One of the most common questions we get here at HostGator is, “How long does it take to build a website?” It’s a great question, but it also doesn’t have a super straightforward answer.
The most basic answer to that question is, it depends. For a majority of websites, it takes 12 to 16 weeks. But, it depends on how much experience you have building websites, what you want your website to do, how much planning you do in advance, and what training tools you use.
If you want to build a super basic website with no bells and whistles, you can build it in a few hours (seriously). If you want a fully-functional, highly-customized website, it can take weeks to months.
This article will focus on the average website owner at HostGator and how it’s possible to launch a nice website in a week (seriously!). Here is an overview of the steps you need to follow to get your website up and running in 7 days.
For more detailed, daily instruction on building your website, make sure to sign up for HostGator’s free 7-day email course.
1. Get in the zone
Do you remember back to elementary school when you read the Shel Silverstein poem, Melinda Mae? If not, here’s a quick review. Melinda Mae wants to eat a huge whale and everyone says it’s impossible. So, she sits at the table and takes tiny bites, and finishes the whole whale in 89 years.
Thankfully, it won’t take you 89 years to eat this particular whale (aka build your entire website), but the sentiment of Melinda Mae could not apply more to creating a site.
It’s true. You have quite a task at hand. But, if you get in the zone, stay motivated, and take the project one tiny bite at a time, you’ll move through the process swiftly and have a beautiful website up in no time.
2. Create a plan
Creating a website without a plan in mind is kind of like baking a cake without a recipe. You’ll end up skipping steps, leaving out important ingredients, and you’ll end up with a huge mess on your hands and a gross final product.
Before you get started with your website, you need a recipe. Make sure you have an answer to all of the following questions:
- What do you want to name your website?
- Will your website have a tagline?
- What header image do you want to use?
- Do you want to put your logo on your website?
- What color scheme do you want to use?
- What font do you like?
- Do you have a gallery of images to supplement your website copy?
- What do you want the basic layout of your website to be?
- How many pages do you want on your website?
- Which pages do you want on your website?
- Where do you want the navigation menu to appear?
- How will website users get in touch with you (e.g. phone, chat, contact form)?
- Will your website include a blog?
- Do you know the basics of SEO?
- What do you want each page of your website to say?
Take the time to write down the answers to each of these questions. You’ll be glad you did.
2. Conduct market research
Before you even start researching domain names or sign up for web hosting, it’s essential to conduct market research. This includes learning as much as you can about your target audience and your competitors.
When you know who your audience is and what your competitors are doing, it’s easier to create a website that engages your audience and differentiates you from other websites like yours.
Website market research can be an involved process, and it’s wise to consult additional resources for how to conduct effective audience and competitor research. But, here are some basics to consider:
- What are the demographics of your audience?
- What does your audience like and dislike?
- What type of content does your audience like (e.g. text, video, podcasts)?
- What do your social media insights say about your audience (if applicable)?
- What customer insights do you have from your CRM (if applicable)?
- What do your current reviews say about your company?
- Who are your competitors?
- What are your competitors doing that is working and not working?
- How are you different from your competitors?
- What problems do you solve that your competitors don’t?
3. Outline your website structure
Since websites are visual, it’s important to outline your website structure. You can even quickly sketch out what pages you want to include in your site and what you want your pages to look like.
The good news is you don’t have to be an artist. This exercise is to help you get your ideas on paper. Also, whether you use the HostGator Website Builder or opt for a WordPress theme, you won’t have to do any of the artwork or design yourself. All you need to do is plan out a basic idea of what you want, and then let HostGator or WordPress do the hard work.
If you opt to use the HostGator Website Builder, remember it uses AI to build your basic website structure for you, and then you can easily customize your pages with a few clicks of a button.
If you build in WordPress, you can choose one of the thousands of pre-built website templates that best matches what you dreamed up in your sketches.
4. Write your website copy
Once you have sketched out what you want your website to look like, it’s time to write your website copy.
If you don’t know exactly what your website will look like and how much copy you will need yet, you can just create a document for each page on your site. Then, write down the headline, subheadings, and any blocks of copy you know you’ll want on the page. You will make adjustments once you’ve settled on a design or theme.
Once you have picked your theme or started your design, you can copy and paste your content into the respective page builder or theme.
5. Choose your domain, hosting, and software
If you’ve created a plan for your website, done your market research, and planned your visuals and copy, you’re officially ready to get started.
The first step in getting your website is to choose a domain. Your domain is a unique web address that directs browsers directly to your website. When you sign up for web hosting with HostGator, you get the first year of your domain name rental for free.
To sign up for web hosting, all you have to do is navigate to HostGator.com, pick your preferred hosting plan, and sign up.
Often the type of hosting plan you select will depend on the software you use. For example, if you want to use the HostGator Website Builder to build your website, you’d select a hosting plan from the Gator Website Builder. As soon as you sign up and log in, HostGator will help you build your website.
Similarly, if you want to build a WordPress website, you would navigate to HostGator and click on WordPress Hosting and select your preferred plan. Once you have set up your account, you can install WordPress with one-click and start creating your site.
Remember web hosting is the service you use to rent server space. As such, you can also build your website with a third-party website builder, and still host it through HostGator.
6. Design your website
Now that you’ve done all the planning and have a hosting account and access to WordPress or the website builder, you can start designing your site.
This step will take up the bulk of your time. However, if you’ve planned and prepared, this process will be easier. All you’ll need to do is sign into your account, pick your design elements and templates, and start importing the images and copy you pre-planned.
7. Review your website and publish
The last part of the process of building your website in a week is to review your website and publish it.
Here is what you want to review before you publish:
- Make sure all your internal and external links are working.
- Look over your theme, color schemes, and design to make sure it looks nice.
- Double-check your logo.
- Add a favicon (the little logo that appears in a users browser).
- Check that your images are correct and loading properly.
- Do a spelling and grammar check.
- Make sure you’ve published your blog (if applicable).
- Check that your forms work.
- Test your plugins.
- Update all your social media plugins.
- And more!
Basically, you’ll want to check every element of your website to make sure everything is working properly. When you’re done, press “publish,” and share your website with the world.
Sign up for HostGator’s free 7-day email course!
The purpose of this blog post is to show you how long it takes for an average website owner to build a website in HostGator and list the steps involved.
However, if you’re looking to stay motivated, get more detailed instructions, and hit a target publish date in a week from now, then sign up for HostGator’s free 7-day email course on building your website.
Instead of sitting you down at the table with your website whale, HostGator’s course will send you daily instructions and bite-sized tasks. At the end of the 7 days, you’ll be ready to press “publish.”
Casey is the Senior Director of Marketing for Hosting and has been in the web hosting space for 7 years. He loves the slopes and hanging out with his kids.