How Much of YOUR Time Is Needed When Building a New Website?


How much of YOUR time is needed when building a new website

How much time will I need to put in and how much work will I need to do when building a new website

You’re considering developing a new website for your organization. 

You’re searching for a website development partner to help you. 

And you’re wondering how much of your time will be needed once you start.

In this article, we’ll address the common issues that can add to – and save – your time as you work with a website developer to build your new website. After reading this article, you’ll be more informed about what a project entails, where your time is needed most, and proper preparation can you save time.

Who this guide was developed for:

Every website project is unique and different and presents unique challenges. This guide was created to address a website that an average small to mid-sized business or organization would need. Typically between 10-30 pages and without advanced features like e-commerce or advanced custom programming.

Overview – Why your time is important

The main goal of your website is to help your target audience(s) find what they are looking for quickly. This can be product or service information, pricing, contact information, or other things important to their needs.

The goal of your website may be informational only. Or it may be to drive an action like a form submission, request for a quote, product purchase, or appointment booking.

In each case, the easier the website is for your target audience to use, the more likely it will be used how you envisioned.

And the more valuable and relevant the information on the website, the more likely the folks who act will be better interested and prepared to engage with your organization or do business with your company.

What you know matters – The empty mansion syndrome.

Any website developer you work with will be well-versed in how to build website structures. But effective websites – meaningful and valuable websites – are more than just structures. The structures are nice, but empty buildings are not very welcoming.

The empty mansion syndrome is thinking of your website like a house. A contractor can build an amazing structure will walls, roofs, doors, and windows. They can even add paint and siding to make it look beautiful from the outside. 

But if the inside is empty, how welcoming and useful is it?

That house needs furniture. It needs fixtures. It needs flooring, lighting, paint, etc.  Without those things, you’re left with an empty mansion.

Many websites suffer from empty mansion syndrome.  The graphics and layouts are nice. The user experience is important for sure. Proper layouts and menus will help folks navigate to pages faster. 

But what’s inside those pages will determine how valuable their time spent on your website is. 

What’s on those pages is called ‘content’ in the website world, and it’s the key to connections, interactions, and website success.

That content will usually not come from your website development partner. It will come from your organization. 

And that’s where you – and your time – become important.

A typical website development process

First, it’s good to know what the typical website development process loos like. 

The basic steps of any website development process and an estimated allowance of time for each

  • Discovery – the kickoff meeting to explore features, functions, and goals; “what does success look like?” and the development plan that comes from it.
    • Allow 1-2 weeks
  • Flowchart – Mapping the pages and navigation with the user in mind
    • Allow 1-2 weeks
  • Content Audit – Examining what is available and needed for the pages outlined in the content flowchart.
    • Will vary depending on content needs
  • Interface Design – Developing the look and feel of the website
    • Allow 2-4 weeks
  • Content Creation – Editing existing copy, developing new copy, and collecting or creating photos, videos, and documents.
    • Will vary depending on content needs
  • Programming – Includes integrating the content management system that will drive the site and the special features, functions, and processes needed to make the website work properly.
    • Allow 1 – 2 months
  • Content Review – The editing phase of the website. Reviewing grammar, punctuation, tense, links, forms, and the overall completeness of the information on the website.
    • Allow 2-3 weeks
  • Technical Review – Ensuring the website behaves as it should on multiple devices, browsers, and operating systems. Includes testing form entries, e-commerce activity, and advanced features and programming.
    • Allow 1-2 weeks
  • Site Launch – Publishing the website for the world to see and use.

In each of the steps above, your time will be needed. Some will require more than others. Let’s examine why your time is needed in each phase and how you and your website partner can make your time most efficient and productive.

How much of your time is needed for each of the development phases

Each phase of the website process is important to the success of your project. However, not each project phase requires the same amount of time and input from you. 

