This post is to point out the vast array of skills it takes just to build a simple five page website.  I’m hoping this will be useful for all you freelancers out there that are starting out and trying to explain why your prices are higher than your clients might expect.  This post will give you an outline to expand upon depending on what type and size website your clients require.


SEOtabThe following is an example of what is required to setup a simple WordPress website correctly.  I think you will agree that it is not so simple after all, if done correctly, meaning if it is done at a high-level of quality and professionalism.

The example here is a basic website using WordPress, custom designed to match the client’s business.  In this example, it’s a service based five page website, similar to what is requested by most small businesses that are targeting a local market.




Most clients tend to want a custom design, so they can stand out from the competition.

Our Example Includes:

  • Custom Design
  • Home Page
  • About Us
  • Services
  • Contact Us
  • Request Quote Form

Steps Required

  1. The first step we always take is to interview the client.  We find out what they want, in as much detail as possible.  This includes color options, similar websites they like and the type of layout they want
  2. We then view the websites that they like and see if they are within their budget range
  3. Then we figure out what to use to build the site: should we use WordPress, Joomla! or something else such as a custom CMS
  4. After all the details have been collected and we have a good idea of what the client wants in terms of design and layout, we create a mockup.  This mockup is placed online, so that the client can review it carefully and make changes by requesting them via email or via our project management system.
  5. When the design of the home page is 100% complete and the client has fully agreed to it, we create an internal page based on the home page’s colors, layout and fonts.  We then get the client’s approval again for the internal page.
  6. When the client has agreed to the home page and internal page design, we create the actual template for the website content management system.  Normally it will be created in Joomla! or WordPress, but other options are available to the client, should they wish to use a different CMS, such as Drupal or DotNetNuke.
  7. After the template has been created and installed onto the CMS, we build the menu system to match the design.  In this case we would build the menu items and pages for each of the above pages mentioned.
  8. We would enter the content provided by the client into each page.  If the client does not have content and has the budget for it, we will create the content for them.
  9. The form plug-ins are installed and configured to store and or send leads/contact details to the client’s email address of choice.
  10. One of the leading SEO plug-ins of the client’s choice will be installed and configured on the site.
  11. We then optimize each web page for search engines by adding Meta tags to each page and also strategically optimizing the content on each page, so that it is correctly optimized for search engines.
  12. We setup Google Analytics code on the site and also on the thank you page to track conversions and traffic.
  13. We add the site to Google’s Webmaster Tools to track further data.
  14. We then setup any email accounts on their server, so that their emails are fully functional when their site goes live.
  15. We point the name servers from their domain to their new server
  16. We then usually create several video tutorials for the client so they know how to use their website.
  17. Then we discuss any marketing plans futher and implement their overall marketing strategy based on their budget.

So as you can see, even the most basic website takes a lot of time, skills and effort to create correctly.  If you think about all the skill sets involved to do the above tasks, they include:

  • Design Skills, to create the initial design of the site.
  • Web Development skills, to build the design into an actual website and configure all the plug-ins and features.
  • Search Engine Optimization to correctly optimize the site for Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines.
  • Online Marketing Skills to Promote the site after it’s live
  • Basic level Server skills to setup email and connect the domain name correctly.
  • Good communication skills and organization skills to manage the project efficiently

I hope that this post helps some of you explain your project to your clients.  If it did, please place a comment below and share your experience with our readers.  Also, if you get any projects that are beyond your capabilities refer them to us ( and get a 15% commission check.

Also, if you have any clients that use Military time, you can use this easy to understand Military Time Chart.


27 Responses to What’s really involved in the development of a website?

  • Thanks Robert!
    I plan to use this as an outline to come up with an estimating form—it’s so hard to estimate sites!
    If you already have an estimating contract or form that coincides with these steps, I would love to have it! If not, I think clients should see the basic steps listed so they know we aren’t just making a Word doc and taping it to their computer screen…that is just a little bit of how clueless clients might be, so just seeing a huge estimate might leave them bewildered. (I’m not knocking clients! I’m a visual designer who works with a programmer, so I don’t even understand all of it myself!)
    Thanks again!!

  • Hi Robert,

    Thank you for sharing this most valuable information. I am web designer in the making and learning everything and getting it in the right order is sometimes a huge challenge. Getting the client to tell you what they want can be a challenge and sometimes, I find I get a design created and sent for approval and never hear anything else. No feedback what so ever. What’s your take on this?
    Thank you
    PS added you to my G+ circles

    • Hi Hayden,

      If you are paid upfront for your design and don’t hear back from them after showing them a sample then this is not a good sign. However, if they have not paid you anything upfront and do not respond then they might be using your design and just not paying you. Do you get paid upfront? I always get 50% down, I’d recommend you do the same.

  • First of all thanks for the post to tell how we develop a website step by step in a good and efficient manner

  • Hi Richard, if you post a project in the form below that says “GET A WEB DESIGN ESTIMATE FREE!” I’ll get you a very good price on that logo change.

  • Thanks Robert I would like to change or upload my company logo which I use for all my letterheads etc to the Header of the website. But I dont know if its possible or not. At the moment its a jpeg and probably not the correct size either

  • Hi just found your site, have been running my WordPress website for around 6 months. I was a complete novice when I started and it takes a lot of time to learn about SEO meta descriptions etc and getting your keywords right. If your looking at paying for someone to do it, its good to know what work goes into it. A lot!!

    • Hi, yes and the items I mentioned are not even including everything and it is only for a very small site. An eCommerce website is far more involved and complex. If you happen to need anyone for any design and or development work let us know.

  • Your comment above that building your own template from your own design is spot on. A great overview of the steps involved in making a client site. We find communication is the key if the clients expectations are to be met.

  • Hey Robert ,
    Salutary share . The step by step guide for web development explains everything really well. I too have learnt few new things.

  • It’s nice to read this as I had just few ideas about it. I have you to thank for what I just learned on your post. Cool! Kudos! Thanks! 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing a step by step guide in developing a website. This is so informative and will be helpful for freelancers to do tasks to satisfy their clients. I’m going to share this to my friend.

  • OK thanks, glad you liked it.

  • Very informative post! Developing a website is really a daunting task since every client wants their site to stand out among others.

  • A brilliant post!!! As an audience what we gets is a functional website, but we never get to know how actually the entire process is done. The post brilliantly highlights all the procedures involved in the development of web. Thanks for the vital share.

  • That’s a very helpful post I must say. You have shared a step by step guide for web development. Thanks for the share.

  • Good run-down on what can be involved in the creation of a website. However, I would think that if someone is really wanting a custom site there could be a lot more involved. When constructing my own site, I didn’t use a CMS for the main site, just the blog. The process may take a while longer, but I like to actually have full control over every aspect of the website creation process.

    • Hi thanks, but if you custom design and develop your own template from your own design then it really does give you the best of both worlds. You can design the site exactly as you like but still have the ability to update it via an admin from anywhere in the world.

  • Talking to client is one of the most important thing, people are not able to understand what to do with their sites, sometimes they just want results..

    • Hi Vikram, yes I totally agree, it’s sometimes very hard to explain the costs of a website to a client as many of them have no design or programming background and therefore have no idea what it takes to build a custom site.

  • Hiii Robert..nice work…very informative post…It will be really helpful…!!!

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