By Chris Manley, CEO, Engenius
Most of us start the year with goals: those things we hope to accomplish between New Year’s parties. For some, it’s a company mandate. For some, it’s self-driven. No matter the root of your goals, the calendar indicates that we’re halfway to the deadline.
I’ve heard from several folks who said they want a new website before 2019. One of them said, “Yeah — I’ll start looking into it in the fall.” While his intentions were good, his timeline was anything but.
Understanding how long it takes to complete a project is vital to setting deadlines for your goals. Over the years, I’ve often had conversations with executives who believe a professional, high-quality website can be created in three or four weeks. While that may be true in some situations, my experience of watching and being a part of hundreds of website builds tells me it is a misguided assumption. There are several key things to consider when sketching out your new website timeline:
What is the caliber of website you are expecting? Do you want it to be a strategic marketing vehicle that generates new business leads and reassures prospective customers? Strategy takes time to develop if it is based on data. Poring over analytics reports, potential keywords to employ, and user data is not an overnight task. Do you desire quality content? Great copywriters can work quickly — but if they don’t have time to properly research your brand and your industry, the words on the page may not motivate customers to buy from you.
Great websites are built using a proven process. In fact, the process my company uses has undergone a decade of refinement and now has more than 150 steps to ensure that every website produced achieves a minimum level of quality. High-quality websites that achieve revenue-based results are not built in a day.
How much preparation have you given to the process? Have you considered a list of competitor websites that appear to be successful? Have you taken time to understand your own brand enough to articulate it well to a marketing firm? Have you documented your sales process and how you hope to receive leads from your new website?
It is not vital to do all of these things before talking to a web-design firm; in fact, they may be able to help walk you through answering these questions. It is, however, important to realize that answering these questions takes time.
How much time and what level of priority can you devote to your new website? If you are thinking you can hand a pile of paper to your website company and walk away, you are mistaken. In our modern world, your website is the hub of your entire marketing strategy. Devoting time to scheduled review checkpoints with your website team will determine the success of the project.
Only you work in your business day-in and day-out, meeting with customers, understanding the needs of those you work with. Your website team should be experts in developing great websites — but you cannot expect them to know every nuance of your company, your brand, and your approach to sales and marketing. Put succinctly: You must make time to be available to your website team throughout the process.
Determining how much time you have to devote to the website-build process is vital for setting your own expectations. If you are going to let weeks elapse between giving content, reviewing, and giving feedback and approval to your website team, then expect the project to last awhile. If you have the flexibility to review and give approval within two days, expect the project to move along at a more normal pace.
My experience tells me that a great modern website takes about three months to build, from the day the contract is signed to the day it launches — if everything is optimal, the client doesn’t take a vacation in the middle of the project, and the client responds within two business days to all requests. Because many clients have multiple priorities to juggle and the new website is merely one of them, most great website projects take between four and five months to realistically get from contract to launch.
Is a new website a goal you set for 2018? If launching before the ball drops on New Year’s is a priority, now is the time to get your ducks in a row and begin the process. Waiting until fall will lead to one of two things: sacrificing quality or missing your deadline.
Chris Manley is the CEO of Engenius, a marketing firm specializing in helping businesses navigate digital marketing through strategic web design, search optimization, and digital advertising. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting www.engeniusweb.com.