Understanding the timeline of a web development project

Aug 18, 2023

Embarking on a web development project is often as exciting as it is daunting. Whether it’s for a personal blog, a small business website, or a large-scale e-commerce platform, there are always so many things to think about. One question we can almost guarantee we will be asked is, “How long will the project take?” Honestly, whilst we strive to be as insightful as possible at the beginning of all projects, it is almost impossible to answer this question completely accurately. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, the answer lies within a combination of several key factors:

Project scope and complexity
The complexity of the project and the scope of work involved are clearly vital factors in estimating the time a web development project will take. A more simple brochure website with a few pages and basic functionality will naturally require less time compared to a complex e-commerce platform with extensive features like user registration, payment gateways, and inventory management. Clearly defining the scope of the project and identifying the required functionality will help set realistic expectations for the development timeline.

The design phase is crucial in creating an aesthetically appealing website that aligns with the brand image and goals. That is, if there is a brand in place. If a brand is being created in conjunction with a development project this will clearly impose additional timings. Developing a visually engaging UI requires time and effort, and inevitably will involve a couple of collaborative iterations.

Sign-off procedures
It goes without saying that it is very unlikely that sign off can be given the same day that a piece of work is delivered. However the time that it does take to receive feedback and/or sign off is the main factor that will determine the speed of a project. For example if the project lead has autonomy to approve work instantly, then the project will run much quicker than a sign off process that involves numerous stakeholders. If those stakeholders only meet once a month and it is impossible to have their eyes on the project in between those meetings, then that needs to be factored into the project timeline.

Content preparation
Developing a functional website goes beyond the design and build of the site. Content preparation, including text, images, videos, and other media assets, is an integral part of the web development process. It is very likely that, with a new website comes new content. Or at the very least updated content. Are there available team members with capacity to create / update copy? Is there relevant imagery available or does a photographer need to be sought & briefed? No matter what level of engagement is needed in the supply of up to date copy and imagery, what we can guarantee is that it often takes longer than people expect!

Training and content population
Once the website is built and the content is ready, it is time for the site to be populated. This will first involve some training on how to use the CMS. Then the speed of populating the site will depend on how many people this falls to and also, of course, the size of the site. It is likely that once the site is populated, there will then be some content ‘snagging.’

Testing and Quality Assurance
Needless to say, once the site is fully populated, thorough testing across different devices and browsers will be conducted. Conducting usability tests and gathering feedback from users can also extend the project timeline, but these steps are vital for delivering a polished, user-friendly site.

Project Management and Communication
Clear communication between stakeholders, including the development team and the client, play a vital role in adhering to the project timeline. Regular meetings, progress updates, and timely feedback help maintain project momentum and ensure that any potential roadblocks are addressed promptly.

As an agency we conduct agile projects. This means that whilst we will always put a project timeline in place with every intention of adhering to it, we are also realists and know that life will likely put barriers in the way of rigidly sticking to any meticulously planned schedule. This is why we really do find it almost impossible to answer the ‘how long will this take’ question, although if you wanted to force our hand, we would say around 3 months. Ish.