This is a hard question to answer because there are many variables that make the answer hard to figure out. Some variables include the scope of the project, designer and developer skills, content availability, the responsiveness of the client, how busy the developer is currently, and the experience level of the developer.

Building a website can be done in as little as a couple of days. Or, it can take several months depending on the amount of content needed and functions needed. Content includes images, words, graphics, etc… Functions include social media streaming, e-commerce, newsletter signup, events, etc… The bigger the project, the longer it takes to build.

Issues That Halt Design

The main issue that causes delays in web development is a lack of response from the client. If a developer asks for the client’s logo and they don’t provide it in a timely manner, work on the website comes to a halt. If the client doesn’t have access to their domain registration, the website can’t be launched. It is very important to have clear communication and be responsive to your developer. But, back to basics…how much time is needed to build a website?

A Basic Website

Let’s use a basic website as an example. A basic website usually consists of 4 pages: Home, About, Services/Products, and a Contact page. (The more pages you have, the more space you have for search engine optimization or SEO) More is better. Keyword research has to be done first which can take 15 minutes to an hour depending on the industry or products. Selecting and editing images take the bulk of web development time along with writing content. Building a basic home page can take 2-4 hours depending on the needed content. I usually estimate 2 hours per page, but it can take less or more time depending on what is needed. One size fits all does not apply to web design. SEO adds another 1-2 hours of tweaking. So a four-page site, on average, will take anywhere from 5-12 hours. However, that is true only if the designer has all the information and content needed from the client first.

Years, Not Minutes

Each developer has different skills and those differences can determine speed. Some designers can write copy, some can edit images, some contract out copy or design, some use templates as a base and others design from a blank canvas. If a developer has a wide array of talent they can build faster. Also, being familiar with your tools makes a huge difference in development speed.

Just because a designer is fast, doesn’t mean you can pay them less. Here is a quote that I remind myself of from time to time when I am estimating the proper cost for a project: “If I do a job in 30 minutes, it is because I spent 10 years learning how to do that in 30 minutes. You owe me for the years, not the minutes.” Developers with a variety of skills that have also been designing websites for a long time and have mastered their tools can build quality websites faster.

I have read that a developer who is familiar with their tools can work 10x faster than someone new to them. I think this is true, especially when it comes to front-end development. If you want your project done quickly, hire someone who knows how to use their tools well. An experienced developer who knows how to build websites will be able to design and build a website in less time than someone who has just started out. It is important that you understand this before you hire a designer. If you are looking for someone who can build quickly, then find an experienced developer first and then hire them as your designer.

Fast and Cheap

There is a difference between fast and cheap, and if you are working with freelancers, you will find that most of them are on the cheaper end. This isn’t always the case, but it’s important to understand why this happens. Most designers don’t consider their role in the project when they bid on it. They just look at how many hours they think it will take them to complete the work and add some padding for errors. The problem is that these estimates never seem to be accurate.

I used to create a proposal for how much time I thought it would take me to build a website. Now, I create proposals for how much I am willing to build that particular site for. I’m fast and I don’t think I should be penalized for being fast. 🙂 See the quote above.