Here’s a look at how you can best prepare to participate in a meaningful and efficient way for each stage:

Discovery Phase

  • Overview: This is the most important part of your participation in the website development process.  This is where your website development partner learns about your organization, goals, and priorities and maps out the plan for success.
  • How much time you’ll need: The answer is always “it depends.” It depends on how complex the website is, how large the organization is, how robust it will be, etc.  You’ll want to dedicate no less than 90 minutes to a website developer for a small business website. This could increase to a full day or even multiple days depending on the project’s complexity and your company’s size.
  • What does success look like?: A successful website discovery process will result in your website developer asking meaningful, detailed questions and leaving feeling connected to your organization and better understanding your goals and priorities. 

Flowchart Phase

  • Overview: A flowchart is the blueprint of your pages and menu organization. How pages are grouped on your website and the structure will help users navigate with the greatest of ease.
  • What does it typically look like?: A flowchart will have pages organized by relationships to one another and connected logically and meaningfully. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet with words and lines or as complex as color-coded shapes, diagrams, and feature/function notes and illustrations. Some website flowchart examples are below.
  • Why the flowchart process is important: Just as a contractor needs a blueprint and set of plans to build a house, the website developer will use the flowchart to build the website structure. While websites can always be edited and expanded, the flowchart and development blueprint will help you and your developer understand the following:
    • What is being built and why
    • How many pages are being developed initially
    • What features or functionality are needed 
    • What content will be needed
    • Help decrease “feature creep” and programming changes
  • How much of your time will this take: Your time in the flowchart process will involve reviewing the work done by your developer. Take time to review the document to ensure that the needs you have are being met. This typically involves a few back-and-forth conversations. You’ll typically spend anywhere from 30 minutes to a day’s worth of time going back and forth with your developer on flowchart details.
  • To save time later on: All programming and developing work done by the website developer will stem from the flowchart. It’s important to take the time needed to ensure you have what you need in the document and that you and your developer agree on what’s being built. 

Website Flowchart Examples

Content Audit Phase

  • Overview: You and your team will likely do this exercise, not the website developer. This is the exercise of reviewing what you currently have for materials and content for each area on the flowchart. From this activity, you can decide what is done, what needs to be edited or expanded, and what is needed new.
  • What to think about: The customer and target audiences for your website. What do they want to see? What do they need to see? What do you wish they knew? What do they need to know to decide, create an appointment, or feel comfortable and confident doing business with your organization?
  • What should you audit?
    • Existing website pages, copy, and photos
    • Any documents and brochures
    • Any materials you’ve used to sell, pitch, educate, or communicate about your business to an outside audience
  • How much of your time will this take?: Again, this depends on how thorough you are with your existing materials and how much ‘stuff’ you must comb through. 
  • Why this is important: It’s common to look at the website as a new project, starting from scratch. However, in most cases, your organization is not new. Nor is the task of communicating with outside audiences. Chances are you have created materials in the past that can serve as a starting point for some of the content you’ll need on your website. 
  • What is the goal: The audit aims to understand better what you have and need. Following the audit, you can prioritize your new content creation and editing tasks.

Content Creation Phase

  • Overview: This phase typically will be in collaboration with your website developer. The goal is to ‘furnish the mansion’ – to have meaningful content for each page you’ll have on the new site.
  • How much of your time will this take? The answer is – surprise – it depends. Among all other phases in the development process, this phase will most likely take the most time. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Expect to invest at least 40 hours over two to three months to the content process. This will include meetings, audits, finding photos, creating outlines, and working on writing, reviewing, or editing documents.
  • Shared Content Folders:  Creating shared folders for collaboration between you, your team, and your website developer will enable a more efficient content process. (Example: Google Drive, Dropbox, etc) Relying on email exchanges only for content sharing and planning will lead to confusion and a greater chance of missed content.
  • How to save time: 
    • Outlines and bullets will be your friend. Use them. Don’t struggle with trying to write complete narratives at first pass. And don’t worry about being perfect. Getting bullets and outlines together for what you want on each page will help in a few ways;
      • It will help you delegate by providing direction to others
      • It will help your developer create a copy from the outlines you create
      • It will help you get through the content needs faster, enabling you to add more detail to higher-priority pages.
    • Use a transcription service: Most folks are more comfortable talking than writing. Recording your thoughts or interviews with others in your company is a great way to get detailed thoughts and information will less effort than writing. Transcription services like can deliver written transcripts in 24 hours. Transcripts can then be edited and optimized for web use.
    • Hire an intern or contract writer: Getting the information out of people’s heads is a great way to create meaningful content. Hire someone to do this for you. 
    • Have the web developer write the content: Often, web developers have employees or relationships with content writers that can help. However, before getting the website quote, you must express your desire for this option. This will add cost to your proposal and is not a normal piece of a website developer’s proposal.

