and some updated content. Again, it’s been five years since the last time we updated it.
Me: (while looking at John Doe’s site) Hmm…Your website looks like it has around 110 pages, nine different major sections, a blog that hasn’t been updated in 12 months and it’s built on an older CMS. Are you planning to keep all of the content?
John Doe: Probably. We are thinking about adding a few new pages.
Me: When is the last time you have updated your site pages to be sure you have the right content?
John Doe: Most likely the last time we did our website…five years ago.
Me: Ok…a couple of more questions: Do you have any board members or other stakeholders that will be engaged in this process? Who will facilitate the new content creation? Do you have an in-house person who will coordinate the content migration? Also, is there any special integration that should be considered?
John Doe: I don’t know. Our CEO and one more person will be involved, but mainly in the beginning of the redesign. I’m not sure about the content. We will most likely do this without anyone’s help since we know our business best and can presumably spare cash on the project if we keep that in-house. But the main thing is that we want to have the new website up and running by the end of March.
Me : (scratching my head and pausing for about three seconds) John, that’s in five weeks. What if I told you that with the extent of your website, your situation and your goals, you’re looking at about a two to three months project?
John Doe: Oh. It will really take that long?
Me: The short answer is yes. We’ve been helping companies rebuild websites of all sizes for years. It can easily take two to three months and sometimes much more for strategically planned sites. For an ecommerce website, this is more like four months to five months, sometimes even longer. For a basic business website, say for a small Ma and Pop business that only needs their website to show up when people are searching for the closest florist, we can have a site done for them in about three weeks to two months. On the other hand, we’ve been working on some websites for months. These sites being major multi-language, highly customized ecommerce sites with a lot of integrations. Keep in mind the time spans I am giving you are from kickoff to launch. You should remember that you would still need to share more information about the project for us to prepare a proposal that precisely diagrams the extent of the project and the services we would be providing (for example are you writing the content or are we?). You should consider that the process of picking a strategic partner might take a few weeks when picking your target launch date.
John Doe: Well, we’re not Mam and Pap or ecommerce or ecommerce business, so you’re saying it will still take longer?
Me: (smiling) Correct. Does that time frame seem reasonable to you?
John Doe: Not really. Why does it take long?
Me: There are many stated to a website redesign project. Our process includes discovery, planning, user experience design and testing, development (both in terms of website content and programming), fit and finishing, content review, Search engine optimization considerations, and much more, but you get the idea. Did the other company talk with you about their process?
John Doe: Not really.
Me: Beyond the basic requirements of the website task there are different impacts that can broaden the project timeline including:
- Development of your brand message, tone and positioning of your content and design, and usually rewriting content that actually sounds good to your audience.
- Any system integrations your business may have or need.
- Content. Content is hands down the main reason sites are delayed. Product data and written content, that is. Once you’ve made the commitment regarding a new site, content ought to be the main thing on your to-do list.
- Your internal approval process. What board members need to make decisions on the new website? How long will it take to get an answer back from them?
- Your availability. Clients who aren’t involved tend to slow down the process. But that will be normal, after all you’re not going to be lounge around solely dealing with your new website.
- Content migration takes time. If you’re not already on a modern platform, each page needs to be moved over manually.
- Depending on the content, it can take anywhere between four to twenty minutes per page. And you said you have 110 pages, right?
- And user experience research. You need to dedicate time in understanding who your audience are and how they want and need to interact with your website.
John Doe: We don’t have any integrations other than MailChimp.
Me: Let me share a little bit about our procedure. The discovery phase usually includes competitive research, basic usability testing, SEO planning, design concept planning, navigation planning, and so forth. It’s imperative that you don’t skip this early step, otherwise you’ll end up with a site that you don’t like and worse yet, a website that won’t meet all of your goals that we discussed earlier. We ask a lot of questions so we completely comprehend what the requirements are to build your website. Our discovery stage can take up to a month and is typically accomplished with a few meetings and a couple phone calls.
I will send you over this graphic on building a website.
John Doe: I guess I didn’t understand there were such of significant number things to consider when redesigning a website.
Me: Basically a website redesign project takes time than most people expect. But since we know the majority of the elements that go into a website design, we like to be upfront with clients before starting projects so that their expectations are met. Even small sites can be big tasks with many moving parts. This is your site, and you’re going to invest a considerable amount of time and money into this, so you should really do this right the first time.
John Doe: Thank you for your insights. This gives me a lot to think about.
There are a lot of choices and factors that go into building a site. If you’ve done this previously, you will acknowledge why it takes this long. If you’ve never done this before, consider choosing a web/marketing partner who will hold your hand and guide you to making sound judgment and concentrate less on the speed and more on what the end result will bring you.
Do You Need it Built Faster?
Consider building your site in stages over a period of time. Trim down your underlying requirements to get to a minimal “loveable” site. Then plan out and implement updates every three months with your website partner. You might find that you can have a new site up in two to three months with an initial smaller investment. In the big picture, it might cost the same or even more, but this approach sometimes enables you to adjust your website and marketing needs as you go, giving you much better product at last.