“We need to move fast on this project, how quickly can you deliver a new site?”
“We’re changing the direction of the business and need to update the website ASAP!”
These are just a few questions and comments we receive from prospects when discussing the website design and build process. Whilst speed is important, it’s not the biggest priority for us here at Strafe Creative, we really value the quality of the project.
From the initial research into our clients and their target users to the wireframe prototypes and our 200-point QA checklist – we pride ourselves on ensuring our clients receive the best possible results.
Of course, website design and build processes vary depending on who you work with. Whilst some will use similar theory and methodology as us, the nitty-gritty details of the actual process will be different.
We offer both design and build services, however, some clients choose to work with us only on the design work and then develop themselves.
So, how long does a website take to design and build?
As we mentioned in our blog ‘how much does a website really cost’, each project is bespoke to the customer meaning it’s pretty tricky to answer these kinds of questions with one clear answer.
The truth of the matter is however it takes between 5 – 7 months to design and build a new website with us.
How long do some typical website types take to design and build?
Here’s a breakdown of a number of different website types and their approximate timelines:
- Website Design Only (supply the files for a client build): 2 – 4 months
- Website – Hubspot plus SEO 3rd Party: 6 -8 months
- Website – Hubspot: 5 – 7 months
- Website – WordPress plus SEO 3rd Party: 6 -8 months
- Website – WordPress: 5 – 7 months
- E-Commerce – Shopify plus SEO 3rd Party: 8 – 10 months
- E-Commerce – Shopify: 7 – 9 months
- E-Commerce – WooCommerce plus SEO 3rd Party: 8 – 10 months
- E-Commerce – WooCommerce: 6 – 8 months
It’s probably no surprise that an e-commerce site takes much longer to build. With the importing and managing of all the products, setting up payment gateways and many more additional elements, e-commerce sites require more time and more QA and testing.
Keep reading to understand why working with a 3rd party supplier for SEO typically increases the length of the project.
What factors affect the website design and build process?
Given there are a million different combinations of features, variables, functionality and designs that you can create, each client project takes us different amounts of time. We’ve worked on hundreds of websites over the years and have perfected our own detailed process and methodology.
Whilst we have a rough idea of this timeline, there are a number of things that affect the project length – including:
- The complexity of the project – the site’s purpose and its functionality, more work = more time.
- Client internal approvals process – how many people have to sign new work off, are there international offices to work with and consider.
- Client availability to sign off on time – as standard we allow 2 days to send feedback, but if this turns into 4 – 5 days then we have to extend the project length.
- Client holidays – this could cause a delay and should be discussed upfront.
- Staff illness – a reality that we have to consider both internally and with the client.
- Content creation – producing new copy or photography can be time-consuming.
- Number of amends – we offer unlimited revisions but this can slow down timelines.
- Working with 3rd parties – their own processes, input, feedback and technical specifications.
What is the process to design and build a high-converting website?
You’re probably wondering why on earth it takes us 5 – 7 months to do all this work right? 🤔
And that’s a totally fair question and one we’ll answer if you keep reading 👇…
At Strafe Creative our website design and build process is mapped out in Wrike, our heaven-sent project management software. Each step of the process is detailed in a Gantt chart, showing which elements rely on each other and where project parts can be worked on simultaneously.
With that in mind, this timeline doesn’t add up specifically to 5 – 7 months as some of it can be worked at the same time. Plus we’re giving approximate timings based on those factors we mentioned that could delay things.
To exemplify this process for you we’re going to explain the process for a WordPress website with SEO optimisation (from a 3rd party).
From vision to ignition: the Strafe Creative website design and build process
1. Technical Planning (2 – 3 weeks)
This initial research stage is just as important as the design and development phases. When prospects ask us ‘how long does a website take to design and build’, we always explain that this first stage is a crucial part of the process too.
In the first few weeks we cover these key areas:
- Client to complete staff and customers questionnaires
- Client to complete a technical questionnaire
- Technical briefing and specification
- Technical meeting with the developers
- Finalisation of the project brief
Whilst the questionnaires serve as a great starting point, the technical meeting is an important part of this process to ensure that all requirements and expectations are captured into the project brief.
As a conversion-led agency, this upfront data collection is vital to ensure we’re designing something that really addresses your user’s wants and needs.
One great example of this is our work with Void Homme. We did a LOT of research into the needs, wants and objections of the target audience, to ensure we addressed all possible objections and questions in the design and content.
This helped to increase conversions as the customers had all the info they needed to make a purchase decision there and then. Read the full story here.
2. User Flow (2 – 4 weeks)
In the 2nd stage, we design the user flow and if required work closely with the SEO agency to ensure it meets their technical requirements too.
When working with additional agencies we have to factor in their time and involvement in the project – hence why it adds a few weeks onto the timeline. For the purpose of the example in this post, we’ll be including the SEO agency.
Once we’ve finalised the user frame with our partners, we present and review it with the client directly. They too have the chance to give feedback and we amend until they are happy it meets their objectives.
If you’re wondering about their importance, here are six reasons why you NEED a user flow.
3. Art Direction (1 – 2 weeks)
Art direction is an exciting week in the project when we get to be creative and share ideas with the client. We source inspiration and styles from other websites and apps to help us identify which direction we want to take the look and feel of the design.
I cannot stress enough how important this stage really is. Without context and visual references to discuss with a client, we both could interpret descriptions and words entirely differently.
For example, the images below show three ‘professional’ looking designs, however, not everyone would interpret each one as ‘professional’. By reviewing these visual elements, including fonts, photography styles, colour palettes and other design features with the client we can get to grips with what they like and what they mean specifically when they things like ‘I want a professional looking design’.
