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Get Your Web Site Live Quickly

Frequently, as part of a web design proposal I will be asked, in addition to the costs, about the schedule for the project. How long will it take?

What are the factors that influence how long it takes for a web site to go live? Are there ways to be more efficient to get your new web site launched more quickly? What slows the process down and more importantly, how can you help speed it up?

7 factors that can affect how long it takes to design, develop and launch a web site, and tips on how to assist your web team.

1. The extent of revisions and options in the design phase

For nearly every web design project we work on, we give the client options for the look & feel, the user interface and many of details that make up the design of the site. These may include variations on layout, color, typography, imagery, navigational arrangement and more. Our standard contract includes three rounds of revisions. But how drastic those revisions are will factor into how long the different iterations and options take us to mockup.

For example, we may show option 1, 2 and 3 for the web site. The client chooses option 1 but just requests a small adjustment to the color. In this case, it’s a very fast for us to turn out the next round of options. Now consider an alternative where the client likes parts of each design, yet also has things she doesn’t like in any of them. Exploring and building out these additional options will take more time.

The more we can research up front what the client is looking for, the more smoothly the design phase will go. Also, we love it when we hit the nail on the head the first time for clients, and it makes them feel at ease with us.

Tip: Take the time at the beginning to share ideas about what you like and dislike about your own site and other sites before you get started. Be specific.

2. The complexity of the development tasks

Once the site design is approved, there is variability in how complex the development requirements are. We like to automate a lot features for our clients to make everything as easy as possible. But this can take extra time. For example, we might pull in blog posts to another part of the site based on tags or categories. We might automate postings between a blog and social media. By contrast, we’ve created sites that were very straightforward and can go from design approval thru to live site very quickly.

You are not a web expert and you may not understand what is a big deal and what can be done very quickly. There may be a sequence of development tasks that may need to go in a certain order, but other times thing can be worked on simultaneously to speed up the process.

Tip: Get an understanding from your web developer about how long things take and the sequencing of tasks.

3. The complexity of the design

When you look at some web sites, and it’s clear that nearly every page has the same structure. NewEnglandCleanEnergy.com is an example of a simple site we designed that uses limited types of page styles.

On the other hand, some sites may have different layout and navigational elements and styles on different areas of the site. ClaimVantage.com is an example of web design that uses many different layouts to show different content. Compare how the business lines page looks compared to the case studies, the features, the about us, or the blog, etc. Both sites have similar amounts of content, but how they are displayed is much more variable in ClaimVantage.com

Tip: Start looking at web sites and see whether it’s important that each page or section have a unique feel or not.

4. Do we have all the content?

Web content doesn’t just mysteriously appear, it must be created.

This is a big stumbling block for many clients. And whether the client creates it or we do, it needs to developed, scrutinized, optimized, etc. before it’s ready to go live. Many underestimate what’s required of this step and delays occur.

Tip: There are no shortcuts, don’t wait until the content is holding everything up.

5. Is someone dedicated to moving the web design project forward?

When it’s time for an organization to re-do their web site, it can suddenly feel like a second job for whoever is in charge of the project. When the site is done, they can go back to their real duties. And honestly, those real duties never went away during the web design project and they can often feel much more pressing that getting a new web site complete.

It’s most difficult when we don’t know who to talk with about missing information or  approvals. It’s also difficult when we get mixed and conflicting feedback on mockups or options. Setting up clear roles for shepherding the project forward and getting finalized (unified) approvals is key.

Tip: Don’t blast conflicting feedback to the designer. Assign one person to spearhead the project and compile feedback.

6. Create a project schedule

When prospects ask us about how long it will take for a web site to be ready, it can be just out of curiosity, or it can be because they have a specific hard deadline such as a key presentation, tradeshow, etc.

Without exception, a project without deadlines will go slower than a project that is planned out with milestones and agreed upon deadlines. It is often these deadlines that push people to focus and make a final decision, search their archives for content, or decide that getting that testimonial should not hold up the entire web site.

Tip: Request that your web designer put together a project schedule and keep the project moving forward by meeting your own deadlines.

7. Is the domain and host ready?

The domain name and hosting platform (with current logins) should be at the ready. We need access to the web hosting account to install WordPress and get the files for the site prepared. If site the being built on a new hosting account, before we launch we need access to the domain name to update the DNS record.

Yup, there have been times when a site is ready to go live but no one can find the password to update the name servers to make the DNS change.

Tip: Keep all these logins in one central place so they are at your fingertips. Pro Tip: Try them out in advance to see if the usernames and passwords actually work!

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