How long does it take to create a new website?

Thought experiment.

How long does it take to create a new website?

You’re right. It’s a stupid question.
Like the proverbial ‘piece of string’.
OK, let’s define it a bit better.
Suppose you first have to clarify the website’s strategy and identify its target audience.
Suppose that the output of that process is a plan for a brochureware-type site of about 250 pages.
Imagine each page contains 500 words (more-or-less) and 1 image. All this content needs to be compiled from existing online & offline media, with heavy editing required.
As that work progresses, a full design cycle must begin – from organising the sites structure to deciding on colours and imagery.
Following that, the HTML templates are created and integrated into a Content Management System. Content is then inserted and formatted.
Finally, everything must be tested, signed off and made ready for golive.

So how long did that take?

Here’s my guess. 5 months minimum.
Seems a long time doesn’t it? Yet, experience indicates that is the time frame we are dealing with.
For some this might seem intolerably long. Can it not happen faster?
Well, yes it can . . . if you work in a small organisation with lots of skilled people, loads of money, huge commitment and no distractions – you can probably do it faster.
But let’s not kid ourselves.

So why does it take so long?

Let’s look at 2 elements.


For 1 person to rewrite, edit and get sign-off on a single page of the type described, can take up to 4 hours. (And that’s a conservative estimate.)
Do the math. It adds up to 26 man-weeks for 250 pages. Half a year right there.
Even if we assume corners can be cut, we are still talking about several months of work.


This site is being made from scratch.
It needs an Information Architecture, as well as wireframes and visual designs for at least 3 (probably more) template types. For example, a homepage, a gallery page and a standard content page.
Several weeks of work there too.
Sure, some activities can occur concurrently. But it all adds up.
And guess what. We made loads of assumptions to keep time to a minimum. For example, we assumed:
  • A project team is in place, including a project manager, designer, content writer, code developer & technical administrator.
  • Everyone has all the skills needed to implement a website of the type described
  • The web infrastructure and all technical solutions have already been chosen.
  • There are no finicky security, technology integration or other issues to handle.
  • Everything goes smoothly.
The lesson is time.
Making a website takes time. So plan for it.


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