Interface Phase

  • Overview: This is the creation of the look and feel of your website. It will also include the creation of wireframes or the mockup of how content will be displayed on the various pages of your website.
  • How much of your time will this take: Most of the time involved in this phase will be spent by the developer creating concepts for you to review. During this phase, your time will be spent reviewing the work provided, answering clarifying questions from the developer, and providing feedback.
  • How to save time for both you and the developer: There are a few ways you can shorten the design time during the interface phase:
  • Know what you like: Developers love input. Search the web for websites with components you like, such as how menus function, pages look, images and videos are used, and headers and footers function.  Having a list of things you like and are inspired by is helpful for the designer to see what you’re after.
  • Be specific, though: “I like this website” will not advance your cause and only create confusion. Be more specific when you share opinions and inspirations with your developer. “I like the feel of the header on this site” or “I like the use of video as a feature on the homepage” are helpful nuggets to work from.

Programming Phase

  • Overview: This is the phase where your work with the website developer becomes a website. The developer will utilize a content management system and integrate the interface, features, and pay menu concepts you’ve approved.
  • How much of your time will this take: Take a breath. Outside of some clarifying questions from your developer, this phase will require very little of your time. The exceptions are advanced functionality like data integrations, product catalogs, online payments, external software integrations, etc., requiring extra work or input from your organization.

Content Review / Technical Review Phase

  • Overview: Hey, look at that; you’re almost there!  This phase includes all hands on deck to review elements like:
    • Grammar and spelling
    • Use of complete sentences
    • Review of factual errors or missing information
    • Testing online forms to ensure the work
    • Reviewing links 
    • Do menus, fonts, and colors appear as they should on desktop, mobile, and tablet?
    • Do photos have alt tags
    • Is Google Analytics set up
  • How much of your time will this take: Like other phases, the answer here will depend on how much work is needed and who participates. This is a good phase to get as many folks as possible to view your website. Various perspectives, as well as eyeballs, help to ensure your site says and acts as it should.

Go Live!

  • Overview: With everything approved, it’s time to introduce your new website. 
  • How much of your time will this take: This should take very little. This phase will most likely include answering questions and providing information to your website developer.
  • How can I save time: To help save time in this phase and expedite the go-live process, here are a few things to have ready or decided on early on in the project:
    • Where is the website going to be hosted?
    • Who managed the domain name of your organization? Do you have the username and password to make changes?
    • Who manages your DNS and the email configuration for your organization? Ensure they are involved in the go-live so email accounts are not affected.
    • Do you use Google Analytics or any other tracking software? Have you provided the code for these tools to your developer?

What type of pages and content do I need to think about?

Your website should feature a variety of page types, depending on the size, type, industry, and more of your business. Each will have its own purpose and priority in your planning and development process.

For simplicity’s sake, though, there are two types of pages you should be thinking about as you put your content plan together: Pillar pages and Resource pages.

Pillar pages

Think of these as the foundation of your site. The frame of your house.  They contain general information about your company’s who, what, where, and why. These are needed and important. They will likely be edited slightly over time, but most will not change tremendously. A majority of these pages will be in the primary navigation menu.

Examples of pillar pages are;

  • Your core services
  • Your contact page
  • Your mission, vision, values
  • Your team page
  • Your origin story page
  • Directions & locations

Resource pages

If we continue the analogy of the house, these would be the furniture and fixtures. They provide personality, comfort, features, and tone. They bring experience to light. Help teach, educate, and guide customers. They are ever-changing and expanding and have served very specific purposes. These pages typically don’t show up by name in the navigation menu.

Examples of resource pages are:

  • FAQ articles
  • White paper downloads
  • Testimonials
  • Your insights
  • Blog pages
  • Events & News

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