Building a website is essential for establishing your online presence. Whether you want to build an online store, write a blog or showcase your online art portfolio, your customers or online community will need a website to interact with you or your business.

However, the process of creating a website can throw up a lot of questions and uncertainty. For example, many people don’t know how to build a website, and even if they have some experience with website development, they may have no idea how long the whole process will take. This can be a nerve-wracking experience, as this will delay when customers can start visiting your website.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to the question of how long it takes to build a website. So many factors can influence the time it takes to build your site, such as how many web pages it will have, how much content you need to prepare, whether you hire a developer or use a DIY website builder, and whether you create a static or dynamic website

Building a simple one-page website could only take a day or two if you use pre-made templates from a website builder, but hiring a website developer to create a complex, dynamic website may take up to six months. On average, you could probably build your website in a couple of months – this includes everything from the initial design to the final testing and review stage.

In this article, we’ll break down the steps required to build a typical website, showing you the average timelines for each of these processes. Plus, we’ll compare the average timelines between hiring a website developer and doing it yourself with a website builder.

Hiring a developer vs using a website builder

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make when building a website is choosing whether to hire a developer or use website building software yourself. Hiring a website developer to do it for you will obviously save a lot of time and effort, especially if you don’t know much about HTML, CSS, PHP and JavaScript coding languages. However, the website building process can take longer with a website developer, since you’ll have to allow extra time for communicating with your developer and approving site mock-ups.

On the other hand, using website builder software to create your website can only take a few days or weeks for smaller and less complicated sites, but you’ll have to devote your own time and effort to this project. Nowadays, many website builders, including the Fasthosts Website Builder, are incredibly easy to use no matter your skill level, featuring pre-built templates, free stock photos and drag and drop customisation tools. This makes website customisation a total breeze, but you are more limited with customisation compared to working on a bespoke project with an experienced web developer.

To help you decide what approach to take, consider what’s most important to you. If convenience and speed are crucial, DIY website builder software may be your best bet. If you don’t mind spending extra money and time on getting a truly bespoke result, it may be time to start looking for a web developer. 

Here are the main pros and cons of each option:

Pros and cons of hiring a developer

Here's why you may prefer to hire a developer to create your website for you:

  • You don’t need to learn how to code yourself.
  • Your developer will create your website for you, giving you more time to focus on other areas of your business.
  • An experienced developer will be able to completely customise your website to fit your exact vision.
  • You’ll be able to offer feedback throughout the process and review your website at the end.

However, here are some cons to consider:

  • Hiring a developer is much more expensive – this could cost thousands of pounds (depending on their level of experience).
  • This process can also take much longer (potentially up to six months).
  • You need to communicate effectively to ensure that the developer understands your vision and requirements.

Pros and cons of using a DIY website builder

Thinking of using a website builder instead? These are the main advantages:

  • Using a DIY website builder is much cheaper – many are only a few pounds per month, and you can also take advantage of free or low-cost trials. 
  • You can build a simple website in one or two weeks or a more complex website in a month or two.
  • You retain full control over all of your data and designs – no need to share them with freelancers or web development agencies.

But there are disadvantages too:

  • You’ll need to devote your own time to creating the website.
  • You won’t be able to take advantage of as many customisation options, as you’ll be relying on templates rather than coding the site yourself.
  • You’ll also need to handle ongoing website maintenance.

How long does it take to build a website using a website builder?

Now you know the differences between hiring a developer and doing it yourself, let’s take a closer look at the timelines involved with these two approaches.

Overall, building a website with a website builder will take a matter of weeks. The exact timing will, of course, depend on your individual website, but the following timeline should be accurate for an average-sized website:

1. Initial planning (1-3 weeks)

Before you begin, you need to come up with a clear concept and purpose for your planned website. The final form of your website will greatly affect the planning and creation process, so make sure you decide what you’re doing early on. For example, will you create an ecommerce website, a blog, a business website or an online portfolio? Different types of websites feature different structures and layouts, and if you’re creating an ecommerce site, you should find a specific Ecommerce Website Builder too.

In addition to deciding on your website’s purpose, you can start formulating ideas and plans for other aspects of your site, including:

  • The content
  • Required functions, such as navigation tools
  • Design elements, including your colour scheme
  • Your target demographic

During this planning stage, it’s also a good idea to create a rough plan for your individual web pages. For this, creating a sitemap can be really useful. A sitemap or XML sitemap is a file that shows the structure of your website. Search engines use this blueprint of your website to crawl and index your content more efficiently. You can also create HTML sitemaps, which look like regular web pages and help users navigate through your site. Creating a rough version of these sitemaps at this stage is a great way to create an initial website plan that keeps the overall structure in mind.