We give each design style a name and collate designs and ideas that we can refer back to, once the client has shared feedback.
4. UX Wireframing (3 – 4 weeks)
This next step is all about the user experience – wireframing is the first step in bringing that experience to life for the end-user.
Here’s how this process looks over the course of around a month – although the time frames really vary here depending on the complexity of the journey:
- Creation of the skeletal structure of the site
- Evaluation of the wireframes by SEO Agency
- Amends to wireframes following SEO recommendations and the creation of a high-fidelity, working prototype
- Live presentation session with the client to review the user journey
- Client feedback
- Amends where required
- UX wireframe sign off
Read more about the importance of wireframes in all UI and UX design here.
5. Homepage Design (2 – 3 weeks)
The homepage is a crucial part of the design work as it determines the style, look and feel of the rest of the website.
During the client meeting, we present three different designs:
- Bang on – a design that fits the brief perfectly
- Creative push – a design that is slightly more creative
- A wild card – a design that pushes the boundaries of the creative brief
Following client feedback, we offer unlimited revisions until the client is 100% happy. Without this signed-off, we cannot progress to the internal pages.
Below you can see two (of a few) designs we worked on for our client London Sock Company. On their previous site, a carousel in the top fold of the website wasn’t proving very engaging, they wanted to encourage users to browse through the products.
Image 1 – whilst meets the objective, actually was guiding the users to specific products which would need to be updated regularly.
This is a key consideration when choosing a design, whilst some look incredible if it’s too complex to maintain once we’ve handed it over then clients won’t feel confident or keen to keep it up to date with new products and messaging.
Image 2, which is actually the design they picked gives the user a choice of two collections to choose from and therefore meets the client’s objective. The bold use of photography immediately engages the user to browse through the products.
6. Internal Pages (5 – 7 weeks)
The length of this stage will often vary depending on the number of internal pages we’re designing. By internal pages I mean, about, contact, services etc – anything that gives the users additional information about your business or service.
Once the homepage design is signed off we apply this design and art direction to the remaining pages and work closely with the SEO agency to ensure that it suits their specifications too.
We go back and forth with the client to finalise all the page concepts and get them signed off.
7. Client Content (2 – 4 weeks)
This is such an important part of the website design and build process, yet is often overlooked on project plans.
Now you cannot start this part too early, as the content, whether that’s imagery or text, needs to be collated in line with the new designs. We use a content platform to collect this text and imagery, it gives us clear word count limits and shows exactly what size and where the images should be.
It’s a fantastic framework which helps us ensure that the content aligns with the designs. We can amend it slightly afterwards but the bulk of the text and imagery should fit.
This can be pulled together as the website build starts, but it always takes longer than imagined and that is important to factor in!
8. Web Build Sprints 1 – 4 (2-week sprints, totalling approximately 8 weeks)
Hurrah the actual building of the website can finally start! We work in five reiterative sprints to bring the designs, user flows and wireframes to life. All our projects are set up in a development portal which the client can view at any time.
As a reminder, a sprint is a short period of project time during which specific work or deliverables are completed. The idea of sprints is that they are reiterative – following testing and feedback, updates and amends are made in the next sprint and the website evolves over time.
The build phase usually goes in this order:
- Building global areas (header, footer etc)
- Complex pages and functionality
- Regular pages and responsiveness
- Completion and QA
During this penultimate sprint, we show the client the website, however, as mentioned, they do have access to the development portal throughout.
9. Final Content Insertion and QA (1 – 2 weeks)
During this stage, we add in all the content collected and make sure it fits and flows with the design.
We work through a comprehensive 200-point QA checklist and use a bug tracking app to help us identify any issues. Our team or the client can easily click on the problem and add notes in a small pop-up window. The software then provides us with a screenshot of the issue and records screen size, browser type, computer model etc so that our developers can easily recreate the issue and then fix it – genius!
The SEO agency will advise us on any technical additions such as meta titles and descriptions that will help improve the searchability of the site.
10. Client Content Population (1 – 2 weeks)
After the website has been populated and our first round of checks is complete, we share it with the client for their review and feedback!
Where relevant we’ll also train the client on how to populate parts of the site themselves in the back end of the content management system.
11. Web Build Sprint 5 (2 – 3 weeks)
During this sprint, we make amends and changes based on feedback from the client, the SEO agency and any further issues found via the bug tracking app.
We do a final QA of the full site prior to launch and get that all-important final client sign-off!
12. Launch (1 day)
We go live!
13. Post Launch Checks (1 – 2 days)
Additional time to fix any issues found after launch.
14. CMS Training (1 – 2 days)
A final training session for anyone on the client team who needs to get up to speed with the back-end of the new website and how to manage the content and update it in the future.
Website design & build process: considerations as a client
Earlier I mentioned things that affect the length of the project and a few of these directly relate to the client themselves.
When working with us at Strafe Creative, we give clients clear timelines and timeframes in which to give approvals and feedback to keep the project on track. This time really does add up – a couple of rounds of amends and feedback can easily add 5 or 6 days to a project length.
When agreeing on timelines, it’s also important to seriously consider who is the decision-maker internally. Naturally, in larger organisations, you might have managers and senior team members to take into account, so it’s important we understand your chain of approvals and take that into account in the feedback timelines.
Coupled with the same process from a 3rd party SEO agency, you can see how those projects are a couple of months longer.
So there you have it…
A clear, honest and realistic timeline for designing and building a conversion-led website.
Every agency or company has a different process, however, you’ll notice ours is detailed and methodical. We really see the value in this approach and have many success stories to our name. Read some of our case studies here.
If these timelines make total sense to you and you’re ready for a new website design and build then we are the agency for you. Fill in our Project Planner below and let’s chat 👇 🙌