Most website designers and agencies will tell you: it depends.
What I will tell you: 2 or 3 weeks or a month, after contract is signed. Sometimes, early!
I'd say ditch that website designer or agency right away if they say it takes three months or more, because your project will not be delivered on time. Time is money, you don't have time. Most of my clients are small businesses who just can't afford to wait so long.
You want to get a website built professionally and you don't have three months of waiting time. If a designer cannot value turn around time, you should move on to a freelancer or agency which does.
What Really Is The Ideal Turn Around Time For A Website?
Perhaps two of the most frequently asked and least-often answered questions in the web design world are regarding how much a website will cost and how long it will take. Time and price are directly interrelated, but the answers are complicated. Largely because there are so many different options when it comes to web design prices. It's like asking how much it costs to eat at a restaurant. The answer is, it depends. The most simple answer is that a professional website will generally run you between $500 and $2,500 and will take anywhere from 30 days to 6 months. Here is a breakdown of what makes the difference when it comes to cost and turnaround time in web design.
1. How quickly you give input makes a difference!
The whole point of a customized website is that it is created and designed specifically for you. That means your web designer needs your input at several points along the way to ensure they are creating something that will suit your needs and fit with your vision. In many cases, designers reach a point where they can go no further until they get your approval or input on what needs to be fixed or changed. This means the faster you get them the information or input they need, the faster they can begin moving forward on the next step, stage or phase. So part of the question of how long a site takes to build all depends on you.
2. The more you want it customized, the longer it takes, the higher the price!
If all you want is a single page with some basic information, essentially like an online business card, you may only be looking at a few hundred dollars and a fairly quick turnaround. If, on the other hand, you want several pages, including custom graphics and a number of custom design elements, you could be looking at a few thousand dollars. There are any number of ways to customize a basic web template and each one of those customization's takes time, which costs money.
Think of it like buying a car. If you buy the car with basic stock features, it's one price and you can generally drive it off the lot immediately. If you want custom wheels, the price goes up as does the time when it will be available. Custom stereo, same thing. Heated seats, moon-roof, leather interior - all extras, all cost money. If you want then all, a special car has to essentially be built for you, which takes time as well.
Therefore, two people could theoretically buy the exact same car, but one may end up costing thousands of dollars more than the other one and one buyer may have to wait several weeks or months for their car while the other can take it home immediately. This is why it is difficult to nail down the exact price of a website or the time it takes to build it. It all depends on what you want.
3. Good, Fast, Cheap - choose two!
There is an old saying that applies to many different fields, but certain to web design. If you want a great website with a very quick turnaround, its going to cost you significantly more than if you want a great website and are willing to wait for it. Part of this goes back to maximizing the web designer's time. For instance, let's say you hire a web designer that sends you a concept to approve. While they are waiting on concept approval from you, they start work on another project. You approve the concept and send it back, but they are working on something for another client. When they have a certain amount of work completed for that client, they return to yours.
That works expeditiously for them and maximizes their time, but may make your site take longer. If you want them to focus their full attention on your project, it's going to cost you more. You can also have a website built very quickly for a rock bottom price, but it's probably not going to be all that great and you can forget any advanced work. Big companies like GoDaddy or Wix will sell you on that, they have a commercial on TV which says you can do this in an hour, GTFO!
4. If it's too good to be true, it probably is!
One of the best ways to determine the right price for the website you want is to get several quotes. Often you will find prices listed online that are well below what professional or freelancers are quoting. This is where it is wise to be very careful. Many online companies will charge you a very minimal amount for building a website with a quick delivery time. This seems like a great thing at first, but the problem is that you will most likely want at least a few customizations and possibly even some changes made down the road. This is where you will most likely regret going for the cheapest option.
Many online companies will build your site, but keep the rights to the content. So you may own your domain, but they own the content. If you want any customized options, upgrades or changes, they will charge you far more than what a freelance designer may have quoted you to start with and if you want to change companies, they will keep all your content so you have to start all over again from scratch.
5. Freelance versus design agency
One of the very best ways to hit as close as you are probably going to get to the sweet spot between good, fast and cheap is to hire a freelance web designer. While they may cost you a bit more than a design agency, you will most likely get a fully, completely customized website for less than the design house would charge you for the same options. Freelancers also tend to be working on less projects all at the same time, which means your turnaround time may be much faster than on a completely customized site from a larger firm.
Where a freelancer will almost invariably be worth their weight in gold, however, is on updates. Most big firms and online companies will charge you more for updating your site than for building it. This is how they get you in the door. A freelance designer may charge you a bit more up front to build your site in the first place - which may also take a bit longer - but they will almost always do upgrades for a very minimal price.
When it comes to gauging the price of a website build and how long it will take, there are just no hard and fast answers. There are too many variables: cost and turnaround time all depend on what you want. Ultimately, the only rule is that it's just like anything else in life. The closer it is to "stock," the less it will cost and the faster it can be completed. The more you want it customized, the longer it will take and the more you will pay for it. Ideally, a website should take roughly 30 days to complete, but that's dependent on a number of different factors. It could also take just a few days or up to two months as well. It all depends on what you want.