2. Choosing a website builder (1 week)

Once you have a solid plan, which can take just a week or a few weeks depending on the planned complexity of your website, you can start looking for a website builder tool that suits you and your needs. Don’t rush this decision – it’s important to research and test multiple website builders to see which one feels right for you, so make sure you devote a week or so to getting this decision correct.

Features to look out for include pre-built templates, instant setup wizards, free stock images, free domains, optimisation tools and integration with hundreds of apps. All of these amazing features and more are available with the Fasthosts Website Builder, which allows absolutely anyone to build a professional-looking website in a matter of weeks or days – no matter their level of expertise.

At this stage, you should also sort out your Web Hosting and Domain Registration.

3. Content creation (2-6 weeks)

Now you’re ready to start preparing and producing your website’s content. It’s important to get this done early, as it's easier to work out the final design and layout of each page when you know roughly what content it needs to include. 

Content doesn’t just include your website’s blog. In addition to blog content, website content refers to written commercial copy, CTAs (calls to action), images, videos and even branded elements like your logo. Preparing these elements in advance will give you a head start when it comes to designing the layout of your site and putting everything together.

Always keep your target audience at the forefront of your mind when creating your website content. Are your customers looking for in-depth and informative blog posts, or are they more likely to be interested in eye-catching infographics or short, snappy videos? According to 87% of video marketers, video marketing has helped them increase dwell time on their website and increase sales.

4. Designing the website layout (1-3 weeks)

The next step is to create a final website layout and start putting together your web pages. In the planning phase, you already created a rough layout and sitemap for your website, but now that you’ve prepared the content, you’re ready to start putting these elements together.

The great thing about website builders is that you can customise and ‘drag and drop’ elements to see how they look on the page, and you can always reorganise these features if your initial plan doesn’t work for you. Pre-made website templates are also a fantastic tool for those who are new to website development, as they give you something to work from rather than having to start from scratch (which can be very intimidating).

Static websites vs dynamic websites

The time it takes to build your website will be greatly affected by the size of your website and its type. Static websites can be put together in a very short amount of time, whereas dynamic websites will take longer and require a bit more coding knowledge.

Static websites load static, unchanging content that’s been coded into a file with HTML, CSS or JavaScript. This means that the same content is displayed for every user. Static websites are generally quicker and easier to build, and they also benefit from faster page load times.

Dynamic websites, on the other hand, are a bit more complex. These websites can feature interactive elements, real-time updates and user-generated content because data is taken from a number of locations to render the website. Therefore, each user can see different information on the page, which improves user experience since content is tailored to each person. Creating a dynamic website will take more time, but the improved user experience could be vital for reducing bounce rates and increasing conversions.

5. Customise and finalise your design (2-4 weeks)

After you’ve created the initial drafts of your web pages, it's time to fine tune them and add the finishing touches. This final customisation phase can vary in length depending on the size and complexity of your website, but it’s always important to take the time to focus on the details. This can make the difference between an amateur website and a sleek, professional-looking one.

The initial building phase is all about getting the main content on each page and creating a solid layout, but now you can get more creative. Focus on details like your images, colour grading, buttons, menus, navigation tools and scroll effects to ensure that every element of your website is accounted for.

This is also the time to really hone in on your branding and ensure consistency across the site. For imagery, your colours, logos and other visual elements should be distinct and eye-catching, and for written content, you should make sure that all writing adopts the same tone of voice and style.

6. Website testing (1-2 weeks)

Finally, when all of this is done, you can move onto the review and testing phase. Don’t hit the ‘Publish’ button yet – you still need to ensure there are no bugs or mistakes before your website goes live.

Sometimes it’s hard to spot your own mistakes, so we would recommend sharing your domain name with colleagues, friends and family so they can review it for you. It’s also a good idea to create a review checklist beforehand, as this will help others provide specific feedback on the areas you’ve identified as the most critical. These areas can include:

  • Your written content. Everyone makes typos from time to time, but did you know that typos and poor grammar on your website can increase your bounce rate by 85%? Always proofread your content to ensure that it’s error-free before publication. You can use tools like Grammarly or hire a freelance proofreader to double check if needed.
  • User experience. Can your testers easily get around your site and interact with your content? If your copy is hard to read or your navigation menu is frustrating, this could drive people away.
  • Page speed. Conversion rates are three times higher for ecommerce sites that load in 1 second, so don’t underestimate the importance of making sure each page loads as quickly as possible.
  • Branding. Can your testers describe your organisation and values based on your website’s branding? If your identity and message are unclear, you may need to revisit your content and visual elements.

Once all of these areas are thoroughly examined and all bugs are eliminated, it’s time to launch your website!

How long does it take to build a website with a developer?

As mentioned earlier, building your website with the help of a developer can be a longer process. However, since you aren’t involved with the actual website building phase, you can save a lot of time and put your effort into other areas of your business.

But what do you actually need to do if you choose to hire a developer, and how long will everything take? Here’s a rough timeline of how your website development process will go.

