6 Reasons Website Projects Take Forever

Posted by Corey Smith on Oct 26, 2023 6:46:00 AM

Launch Your Website Fast

Website development has gone through many changes over the years. The first website was built in 1991 and the world hasn’t looked back. We’ve seen so many advancements in how data is presented in areas like animation, web apps, games, etc.

One thing is true with the web in the same way it’s true for everything else. The more complex something is, the more time it requires to execute. Having an expectation of how long it takes to build a website doesn’t mean that your website will be done when you want it done. I think that most small-to-medium websites should be completed in roughly two to four months. There are ways to make that faster but those often don’t work out for a variety of reasons. It is far more common for website projects to take longer than expected.

Here are the six most common reasons I find for web projects being delayed:

  • Fancy Animation
  • Content Writing
  • Photography
  • Integrations
  • Anything custom
  • Indecisiveness

Reason 1: Fancy Animation

I’m of the opinion that too many websites include too much animation. In fact, most animation ends up being a placeholder for proper web strategy. Animation should be purposeful and intentional. It should achieve a specific goal and drive specific behavior.

When you come to a website and everything animates at random times or on scroll, it creates confusion. It causes the user to wonder what he or she is supposed to look at. It then ends up detracting from whatever conversion goal you might have set.

From a developer’s perspective, animation can increase time to completion. The fancier it is (i.e. the more complicated it is) the longer it will take to complete.

Animation is not bad… in fact, animation can sometimes be critical to telling your story. Just make sure it serves a purpose and you account for that in your timelines. You might even consider that, perhaps, on first go live, the animation isn’t present, but then add it later when you are ready.

Reason 2: Content Writing

For most smaller websites (less than 20 pages of content or so) content writing shouldn’t slow you down. It can be written concurrently with the rest of the design elements (layout, homepage design, internal page designs, etc). However, if your designer is writing your content then you likely won’t ever get it done right and in time.

Content is hard. In fact, it’s hard for great writers. It takes time to come up with the right message. Even my blog posts (which come out of my brain and experience) can often take a few hours between concept, writing, and then my own editing. I then have someone fix all the stupid mistakes I’m bound to make.

Remember that your content can be updated over time. As long as you aren’t saying something that is false or embarrassing, it might be okay to consider it good enough to go live and then edit as you have more time and data.

Reason 3: Photography

In this section, I’ll also add video into the mix. Good photography and video take time. Great photography and video take more time. Not all photographers are created equal. The best ones are likely booked out for a while. But, do you need the best one? Maybe, but likely not.

As you are considering imagery for your website, you have to decide the type of quality that is going to help you reach your goal. Most clients feel that stock photography is good enough (as long as you don’t choose a stock photo with Harold). You want to try to identify stock photos that communicate your message but aren’t so common that everyone has seen them.

It’s also not a bad idea to choose stock photos for a go-live timeframe and then change them as the good, professional images become available to you.

Reason 4: Integrations

An integration is the process of connecting your website to another service. The most common integrations might include a connection to a CRM - like HubSpot or EMR (Electronic Medical Records). You might need to integrate with Quickbooks. You might even want to connect to your Google Calendar, your chat software, etc.

There are so many ways to connect web things together. Some are easy. Some are not. Because of that, your wishlist when you build a website should include potential integrations. Some are easier than others based on the website software you choose.

When you are integrating, ask yourself if the integration is critical upon going live. If not, just add a "coming soon" message or simply turn off the link to the page until you are ready.

Reason 5: Anything custom

I get it… this feels like a catch-all, and it sort of is. But, I think it’s an important thing to consider. You may be wondering- what is included in “anything?”

That "anything" could quite literally be anything but this list covers the most common things that I've experienced:

  • Theme (the design of the website)
  • Content (having a writer spend lots of time writing strictly custom content)
  • Website Code (creating a website that has your own code versus templated code)
  • Animation (see my blurb about fancy animation above)
  • Integrations (integrations that require a lot of custom data transfers/mappings)

Hopefully, you get the idea. Most often, a simple template site with minor customizations is enough to accomplish your business goals. More often than not, quality stock photography, refreshed/edited content, etc., is great for you.

If anything above is important to meet your goals, don’t shy away. Just remember, anything custom is going to take time.

Reason 6: Indecisiveness

I know that this is last on the list, but this, by far, is the most common reason a website project gets stalled. I had one site that started 5 years ago and finished rather quickly. We completed all the custom components and even had the content approved before we added it to the site. We had a walkthrough meeting with the client and they loved it but wanted to make “just a few edits.”

That website is still not live. #SMH

There are certain things that take time to choose (and should). If you are going through a branding exercise and want to create a new logo and positioning statement, it’s okay if that takes a little time. Just remember, the longer you wait to decide the longer it takes before you can sell stuff.

There are certain things that shouldn’t be more than a “it’s good enough… say yes and move on!” You have to be clear on what those distinctions are. Be honest with yourself and those on your team. If it’s something that can change easily (like fixing a word or swapping out an image on a live site) then say yes and move on. If it’s complicated like something that potentially can create legal issues or significant cost downstream (like critical product details or a new logo), then take a little more time to be sure.

But, for crying out loud, get your website live!!

Corey Smith

Written by Corey Smith

Corey Smith is the founder of Tribute Media and serves as the Managing Director for Tribute Media. He is also the VP of Web & Creative for Hawke Media.