Six Steps to Updating Your Website - Step Four

We’re moving nicely through our six step guide to updating your website and approaching the home stretch. Step Three dealt with the thorny issue of cost and budgets when commissioning a new website, or upgrading an existing site.

This week, we’ll look at timing and how long it could take to create or upgrade your website.

That’s Not My Day Job

Delivering a new website isn't typically part of anyone’s day job, unless you work for a digital agency and some marketing managers and directors may only experience a handful of website launches during their career.

Leading a project you have so little experience of can be challenging, particularly if you are expected to keep control of timings but in this post we will examine your options to estimate timings and deliver your website project on time.

Size Matters

It goes without saying that the size and complexity of your website will affect its delivery time, but you may be surprised to learn that the vast majority of website features, e.g. the ability to add text, images, video, take payments and allow social media sharing can be included by adding existing plug-ins.

Be aware however - if you have very common website features, like basic contact forms, text and an image gallery, these should be quick and easy to create. But if you require something more bespoke, then this will take more time.

So, what can you do to take control and see your website go live when you need it to?

Practical Considerations

Here are some practical things to consider that we’ve found invaluable in keeping website delivery dates under control.

First of all, accept that trying to complete your website project in one fell swoop is not only risky, but impractical for even the most seasoned digital pros. Breaking down your requirements into smaller bite-sized chunks will put you in control of the work.

Consider what your minimum viable website product should be and traffic light the requirements. Separate these into three simple camps: 'Needed', 'Nice to have' and 'Luxury'.

Hold weekly meetings and when work is completed, push for 'Nice to have' features to be moved into the 'Needed' column. If you need to move features from the 'Needed' column to 'Nice to have' to meet your deadline, then plan in advance and have a good idea of what these could be.

Key Timing Factors

These are some common key factors in determining how long your website project will take:

  • Are you planning for a large or small website? If unclear, consider seeking independent professional advice.
  • Define how you will complete the work. There are literally thousands of options and configurations to choose from. Ask your team to create a shortlist of options using a variety of technologies, e.g. Drupal v WordPress. You not only need to know you are choosing the best solutions for your needs, not choosing what your agency wants you to use.
  • Identify your minimum viable product and be realistic about what is achievable.
    Set milestones and review delivery in chunks, continually communicating and reviewing what can be added or removed, thus giving you room to adjust requirements mid-project to protect your launch date.
  • Understand that websites are best seen as organic creations, which can be updated on an ongoing basis.

How long will it take to update my website?

Website Timings Ready Reckoner

Here's a quick frame of reference for some average website delivery times:

  • Small website or 'microsite' of approx. 20 simple pages: 1-4 weeks.
    Medium-sized website with basic customisation, ecommerce, approx. 50 pages and / or blog: 1-2 months.
  • Large website with significant customisation, ecommerce, 500 webpages and blog: 3-5 months.
  • Larger websites (substantial customisation, integration with other services, thousands of pages, multiple services or multi-brand) require complex teams with many skills. We have worked on such websites that have taken over 12 months.

Time is Precious

Timing is crucial to the success of your project and we hope this blog has given you some really practical ideas to keep control of your delivery dates and expectations.

Next Week: We’ll be examining a relatively overlooked element of website projects – precluding the associated risks.

For help building a website upgrade strategy, see our client work