For the uninitiated, the website redesign process can seem arduous and never ending. Some of our clients are surprised to learn that their new website will take months to go from an idea to a full site that’s ready to launch — but that is the reality for most businesses. A website redesign will take months.
So, exactly how long should this whole thing take?
There are many factors that can influence the length of the process, but the most significant is the size and complexity of the site you’re hoping to build. A bigger site will take longer to build, of course, but it’s not just the number of pages that will affect the timeline.
Here’s what you can expect going into a website redesign for your business.
How long does a typical website redesign take?
As a general ballpark, you can expect a full website redesign to last for three to six months, according to Vin Gaeta, IMPACT’s head of web services.
If, however, you are looking to do a website refresh instead of a full redesign — that is, aesthetic updating but not many structural changes — you’d be looking at two to four months.
For people new to the process, that can seem like a really long time.
On the client’s side, the biggest unanticipated difficulty is content. Although the agency will be building the site for you, it will be populated with content you and your team write or produce.
On the agency side, the actual development and testing of the site take the longest. Once the design is agreed upon, common elements are carried through as templates for various pages and sections, but the development is slow going and intricate.
The truth about website launches
The dirty little secret of website redesigns is that they often don’t launch on time. Vin estimates that a third of sites get delayed and fail to launch on the agreed-upon date. Often this is due to the client not being ready with the necessary copy to fill the pages that have been built.
At other times, the strategy process reveals a project that’s larger than anticipated. Perhaps an overlooked portion of the site needs to be rebuilt as well, adding to the development burden.
When a website launches, this traditionally marks the end of the relationship between the client and the agency. Once your internal marketing team has been instructed as to how to use the website, the client company will have control. Typically, an agency will offer lightweight support for any lingering bug fixes for a set amount of time, usually 30 days.
After that, any additional client needs will have to initiate a new engagement or be completed at an hourly rate.
The launch shouldn't be the end of the process
Traditional website redesigns operate under the fallacy that a business website can be a “set it and forget it” undertaking. You launch your website and then you’re done, right?
Not so fast.
The reality is that websites are continual works in progress, changing as your company’s offerings and structure change. Websites built with this never-finished philosophy in mind are said to use growth-driven design.
In contrast to traditional redesign, growth-driven design doesn’t see the website launch as the end. Rather, once the website launches, that’s when the fun begins. Once the site is live, agency experts begin monitoring and testing the site based on analytics, feedback, traffic, heatmaps, technical SEO best practices, and more.
Then, through A/B testing, the agency will evaluate design elements, copy, conversion pathways, and landing pages to make sure they’re best suited to bring in leads.
During this time, the client pays a retainer to the agency in order to benefit from this continued monitoring.
At the end of the engagement — usually 12 months — you can be sure that your site is optimized to best accomplish your business goals.
Rather than basing design assumptions on guesswork and industry best practices, your website design is based on facts and data.
How growth-driven design extends the timeline and improves the process
In the growth-driven model, you can expect the same ramp up to launch as with the traditional process. This means robust strategy, blueprint, design, development and testing procedures, followed by the site launch.
“If you truly subscribe to the belief that your website needs to be constantly evolving to drive the best results for your company, which all the data and research says that that is true, the results that you can generate from that longer timeline and that iterative process can pay dividends to what you're actually investing into the website.
"It affords you the ability to constantly tweak and tinker.” -Vin Gaeta
Over the course of a 12-month engagement, there will be stretches of time that are more dev-heavy, and stretches that are more focused on testing and data gathering. However, the bulk of development should be completed in the first four or five months, and the focus will shift toward analytics from then on.
At the end of the growth-driven design process, the result is a website that is optimized by data and ready to best serve your business and your site visitors.
Getting started with a website redesign
When done right, a website redesign is an intricate and involved process that can help your business stand out from the competition. As such, it is not a light undertaking. You can expect multiple meetings at each stage of the process to ensure total alignment between your company stakeholders and your agency.
Make sure you budget the necessary time to create the content that will live on the new site. (If you need help developing a cogent content strategy, you can utilize free resources found on our website — or free courses in IMPACT+, our education platform.)
Although the website redesign process will be long, don’t let the timeline intimidate you. In fact, a longer timeline will produce an even better website, one that is girded by data analytics and A/B testing.
In growth-driven design, your monthly retainer will guarantee your agency’s expertise for more than just a website launch. When you have strategists and developers working together on your already launched site, you can be sure that your website will be adjusted to its optimal state.
When your website is at its best, your visitors will be satisfied and your business will be well-represented.