If you’re about to embark on building your own website, take a minute to stop and assess what your goals are for the website. Consider the following:
- What purpose does your website serve for your business?
- What features does your website need to effectively market and sell your product or service?
- What content, images, video etc. assets do you already have vs. need to create?
- How much time are you prepared to spend building your website?
Here at Growth Labs, building websites is just one of the many things that we do, and while each client is different, we are always seeking to maximize our efficiency when delivering a quality site in a reasonable timeframe. Recently, we worked with one of our clients to re-build their existing website from the ground-up, without touching the content that they already had prepared on their old website.
As you decide whether to work with a design agency or build your own website, it’s important to understand both the amount of time, as well as the steps that go into the process. For our client, we put in a grand total of 79 hours of work to create the finished a functional Wordpress Template website, without even touching the content! Here’s a breakdown for your budget, time, and knowledge of what actually goes into building a website that drives traffic AND conversions:
Internal & External Communication: 6.56 hours
Your website should run like a well-oiled machine and this requires coordination on behalf of all hands involved in building your site. In the case of our example website, over the course of the project, we put in just over 3 hours between meetings both with our client and within our team to proceed both efficiently and comprehensively. This included an initial meeting with our client to determine the scope and demands of the website. Then, we held several meetings throughout the development process both within our team to strategize and task out parts of the website build to different team members, as well as with our client to collaborate and provide space for feedback during our progress.
Long and pointless meetings are never a good idea, however, in order to get things right the first time as much as possible, clear communication is key. Prior to any meetings with a design agency and within your team, the most important thing is to consider your goals and plan out what you want from your website. Even if you’re thinking to build your website solo, planning, organization, and research are crucial to smooth execution and a satisfactory final product.
Wireframing: 3.42 hours
A website wireframe acts as a blueprint for how your website will both function and look. Before even starting to build our client’s website, we needed to agree on a sitemap for how all the pages of the website connect to one another. We took our notes from our initial meeting about our client’s proposed sitemap, plus the basics of their previous website, and went to wireframe, or create a skeleton of each page of their new website. This included not only the layout of each page but also a starting look at the functionality and modules that would ideally be present: images, videos, calendars, forms, buttons, shopping carts etc.
While you might already have an idea of some of the basic pages that will go on your site, it’s crucial to create a sitemap that will optimize the flow of your website visitors and prevent them from clicking or bouncing away from your site. Wireframing is an important step to gather your thoughts and create a strategy for an effective, clean website for your business. It will also save you time in the design and building stages if you already have the roadmap and all that thinking out of the way.
Homepage Design: 3.76 hours
In the case of our client’s website, representing a fitness gym, the homepage needed to be particularly eye-catching to communicate the value to customers of its physical space, offerings, and unique community. The client’s wishes for the homepage included lots of images to directly show the active use of the gym and the sitemap required the homepage to branch to several different pages, including information on the two gym locations. Even though our client already had a fully functional website and homepage, for our rebuild, we went back and forth several times to make sure they were satisfied with the homepage before moving forward with the wireframes to start building.
As the heart of your website, your homepage design acts a general template for the rest of your site when it comes to the themes, navigation, layout, and communication of your core brand message. Before moving on to the design of the infinite number of pages that will be part of your website, focus on perfecting your homepage.
Building & Launching the Site: 34.41 hours
Yes you read that number correctly - almost half of the total hours we spent on all these steps went into the actual building and secure launching of our client’s site. Even with the content already created, this step still took so long because of the attention-to-detail required to ensure that not only was the design flawless but also the website was fully functional. Some of the aspects of a website to consider when allotting time to build include:
- Building all templates
- Designing and configuring all modules
- Adding all media assets
- Configuring navigation
- Embedding all links and interconnecting within website
- Testing all functionality
Launching also required that we checked the correct hosting configuration for the website to optimize speed, secure backups, and ensure the content delivery network is connected to your proper domain. Post-launch we then needed to test everything in its live form and double check that any back-ups were fully activated.
Mobile Optimization: 0.75 hours
Since 2015, the number of Google searches conducted on mobile devices surpassed that of desktop searches and given the active target audience for our client’s website, optimizing for mobile was a necessity. To make sure our rebuilt site was mobile optimized, we ensured that the specifications were optimized for mobile devices. Many templates specify if they have responsive design to adapt to various screen sizes. Plus, when designing aspects of the site like buttons, forms, and text, we remained conscious of how big or small these would appear on a smartphone. Although mobile optimization does not take too much time in the scheme of your entire website, it is an important step of any website building process in the 21st century!
Feedback & Fixes: 3.91 hours
Despite all of the planning and effort before and during the actual website build, we still spent several hours making improvements after the site went live. Based on the almost 4 hours in our time breakdown for this project, we spent a decent amount of time reviewing the site both independently and alongside our client to make sure it met all their needs and all functionality was 100%. While some aspects of the site had errors, others just didn’t seem right, despite all of our prior planning.
In general, a website requires constant maintenance and updates as your business evolves alongside the world of web design. Whether working with an agency or building your own site, be prepared to spend several hours of your time and financial budget on the back-and-forth with your agency or your website to get everything right.
Where did the other 26.19 hours of our total come from? While not necessary for all websites, these steps were requested by our client.
Social Media: 5.11 hours
The client in this circumstance asked if we could set up their social media pages, based on their different operating locations. This required updating the current pages, creating new ones, and also updating all pages with the branding that was used with the new website. We also ensured that the social media pages were properly linked to the new website.
For your website building process, it’s best to include at least some time in your planning for your social media strategy and pages. However, having active social media pages does not excuse a lack of a website or poor website development and design when it comes to customer engagement. Use your social media pages to complement your website, to start driving visitors to your beautifully designed site, and to share all the awesome information that you’ve written there!
Site Migration Cleanup: 11.32 hours
Because we were rebuilding our client’s previous site, a decent amount of work went into making sure that making sure that everything was migrated correctly. This required checking images, some search engine optimization, and a whole lot of link redirecting. We used the Wordpress plugin, Redirection, which was a great help in bulk redirecting links from their old URLs to new URLs on the new site.
Translation: 9.76 hours
Given our client’s location in Prague with a large English-speaking clientbase, it was a necessity that their website is fully functional and translated in English and Czech. Although a lot of the content was already translated, with a new sitemap and constant evolutions in the text, our content team went through with a detailed eye to make sure everything was both translated, and translated accurately in both English and Czech.
There’s a lot that goes into building website, whether it’s the number of steps or the number of hours. No matter whether you are committing your time and energy to either building a site yourself or seeking out a design agency to do it for you, make sure to first do an inventory of what you already have by way of content and then make a concrete plan of your website and what it needs to offer your target audience. With this strategy, in 79 hours, we were able to build a fully functional, sleekly designed website that was ready to convert customers for our client!
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