Building a website can take anywhere from a few weeks to half a year, and we've found that this tends to vary depending on a variety of factors, including whether you decide to build the site yourself or pay someone else to do it for you.
Many businesses ask a developer to code them a website from scratch, which can take several months, while others simply use a beginner-focused website builder instead, which can end up being significantly quicker. The size and complexity of your site will also drastically affect timings, as will the content you plan to publish.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at exactly how long it takes to build a website, what might impact your timing, and whether you should hire a professional to help you.
- How Long Does It Take to Build a Website?
- What Can Impact Website Building Timings?
- Professionals vs Website Builders: Pros & Cons
- Verdict: How Long Does a Website Take to Build?
How Long Does It Take to Build a Website?
As we've mentioned above, building a website can take anywhere from a few weeks to half a year depending on the size of your site, the complexity of content you plan to publish, and whether you pay a web developer or build it yourself.
The route you choose to take will also significantly impact the costs associated with building your website.
Route one: do-it-yourself
Generally, as you have more control over the process and the website building won’t be as “in-depth”, the DIY route is a little quicker. Here are some rough timings for this process.
1. Nail down your concept & build an action plan (1 to 2 weeks)
First up, you’re going to need to decide on a concept – but if you’re already looking to build a website, you probably have one in mind. This could be anything from a blog, to a news site or an ecommerce store.
Next, you’ll need to use that concept to inform the purpose of your site. What will your blog be about? What will your store sell? These are all questions that have to be answered before you move on to the next stage in the process. Starting without a proper plan in place is a recipe for disaster.
The core purpose of your site will affect things like your site structure, content, and other important aspects of your site architecture. It’ll also affect what plug-ins and add-ons you end up implementing on your pages, as well as possible revenue streams (such as advertisements) you might want to explore.
2. Choose a website builder (1 to 3 days)
As you might have guessed, choosing a website builder is one of the most important parts of the process. Website builders like Wix have AI tools that can make the initial setup process really quick, whereas providers like Squarespace are focused more on design. All things considered, opting for an AI website builder will definitely speed things up.
You could also opt for a provider like Hostinger, which is a lot more affordable than the two mentioned above. We’d also recommend opting for a website builder with SEO prompts if you’re new to the world of optimizing content for search engines.
Whatever you need, there’ll be a website builder to suit your requirements. Just make sure you’re comparing its advantages and disadvantages before parting with any cash. Free trials can help you to test without strings, and make the right final decision.
Wix is one of our top-rated tools for easy website building. See our guide to how to create a website with Wix.
3. Create your content (1 hour to 1 week)
The timings for this stage will vary wildly depending on how big you plan to make your site, how many pages you plan to make in advance, and the components, copy, and media that you'd like to insert into these pages. In other words, the bigger your site, the longer the content creation stage will take.
If you’re looking to make a simple blog, and you’re familiar with your topic area, then you’re going to be able to generate your content relatively swiftly. If you plan to prepare video content for every page on your site, you’ll need time to film, edit and render it.
The more content you prepare before publishing, the less you’ll have to do immediately after your site goes live. Putting an online store live without uploading half of your product descriptions, however, would lead to a poor user experience. Calmly working through your to-do list at this stage is crucial.
4. Design your site (1 hour to 1 week)
Many years ago, if you wanted to design a website yourself, you’d have to be fluent in at least one coding language in order to tackle building a lot of the back-end functionality on your own.
However, in 2023, you can just use a no or low-code website builder, such as Wix, which even has an AI tool that will complete much of the initial setup for you. Most website builders deploy a “drag-and-drop” technique which effectively means you can just move components around on your screen however you like.
If you want to get up and running quickly, simply select a pre-designed website templated made available by your website builder. If you opt for a design-focused provider like Squarespace, you’ll have a much wider choice than a provider like Hostinger, and you’ll probably be able to create what you had in mind a little quicker.
5. Test it out (1 to 2 days)
It’s essential that you test your site before publishing, or you’ll just end up spending all your time mopping up your mistakes after it goes live.
