September 7, 2010

How much time does it take to build a website?

This is a tough question to answer in a broad scope because websites come in all shapes and sizes. So let's break this answer down into parts: standard brochure websites, content-rich online communities, and custom web applications.

Standard brochure websites are informational websites that usually list product details and contact information. These types of sites are extremely simple to create and don't usually require much conceptual planning. However, a good deal of thought should be given to the content and look of the site since visitors will likely only visit this type of website once.

Any of the website building applications listed in the "How much does a website cost?" post can create a slick looking standard brochure website. So you don't need to know computer programming and you definitely don't need to hire anybody to get one of these sites up and running. Creating a standard brochure website usually only takes between a couple of hours to a couple of days.

Content-rich online communities are websites that contain content that is relevant to frequent site visitors. In these sites, visitors also get the opportunity to contribute comments and content to the website. These types of sites aren't all that difficult to construct, however they do require a good deal of conceptual planning. Extensive research must be done to ensure that there is public interest in creating a community around the subject of the content. While this research is not an exact science, it is critical to the success of the website. Content creation is also a very time-consuming activity if executed correctly. It is also an activity that should be happening on a constant basis in order to keep the community alive and thriving.

A popular route for these types of websites are to integrate social media sites like YouTube, Vimeo, Blogger, Wordpress, Twitter, Facebook, and/or Flickr into standard brochure websites. This adds a large level of capabilities to the site without adding to the complexity of building a website. It also taps into online communities that are already established on these social media sites. Since content creation is a continual process, you are never finished building content-rich online communities. However, it should be noted that communities usually take a long time to create. If you are patient, you create relevant and remarkable content, and you promote the content effectively you will create a vibrant online community.

Custom web applications are software programs that are hosted online. Examples of custom web applications include: Facebook, SalesForce, Pandora, Google Analytics, etc. Development time truly varies based on the size and scope of the project, the amount of planning completed, and the competence of the individuals programming the software. So in order to get a good idea of development time, you should speak in depth with a professional about your idea for a custom web application.

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