Author: Qian Si Ying

Why is it that in one studio the terms of website development are called 2-3 weeks, and in another — several months or more? What does the deadline depend on — on the professionalism, the workload of the agency with projects or on the banal laziness of contractors?

The development of an online store from scratch takes an average of 6-8 months. It is clear that you can build a website much faster on the constructor. But even for individual development, the deadlines, which are called by different contractors, may differ twice. In this article, we will tell you in detail what these deadlines consist of and what can affect them.

When a studio offers deadlines significantly lower than competitors, there may be three options:

  • they did not take something into account, and you will find out about it at the very last moment;
  • they want to use some ready-made solution or their own developments;
  • the deadlines that the customer wants to hear in order to close the deal are called. When the contract is signed, the customer will no longer want to change the contractor company. It requires quite a lot of effort. Most likely, it will be easier for him to come to terms with the increased deadlines.

Clients who initially refused to cooperate, afraid of the development deadlines, often return to us. It should be understood that a quick solution does not mean the best, so such customers turn to us again, having burned themselves on unscrupulous contractors — the project has not been launched in the promised time, there is no end in sight, the estimate is swelling by leaps and bounds. Let's figure it out.


What really makes up the term of work on the site

  • Start of work

Only a preliminary discussion of the project, estimates and agreement of the contract usually takes about a month. Maybe more — especially if your company has a complicated tender procedure or a legal department working for kpi.

If you wanted to make a website in a couple of weeks, the time has already run out, and we haven't even started counting the deadlines. If you need to really quickly — look towards the designers. This is an inexpensive solution, which, if necessary, then it will not be a pity to replace with a full-fledged project.

A big plus of designers is that when working with them, you really begin to understand what needs to be implemented first, what needs to be implemented second, and what is not needed at all. This will help with custom development from scratch.

  • Analytics

When all the nuances are agreed, the agency's specialists begin work on analytics — aggregation of requirements. At this stage, the following are determined:

The pains of the target audience and the possibilities of their solution;

  • Successful and unsuccessful decisions of competitors;
  • Unique trading offer of the client company;
  • The exact goals and objectives of the site;
  • Required content.

Based on this information, the structure of the site is compiled — it can be in the form of a table, schema or mindmap. It is determined which pages and blocks the site will consist of, what functions are planned there for whom (going back to the pains of customers) and what they are needed for.

The requirements aggregation stage takes from 2 to 4 weeks. It depends mainly on the timing of receiving feedback from the customer. You also need to include the work of an analyst here — this is about 5-6 calls, for an hour and a half each. Additional nuances of the project are discussed during the calls.

Is it possible to do without preliminary analytics? Yes, if you came to the developer, with a clear table indicating exactly what should be on each page. Or with an already developed website, on which nothing but the design should change. Or when you don't need supercreative and expert solutions from a developer — this also happens, most often on corporate websites or business card sites. If you need a performer who will do the project clearly according to your instructions, from and to, it makes sense to choose from studios in the middle price range.

But, if your current site for some reason "does not convert", has large drawdowns on refusals and in general "something is wrong" with it - think twice. You risk buying the same thing in a different wrapper.

  • Prototype

When the structure is agreed, we proceed to prototyping. The prototype is a schematic representation of the site pages, in fact, the skeleton of the future design. The task of the prototype is to show the blocks on the pages and check that all the elements are enough for convenient user interaction with the site. At this stage, we are not talking about design yet — the study of the usability of the site and its compliance with the user behavior of the target audience comes to the fore. The prototype is usually made clickable — user paths are being worked out, which can be viewed and tested.

Creating a prototype can take from a week to several months. It depends on the volume — the complexity of the project and the number of pages of the prototype. It is important to find a balance: it makes no sense to design all the pages of the site, but it is important that the prototype covers the main user paths. Theoretically, you can abandon the prototype and go straight to the design. But you won't save time — making edits to the prototype is much faster and cheaper than in design layouts.

  • Backlog or technical task

After creating a prototype, you need a technical task or a backlog that describes the logic of the site and contains information about what is not shown on the prototype. The backlog is, in fact, a list of project tasks from which the development stages are formed. It is the backlog that programmers will need to work with.

