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.
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.