From time to time, we find ourselves having the following conversation with a new client:
Torx: “Alright… Your new website project estimate is complete and ready for your review. The total estimated project cost will be one million dollars and 52 cents.”
Client: “That seems very reasonable. How long will it take to complete this project?”
Torx: “There is nothing too incredibly complicated about your new website, and it seems like this will be a pretty straightforward project for us. We’re probably looking at roughly 3 months from start to finish.”
Client: “Whoa…. hold up there, brah! We need our new site to be 100% complete and ready to launch in 2 weeks!”
And then we explain all the different steps of the design and development process and why it takes so long to build a website. Different agencies have different processes, but what follows is the general outline that we implement when a building a new site:
Before any “real” work begins, we always make sure both parties have signed a project agreement. We also request a certain percentage of the total project cost to be paid upfront. The “real” work begins immediately after these two items have been executed. Motivated clients sign the agreement quickly, while others sometimes take a few weeks to get that paperwork sorted out.
Sitemap and wireframe mock-ups are necessary before any actual design work begins. A sitemap shows the relationships between the site’s numerous pages, while wireframe mock-ups show a bare-bones visual representation of pages’ layouts and structure. At this stage of the project it is essential for multiple conversations (sometimes meetings) to take place, so that all parties are on the same page moving forward. This takes time, of course… and there are almost always multiple rounds of revisions before the sitemap and wireframes are finalized.
This is the part of a project were we open Photoshop and start designing what the final website will actually look like. This process consists of much, much more than just slapping a business’s logo on a pre-made theme or template layout. We build all of our designs and layouts by hand, and no two websites will end up looking the same. More often than not, we also provide multiple designs from which our clients would select their favorite.
Most client-requested revisions happen during this stage of the project. Everyone involved wants to make sure we have the most kick-ass website design before we start programming the new site. The back-and-forth revision process is completely healthy… but as you might guess, numerous revisions result in a longer project timeline.
Now it’s time to start programming, which is the process of transforming “flat” Photoshop designs into a fully-functional working website. We usually start by building the new site’s Home page, and then we’ll move on to the various other pages that make up the site. We’ll need to set aside some time to make sure the new site is “responsive”, and that it looks great and works optimally on devices with smaller screens – tablets and mobile devices.
This is also the part of the process where all the programming is completed for the site’s extra “bells and whistles”, such as ecommerce functionality, individual webpages with unique business requirements, and even completely customized content management systems. All this programming ain’t like dusting crops, boy. Without precise calculations we could end up with a very broken website.
Don’t let anyone tell you any differently…. Every new website needs to be thoroughly tested before it gets launched. After a round (or two) of testing, we also set aside time to test using specific web browsers, as well a variety of tablet and mobile devices. We always find items that need to be fixed and tweaked, and we want to make sure we give ourselves enough time to properly troubleshoot any last-minute “gotchas” before we get the green light to launch.
Regardless of a website project’s size or scope, the same process above is used. Sticking to this process requires time, but it’s absolutely necessary if the end product is to exceed our clients’ expectations. Throughout the entire process, we routinely ask for feedback and approval to continue to the appropriate next steps. Sometimes we receive quick responses… sometimes, not so much. Delayed communication from our clients can often result in a project’s timeline being extended from its original date.
Lastly, we always have multiple projects in production at the same time. While we can’t dedicate 40 hours a week to any one project, we always try to schedule fairly with regard to our clients’ timelines.
If you have any questions about our process, or if you’re interested in hiring us for an upcoming website project, please fill out the short form below.
About the author:
Partner, Director of Development
Christopher is the Director of Development and one of the partners at Torx. In addition to keeping Torx's Richmond office firing on all cylinders, he can often be found deep in the trenches, building custom content management systems and WordPress-powered websites. He still remembers how to write Basic computer programs on Apple IIs and Commodore 64s.