The terms of reference are necessary, rather, for the insurance of the customer and the developer — so that there is a document that can be referred to if necessary or in case of disagreement. If the TK is written on the project, the backlog will still have to be done later. We write technical tasks so that it could be done relatively quickly and simply.

Writing a technical assignment takes, on average, a week. But after that, the customer needs to read it, answer all our questions and ask all his own. This is a document consisting of at least 50 pages (and sometimes all 150) of rather boring text.

The approval of the TOR takes, on average, a month. Yes, you can do it faster — abandon the technical task and immediately write a backlog. If your business is ready for this, then you can really save a few weeks.

  • Design

Only after the approval of the previous stages can you proceed to the design of the site. In order not to draw at random and not to redo it several times, we start with a visual brief. This is a set of references that we discuss with the customer: what we like and what we don't. It takes about a week to prepare-discuss-agree. The brief itself is prepared in a day. If we agree on the references immediately on the call, this time can be saved.

At the stage of visual briefing, we do not type blocks from which we will "stitch" the site. This stage is necessary for the designer to feel your mood, style, and presentation. What emotions a user should experience when he gets to your site.

We develop the design, starting from the main page, in order to coordinate the overall concept. We are conducting a brainstorm. We draw the layout (iteratively — the art director examines the result daily). We are preparing a UI kit - a brief design instruction. We are making a video to show how the interactive will work on the page. We are putting together a presentation to demonstrate the design to the customer. All together, it takes an average of two weeks.

We are meeting with the customer to present the concept. Sometimes the design is accepted immediately, without additional edits. But more often the customer asks to change something. According to the contract, we have up to two iterations of edits, which is usually more than enough. As a result, the approval takes from two weeks to two months.

When the design of the main page is approved, we draw all the other pages, forms, pop-ups. To speed up the process, several specialists are working on the design, which is also supervised by the art director. If the site is small, you can draw everything in a week. On large projects, the design of internal pages can take several months, especially if you need to develop a design system. Adding here the time for approval.

Total — the design takes a total of 3-4 weeks on a small project, where the customer accepts everything without edits, up to several months.

  • Programming

This stage consists of frontend and backend programming.

Frontend is the creation of an interface design for users. Layouts are made up, animations are created, scripts are added that work on the client side. For each page, you must first make the main version — for desktop devices - and then make adaptive versions for other resolutions so that the site looks good on both a smartphone and a tablet.

The backend is everything that works on the server side: the logic of ordering, filters, site search, setting up entity management from the management system. There are also integrations: connection of payment systems, delivery, setting up exchange with ERP systems, etc.

Development is carried out in sprints (task blocks), two weeks long. A couple of sprints may be enough for a small project. There are projects in which there are more than a dozen sprints. Acceptance on the customer's side at this stage does not take much time. But, on average, it takes about a week for each sprint.

A team of 2-3 programmers is working on the project. It doesn't make sense to add more developers to the team — Brooks' law will work when programmers start elbowing each other, interfering with each other and slowing down development. You can speed up the process by running several development threads in parallel using a microservice architecture. This makes sense on large projects, and such an implementation must be embedded in the architecture in advance.

How else can I shorten the time? Launch the project in stages. First, in a few sprints, develop the first version with the basic functions. Let users into it, start getting a return from the site. In parallel, continue development, increasing functionality and immediately testing it on users.

Since we started talking about deadlines with the time needed to develop an online store, let's estimate the total time for the development of such a project. Normally, it turns out to be 6-8 months, while we are simultaneously writing a technical task and developing the design of the main page. These steps can be done simultaneously, since they do not depend on each other and they are handled by different specialists. This allows you to optimize the timing, the main thing is that the customer is also ready to coordinate these works in parallel

After the development is completed, you will need more time to put the site into operation. You need to fill it with content, sign contracts with external services, get confirmation that everything is taken into account from your SEO specialists. It may not be fast either. And if you have integration with accounting systems (1C, for example), then more than one month of hard work and approvals with 1C-nicknames may remain in this pandora's box.

So what should I do if the season starts in a couple of months, and I want to start selling in a new online store this year? Start making a project now. Let it be too late for this season, but you will be ready for the next one.