What's more, if you publish your site and something goes wrong that subsequently affects the experience of visitors to your site, that will send negative signals to Google, which is particularly bad if you’re primary goal is to rank highly in the search engine results.
6. Publish your site!
Finally, it’s time to publish and list your site! By this point, you should have rigorously tested it and have absolutely everything ready to go. If you don’t, it’s time to go back a step.
Route two: Pay a developer
If you end up opting for a developer over building a website yourself, then this will change your timings and process. If you do choose this option, your process will look a little bit like the below.
1. Nail down your concept & build an action plan (3 – 4 weeks)
This will be a similar process to the one you'll complete if you take the DIY route – you'll need to map out your concept and goals.
However, if you do go for this route, you may have to put a little more consideration into how you're presenting your action plan while you write it, to ensure it'll be clear enough for someone else (i.e. a website developer) who's not yet been privy to your plans.
2. Choose a web developer (2 – 3 weeks)
The website developer(s) that will end up building your website will control its front-end style and back-end technical setup, ultimately determining its success, so you'll want to choose carefully. You’ll probably want to review a given developer or agency’s previous work to ensure that they deliver high-quality websites. You could visit websites they’ve recently made to see how they function, and get a feel for their skill level.
You can find a capable, reliable developer with an excellent resume via a marketplace or freelance platform. Of course, it also needs to be within your price range, and you may need to consider hiring two different web developers to deal with the front-end design and the coding on the back end respectively, so whether they're able to collaborate is also important.
It's important to take your time and consider a few different options. You’ll be handing over a lot of responsibilities to whoever you choose and paying a considerable chunk of cash for their end product.
3. Agree detailed designs with your chosen web developer (1 to 4 weeks)
After choosing your developer(s), it’s time to clue them in on the full details of your project plans, and start working out how to make them a reality.
It’s extremely important in this phase to communicate clearly what functional features and visual elements you want and don't want, especially with regard to your design, or you won’t get a good return on your investment. It can be very time consuming going back and forth between different ideas, and some developers charge by the hour or day, rather than the end result.
It’s good to ask your chosen developer to map out a realistic timeframe for building each part of your website, and discuss elements of the project they think may become challenging. If you have relatively little experience building websites, you may not realize the length of time that certain tasks could take to complete.
4. Review and refine your developer's mockups (1 to 6 weeks)
Once you've agreed the scope of your website ambitions, and discussed the design details, all good web developer(s) will ask you to approve to-scale, realistic-looking, final mockups to ensure you're on exactly the same page before they pour hours into creation.
Pay close attention to these visual mockups and give careful feedback before you sign off on them, so the project can continue moving forward in the right direction.
Be prepared to spend a significant chunk of time reviewing multiple versions of your mocked up designs, even if you've given really clear instructions in the previous step, as there are so many possibilities for website design that it can be difficult to transform your vision into a reality that's just right.
You'll need to review and give feedback page by page (or page type by page type, if you're looking for templated designs for blog posts, product pages etc.) This will obviously take longer, the bigger the website will be.
After feeding back to your developer on what you like and don’t like about their mockups, you’ll need to wait while they action your feedback, until you're happy they've sent to you a version you're perfectly happy with. If you have very specific requirements, but your instructions weren’t clear enough from the outset, then this stage can become unnecessarily arduous. This is why it’s so vital to give a clear and easy-to-understand outline of exactly what you want, at every possible chance.
5. Website development (1 to 6+ months)
Unlike the website builder route, from this point, it’s really in the developer's hands. All you can do is continue to prepare content to publish on your website after it goes live.
Your developer(s) may share previews or test pages as they go, to reassure you of their progress. If you change your mind on the designs once work has already begun, you might need to pay more to redo the previous steps of the development process.
