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Why Will My Project Take Longer?


Excit­ed as you are to watch your web­site go live, you prob­a­bly can’t wait to get the end result in your hands. Every day you have to wait feels like lost leads, missed sales, and reduced prof­its. Hav­ing sub­mit­ted your pro­pos­al, you might be sur­prised at the esti­mat­ed deliv­ery time­line and won­der “Why will my project take so long?”

Hold on! Being patient will most prob­a­bly not only result in a bet­ter, more effec­tive web­site but also save you plen­ty of headaches down the road. If you need some reas­sur­ance, here are some of the most com­mon rea­sons why your project might take longer to fin­ish than you expect.

Features and Functionality — Dynamic vs Static Website Pages

Even a one-page web­site can take dras­ti­cal­ly dif­fer­ent amounts of time to devel­op depend­ing on the fea­tures and func­tion­al­i­ty required.

Dynam­ic web­sites’ con­tent can change depend­ing on the user that vis­its the pages and what they do on the web­site. For exam­ple, a web­site where users can cre­ate accounts and get a per­son­al­ized dash­board is a dynam­ic web­site. Social media, brows­er-based games, and oth­er inter­ac­tive pages are all also exam­ples of dynam­ic websites.

Sta­t­ic pages dis­play the same con­tent, regard­less of what actions are tak­en on the site. Think of a basic land­ing page that’s meant to pro­mote a new prod­uct or brand. At most, it will prob­a­bly have a con­tact form to build a sub­scriber or newslet­ter email list and cap­ture leads.

It should be fair­ly obvi­ous that the more fea­tures you want to add to your web­site the longer it will take to build. How­ev­er, dynam­ic web­sites require a lot of addi­tion­al infra­struc­tures that will extend the devel­op­ment time even further.

For exam­ple, most dynam­ic appli­ca­tions rely on a data­base to store and retrieve infor­ma­tion. For web­sites with com­plex data, like Face­book, the data­bas­es will prob­a­bly need to be cus­tom designed by an infor­ma­tion archi­tec­ture pro­fes­sion­al. It might also require using a num­ber of dif­fer­ent tech­nolo­gies in combination.

Advanced visu­als will also def­i­nite­ly draw out the time need­ed to pull off a qual­i­ty web­site. The whole design process is an entire­ly sep­a­rate one and may even be head­ed by a dif­fer­ent team. Ani­ma­tions, unique graph­ics, and cus­tom brand­ing all require extra time to deliver.

If you’ve employed a respon­si­ble devel­op­ment agency, this will also lead to the need for more test­ing and ver­i­fi­ca­tion to make sure every­thing works. While build­ing dynam­ic web­sites may add more time to the ini­tial devel­op­ment process, if done right, it will make future con­tent updates easier.

Custom Code vs. Pre-Built Solutions

Tools like Word­Press, Wix, and Shopi­fy have rev­o­lu­tion­ized the inter­net, allow­ing any­one to build and launch a web­site. How­ev­er, they do have their limitations.

The biggest down­side to using a pre-built solu­tion is that you’ll be hand­i­capped when it comes to cre­at­ing a tru­ly unique web­site. Word­Press, for exam­ple, may have thou­sands of themes and plu­g­ins to cus­tomize a web­site with, how­ev­er, the most pop­u­lar themes have tens to hun­dreds of thou­sands of users. That means you’ll like­ly be using the same theme as many oth­er websites.

Sim­i­lar­ly, pro­pri­etary plu­g­ins and themes are devel­oped to work in a very spe­cif­ic way. In most cas­es, it’s not easy to adapt their func­tion­al­i­ty to your exact require­ments, and doing so might open a whole can of worms.

