Web design and development is a complicated process. That said, it needn’t take an age. Many businesses put off engaging with web development, however, because they become daunted by the time they fear web development might take.
Realistic expectations are important: understanding that web development takes time is part of properly planning for a project and setting meaningful benchmarks. There are two ways of being unrealistic, though: one can be too optimistic, of course; but one can also be much too pessimistic.
A good web developer will prioritise efficient working and timely delivery of a project. That said, a website can take a minimum of fourteen weeks from start to finish – not an insignificant period of time, however quickly a web designer works.
Starting with an understanding of the realities of web development, it’s entirely possible to limit any further delays – and ensure that fourteen weeks is all it takes. There’s no need to fear the dreaded “project creep”, or the endless web development programme … as long as some thought, and even some preparation, is put in place first.
Web development goes through five stages: discover, design, revisions, initial development and, finally, modifications. Being clear at each stage – ensuring briefs have real clarity and all parties are certain as to goals and KPIs – will ensure that no step needs to be repeated or take longer than necessary. Thinking about what you want before any work is undertaken will ensure that no labour is wasted.
Keeping each stage of the process clean in this way will make sure that the project isn’t slowed down by the web development equivalent of leaves on the line. Equally, you should ask three questions of each web design job: how soon can development begin, how long until the website will be ready for review, and when will you be able to launch the website?
The answers to each of these questions will be dictated by capacity: how busy is your designer, and how many resources are you – and they – able to devote to the project to ensure as rapid progress as possible?
Choose a developer who is able to respond to your needs, not one who is over-worked or bogged down; set project benchmarks so everyone is sure when interim stages should be reached; and devote yourself, too, to the timetable – often the launch date, in particular, will be all about when your own organisation is ready, as much as the site itself.
Ultimately, though, timescales will usually be most dependent on the complexity of the project. That brings us back to realism – be ambitious but don’t be a Pollyanna. A brochure site can be completed in weeks; an interactive e-commerce site is simply going to take a little longer.
Clarity can help grease the wheels; agreed timetables can keep all parties on track; but, ultimately, understanding the complexity of your project – and being honest about the implications of that for the length of time it will take to complete – is what truly decides how long your web development will take.
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