1. Create an initial concept (1-2 weeks)

Just like if you were creating your website yourself, you need to start by creating an initial concept and plan. You can’t approach a developer until you actually know what you want, so make sure you understand the purpose of your website, your target audience and your rough layout before you begin.

Knowing your main goals for your website will make it much easier for you to find the right web developer, which we’ll discuss in more detail below. For example, if you know that you want to create an ecommerce website, you could find a developer who specialises in ecommerce. Plus, if you give your developer specific goals, such as increasing traffic by a certain percentage within a set timeframe, this will help them understand more about your priorities.

2. Hire a website developer (1-4 weeks)

Now you need to actually hire your web developer. This process can take anywhere from one week to one month depending on how successful your search is, but make sure you take as much time as you need to find a developer who truly understands your vision and has the experience you’re looking for.

You can approach web development agencies, research freelance developers on freelance platforms, or even ask for recommendations from people you know in your industry. Always read reviews and research their qualifications and experience, or you may end up working with a developer who isn’t the right fit for your business or the type of website you want.

You should also take the time to interview candidates before hiring. This will give you a chance to discuss your plans in more detail and ask how they would approach the project. Don’t underestimate the importance of getting on well with your website developer, as you’ll be working closely with them for at least a couple of months!

3. Discuss needs and goals (1-3 weeks)

Once you’ve found the right person for the job, you can start discussing your project in more depth. This is when you need to set out the full brief, including your goals, expectations, deliverables, timelines and deadlines. 

In meetings with your developer, you should bring all of the materials and content you’ve created so far. If you give more material to your developer, they’ll have a much better idea of where to start. Plus, you’ll reduce the likelihood of extensive revisions further down the line. You could give your developer a lot more freedom to design the site the way they feel is best if you don’t provide as much material up front, but bear in mind that your developer may need to take more time to create additional mockups, or you may need to communicate a lot more during the design and review stages.

4. Mockup design and review (1-3 weeks)

Now that you’ve done your part, your website developer will start to take control of the project. However, before they can start actually constructing your website, they’ll need to create web page mockups for you to approve.

These mockups, also called wireframes, are basic designs of your web pages that show you the proposed layout and design of your final site. Your developer should provide you with detailed mockups of all web pages that will go on your website, and they may even provide multiple options for each web page if you’ve given them more freedom on the project.

At this stage, it’s vital that you provide full and honest feedback. It’s much easier for the developer to change things at this stage because the actual development hasn’t yet begun. You can offer feedback later on if you change your mind, but changes at a later stage can have a bigger impact on the project’s timeline. Therefore, you should take your time at this stage to review every detail, including logos, buttons, menus, content placement and more.

5. Website development (1-2 months)

After you’ve approved mockups for your web pages, your developer can start turning these mockups into a fully functional website. This is the most time-consuming part of the process, so expect this main development stage to take at least a month or two.

Even though the developer will be taking control at this point, you should still be communicating frequently at this stage. For example, the developer should be giving you updates on how things are progressing, and you should be offering feedback to ensure everything stays on track. The more you communicate now, the less you’ll have to change during the review process.

Overall, the main website development should take at least a month, but this can be extended if revisions are needed or unexpected setbacks occur. Good developers should build extra time into their project estimates to account for these setbacks, so your overall timeline shouldn’t be too affected.

6. Website review and testing (1-3 weeks)

Finally, once development is completed, your web developer will send over a final version of your website for you to review. This review process is the same whether you use a developer or website builder, so remember to ask for feedback from others and focus on every detail of your site, such as the content, user experience, branding and page speed.

If you’ve communicated well throughout the project, you’ll probably only need to make minor revisions at this stage. This means that review and testing should only take a couple of weeks, but this can be extended if major issues are detected. Once everyone is happy, your website will be ready to publish!

Ongoing website maintenance

Congratulations! Your site is now live and ready to welcome visitors. However, the journey doesn’t end here.

Website management is an ongoing process, requiring continuous maintenance, reviews and adjustments. For example, you’ll want to add new content and update existing content on your site for SEO purposes, and you’ll also need to review your links to ensure that none are broken.

You can choose to handle website maintenance yourself, but this can be time-consuming if you don’t have a dedicated IT team. Alternatively, if you hired a developer to build your website, you could ask them to also handle ongoing maintenance, but this will be more expensive. Instead, your developer could give you access to a CMS like WordPress to make it easier for you to amend your web content yourself.

While hiring a web developer can help you save time and effort, this process can be costly and more lengthy overall. Plus, you won’t have full control over each step of the website development process.

Luckily, anyone can build a website with the help of an intuitive Website Builder. Build your website quickly and easily with the Fasthosts Website Builder or Ecommerce Website Builder, and take advantage of features such as pre-built templates, free stock photos and free domains. Get in touch with our friendly support team at any time for more advice on building your own website.