On the oth­er hand, devel­op­ing a web­site from scratch gives you com­plete free­dom to have it look and feel exact­ly how you want it. Your web­site will have a unique fla­vor that’s very chal­leng­ing to repli­cate on a CMS. Devel­op­ing a cus­tom site also has a num­ber of oth­er benefits:

  • Secu­ri­ty: Thanks to a com­mon code base, CMSs like Word­Press, for exam­ple, have plen­ty of well-known vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. In con­trast, cus­tom-built web­sites are unique and, if secu­ri­ty is tak­en seri­ous­ly, hard­er to penetrate.
  • Per­for­mance: Because many CMSs are open source projects, they may not always be opti­mized for per­for­mance or SEO. A cus­tom web­site only con­tains the exact code pack­ages need­ed and can be opti­mized for your spe­cif­ic application.
  • Main­tain­abil­i­ty and Exten­sions: Depend­ing on your project, it may be eas­i­er to main­tain and add more cus­tom func­tion­al­i­ty to a cus­tom web­site, par­tic­u­lar­ly if the same devel­op­ment team man­ages it long-term.

That being said, many of these ben­e­fits can be achieved by hav­ing cus­tom code changes made to a CMS. In this case, you can expect a high­er lev­el of cus­tomiza­tion with unique fea­tures and designs. How­ev­er, the upside is that, once the project is hand­ed over to you, you can still use the no-code con­tent man­age­ment fea­tures. This makes main­te­nance, admin, and adding new con­tent eas­i­er if you don’t have the tech­ni­cal skills or an IT team.

Quality Assurance — Testing and Idea Validation

Imag­ine this sce­nario: You receive a com­plet­ed web­site from the devel­op­ment stu­dio or free­lancer. It was deliv­ered with­in the time and bud­get con­straints and, on the sur­face at least, the end prod­uct looks great and comes with all the func­tion­al­i­ty you request­ed. You sign off and con­sid­er the con­tract fulfilled.

How­ev­er, not soon after launch­ing your site, you start run­ning into prob­lems. Just some exam­ples could be:

  • Vis­i­tors aren’t using the site as their meant to, lead­ing to lost oppor­tu­ni­ties, such as failed con­ver­sions or miss­ing your most impor­tant content
  • Vis­i­tors run into unex­pect­ed bugs when try­ing to cre­ate accounts, sub­mit forms, or inter­act­ing with the website
  • Your web­site doesn’t load as expect­ed when viewed on oth­er browsers (Opera, Fire­fox, Safari, etc.) or on hand­phones or tablets.
  • The web­site has a frus­trat­ing user expe­ri­ence, caus­ing high­er bounce rates and mak­ing a bad impres­sion on visitors
  • Every­one looks and works as expect­ed, but load­ing times for pages, wid­gets, or oth­er dynam­ic con­tent is slow.

These are all signs that a developer(s) rushed through build­ing the web­site, but didn’t both­er to prop­er­ly val­i­date their ideas, ver­i­fy the func­tion­al­i­ty, or test/optimize the per­for­mance. Now, you have to spend a ton of mon­ey for a new devel­op­ment team to come in and fix the mess. Because they aren’t famil­iar with the project, it will take much longer and lead to even big­ger expenses.

As Red Adair puts it: “If you think it’s expen­sive to hire a pro­fes­sion­al to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

A devel­op­er should always pro­vide you with a real­is­tic time­line that includes some breath­ing room to test the project. Usabil­i­ty test­ing is usu­al­ly an iter­a­tive process that involves mul­ti­ple rounds of test­ing, ana­lyz­ing the results, mak­ing improve­ments, and then test­ing again. 

Depend­ing on the size and bud­get of the project, it may even involve devel­op­ing pro­to­types before tack­ling the actu­al application.

While it may take some time to com­plete, it will bring you clos­er to a bul­let­proof web­site that works exact­ly how you want it to. And, it will prob­a­bly save you plen­ty of mon­ey, time, and frus­tra­tion in the future.

In conclusion

Per­fec­tion can’t be rushed. Clichés like this exist for a rea­son — they’re 100% true. One of the hall­marks of a trust­wor­thy developer/agency is that they set real­is­tic dead­lines based on the spec­i­fi­ca­tions you provide. 

If you’re wor­ried about bal­loon­ing costs because the project drags on longer than expect­ed, check that they includ­ed a buffer amount to the bud­get to cov­er any unfore­seen circumstances.

You get what you pay for. You also get what you wait for. Trust that in return for being patient, you’ll get a high-qual­i­ty, robust­ly test­ed, and effec­tive web­site that won’t cost you in the long run.

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Why Will My Project Take Longer?