‘How long will it take to build my website?’

When I sit down with potential clients this is the question which they inevitably ask. In the early days of Mara Communications I would try to estimate a timeframe based on the size and complexity of the website, taking into account my current workload. As I run my own business and don’t outsource any work, I have a realistic grasp on how much work I can handle at any given time. If I am at capacity I will not take on new work.

‘So you can confirm a timeframe for me then?’

‘Hold your horses – not yet!’

The above factors are certainly important to keep in mind. Additionally there are other unknowns that have to be considered such as holidays, health, birthdays, celebrations and so on. Basically my early estimations didn’t factor in that ‘life sometimes just happens!’ for both me and my clients!

‘You must be getting close now?’

Let me see, we have the specifications for the job, an acceptance that ‘life sometimes just happens’ and a solid understanding of my own capacity. Surely an accurate timeframe is within our reach?

‘Yes?’

‘No.’

In my experience the x-factor is the actual client.

While I have expertise in creating websites, I lack the particular industry knowledge of my clients. My portfolio includes diverse areas including: fashion, hospitality, interior styling and dental care.

To achieve this I need my clients to provide me with their content – their logo, text regarding their business and images they would like to use. If my clients don’t have these elements ready then the website will take longer. I can only do so much without content. My clients need to invest their time working out what they want before I can start creating their website vision.

I have had some websites take over a year from start to finish. Sometimes that is just the process. Was it the timeframe that was originally discussed and agreed upon? Probably not. As I have said ’life sometimes happens’ and as long as both parties are on the same page and working towards the end result, the website will be realised.

In contrast, I was contacted by a current client a couple of weeks ago who needed a new website created for a different business. I met her the following Tuesday and the site launched on the Friday evening! The whole process took less than 2 weeks. How did that happen? My client was motivated, proactive and very clear on what she wanted. When we met I listened to her and immediately started forming ideas about how I would approach the site. I had the capacity to spend considerable time on it, she had all the content ready to go and we communicated daily if not every few hours. It was an intense – and highly satisfying – four days. It proved to me that a high quality and attractive site could be achieved in a short period of time when all the factors come together.

Would I want every job to be like this one? Probably not. I believe it was the exception rather than the rule. What was thrilling was to realise what I am capable of when the planets align and all parties are on the same page.

’So, back to my original question, how long will it take to build my website?’

Imagine your website is a cake, you need the recipe and ingredients before you begin. Have a clear vision what you want to achieve through your website. Prepare your logo, images and text in advance, and be responsive to your web designer when they seek feedback and clarification.

‘Are you ready to begin?’