6. Test your site out (2 to 4 weeks)
Once your pages have been fully built to your designs, you can head into the final review and testing phase. This is a chance for you to make sure everything is up to standard and working as you expect, without any ‘bugs'. You should stress-test it, while you still have developers to hand to fix any potential errors. Click on everything, fill out all the forms, use all the buttons and menus, and make sure they're reacting exactly as you envisaged, meeting the previous design specifications.
This will be your absolute, final chance to provide any remaining feedback, if you need to, so it’s vitally important that you test every relevant component of your site.
7. Publish Your Site!
Once you're happy with how everything is looking and working, the website will be handed over to you. You can now input and upload your unique written or visual content and put it live (unless you've requested a basic site without any editing and publishing capabilities, and already handed over all the content as part of the previous steps).
You can share your website's address with others (for example, add it to your business cards) and start generating traffic to reach new audiences and potential customers.
Just like the do-it-yourself route, after publishing, you should keep adding fresh content to your site on a regular basis, as well as updating existing content, to enrich your site structure and grow its online presence.
What Can Impact Website Building Timings?
During the website building process, there’s a myriad of factors that will affect how long it takes you to both build and publish your site, some of which we've alluded to already. These include:
- DIY vs developer: You can use a website builder to get a site up and running in a few days, whereas collaborating with a developer will take longer.
- The purpose of your site: A simple blog or portfolio for your personal work might only take two-three weeks to complete, but an online store with hundreds of products and more specific requirements overall will take a while.
- The size of your site: Naturally, creating hundreds of individual web pages takes time, whereas a one-page website will take significantly fewer hours to build.
- Technology stack: The tech you use to develop your website – as well as how familiar those working on the site are with it – can massively affect timings.
- Design and functionality: Complex, custom designs take time to plan out and create, so if you want something very unique or specific, it’ll take longer.
- The size of your team: If you’re a one-man band, then it’s going to take you a while to build your site, even with a developer’s help. A larger team will mean people can work on tasks at the same time.
Professionals vs Website Builders
Like anything, there are pros and cons to building a website yourself with a website builder and getting a professional web developer to do the job for you.
Pros and cons of a developer building your website
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to hiring a professional website developer. Pros include:
- A professional touch. Web builders have made it easy for novices to create websites, but a developer will always be able to build a more complex website.
- Freeing up your time. If you pay a website developer, you’ll be able to get on with aspects of your website like content creation.
However, some cons are:
- Price. Unfortunately, paying a competent web developer for months of their time costs a significant amount of money.
- Minimal control. Delegating responsibility for designing your website does leave a lot in the hands of the developer, who may not deliver what you had in mind the first time around.
- Timing issues. You may have to be more flexible with your timings if your web developer's schedule turns out to not match your own.
Pros and cons of do-it-yourself website building
The same can, of course, be said for using a website builder. Some pros include:
- Easier budgeting. You’ll pay upfront for a website builder, but after that, you’ll be unlikely to occur additional development costs that will drastically alter your budget.
- Maximum control. Building your site yourself will let you exert your personal, individual touch throughout the whole process.
- You don’t need to be an expert. Mainstream website builders are built with beginners in mind and have a myriad of professional templates, as well as native SEO support.
But there are also disadvantages:
- You'll have less time. Even though you don't need to be an expert to build a website, it may take you longer if you're inexperienced, even if you pick a website builder for beginners.
- You might make mistakes. You're more likely to make mistakes than a professional, so you may have to spend some time correcting errors.
If you do end up opting for a website builder, then the provider you choose will affect how long it takes you to build your website. Some providers are better for building online stores, such as Shopify, whereas Wix will give you more support during setup than a more basic web builder.
That’s why it's important to compare the best website builders available to ensure you choose one that suits you.
Verdict: How Long Does it Take a Website to Build?
If your website is going to be relatively small and you want to get up and running quickly, then go for a website builder. If you're planning on building a huge online store with hundreds of products, then finding a developer to help you will be a wise choice.
In 2023, there are some extremely capable website builders available at affordable prices, and you don’t need any coding knowledge to use them – so before you pay for a web developer, we’d suggest comparing website builders that will let you build a website yourself.
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