Category: A Starting Place

Future Bright Websites - Web Design In Marin

How Much Do Websites Cost? How Do I Choose A Website Designer?

Future Bright Website Company, SEO, Social Media, Reviews Management

Website Design In The Bay Area

The home of Future Bright is in Marin County, just north of San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge.   The entire North Bay is a treasure trove of small businesses, artisans, entrepreneurs, writers, and socially oriented organizations.   With some of the highest living costs in the country and most of the world, hiring or buying local means paying a premium.   Organic Eggs are $12 per dozen because the hens run wild, eat bugs and, probably get massages by specially trained foxes at night.  When it comes to websites, nothing but the best is acceptable.  This is because even though there is an artisan hand-made tradition, we are within view of Silicon Valley, and websites certainly should not look hand-made!  Unless of course you are interested in Brutalism Web Design, which is an entirely different story!

Without exception, every venture or organization now needs a website.  Finding a website company or digital partner who matches your style and budget can be challenging.  Is it possible that the price of eggs in your region could determine what you should spend on a website?  It certainly seems probable that there is a correlation!

Searching For A Website Company

As you will find anywhere in the world, there is a wide range in offerings for businesses searching for a digital partner.  There also is a wide range in options and features, platforms and systems.  It can be overwhelming.  Should you let your friend build your website for free?  Should you hire an agency and spend $50k?  Should you find someone local, or hire someone that lives in an area where eggs are much cheaper?  What do you need as a minimum to have a functioning digital presence?  In addition to a website, what social media platform should you be active on, and can someone help you with that?  What is Google looking for these days?  The answer to these questions will vary depending upon where you plan to be one year from now, and five years from now, and selecting a partner means looking for someone who can be with you not just for a few months, but for a year, three years, or longer.

Before And After

Web Designers In The Bay Area

Future Bright is just one member of an amazing family of  website design and development providers in the Bay Area.  If you Google “website design Marin” or “website design in YOUR county” you will discover dozens of professionals who are local, reliable, and who understand the unique needs of a business operating in your community.  Selecting the right partner will require considering many factors including your budget, internal resources, your design style, and your revenue goals.

Future Bright is a full-service digital agency, which means that we do the hosting, design, development, Search Engine Optimization, and Social Media Marketing.  We became full-service because we saw clients struggling to manage multiple teams.

If you are searching for a web designer in Marin or in your local area, it is because you feel that you want to work with someone that you can meet in person.  You want them to get to know you, to understand your individual preferences, and also, when you are working with someone local, you can be fairly certain that they will be reliable.   You need to determine the value of knowing your digital partner personally.  Is it important to you?  Then yes, it is worth the initial investment.  You will most likely save a great deal of time and expense working with someone in the same time zone, and also with someone who you can sit with to explain your needs.  If close proximity is NOT important to you, there are many incredibly talented web designers and developers around the world.

Selecting A Digital Partner

Creating your digital team may require pulling together multiple teams or individuals.  Perhaps you have a favorite designer, but they don’t build websites.  Perhaps you have a design and development partner, but they don’t do SEO.  You might have a Social Media Strategist who is going to take your business global.  Because the technology behind your website is critical to its success (if your site is broken it doesn’t matter how good the content is), you should choose your development team carefully.  When you are reaching out to web design and developers in Marin, it is best to not ask them to give you a quote right away.  Just assume it is going to be (In Bay Area Dollars) somewhere between $5k and $80k.  It is nearly impossible to determine the cost of a project with just a phone call.  You will get a wide range of quotes, and neither you (nor they) will be certain that the estimate is even close to the final cost.  Instead, spend 15-20 minutes having a conversation about your business and where you want to go.  Don’t try to ask them tricky questions.  Instead, ask them about some of their favorite projects, or about their team.  This will help you get a feel for each other’s communication and visual style.

The two most important elements in selecting a digital partner is finding someone who has a 1. compatible communication and 2. a visual style that compliments yours.  Once you have narrowed your selection down to one or two teams or individuals, then I recommend requesting a Project Assessment from each.  This is how we now begin all of our projects.  Rather than creating a quote without knowing the details, we have carved out a piece of our Discovery Phase budget, and offer a “Project Assessment” for $400-$600.  The result is a full report of our findings, what our recommendations are, a Scope of Work, and what we estimate the cost and timeline should be.  We then subtract that expense from the final project price if the client decides to move forward.  You can do this with two or three designers/developers, or just your favorite and assess the results.  You will gain valuable insight for your investment even from the teams that you do not choose.

Following are the elements that have the most impact on the cost of a project:

  • Do you need a logo and brand – and how high-end does it need to be?
  • Will you be selling products on the website?
  • Will you have a project portfolio on the site?
  • Do you need a copywriter, or will you be providing the copy?
  • Do you have an existing site, and is it on a platform that can be retained, or does it need to be upgraded or completely rebuilt?
  • Do you process information verbally?  If so, you will need to add budget for longer meetings.  This is important, so that you have enough time scheduled for you to be properly heard.
  • Do you have time to dedicate to the project, or could it potentially get put on hold due to events in your life or business?
Web Design

How Much Does A Website Cost?

If you live in a different region, adjust pricing accordingly.  We have found that having a website built in Marin County for a small to medium sized business can range from $5,000-$50,000, with the probability of a small business with no fancy ecommerce requirements will pay around $12,000 for a website and social media platforms set up.  You should not spend less than $5,000 on a website built in Marin County.  It is simply not possible to complete a quality website with the SEO, CRM & Social Media Integration that you need for a lower price.  If you have an e-commerce store, you should not spend less than $10,000, and it needs to include a Social Media Design Package with a strategy for marketing after launch.  You can find local developers who will build a site for a lower cost, but you can be certain that they will need to leave out important features or components to fit a smaller budget.  If you require a specialized design, add another $5000.  If you have an ultra-modern brand, add $20,000.   You should spend about 10% of your target annual revenue to build your digital presence.  The website package should include three months of support after launch.

Probable Price Ranges For Web Design

The prices below should include all of the Critical Components that I have listed towards the bottom of this article.  These are prices for sites built for small to medium sizes businesses with sales of under $500,000.

Typical Costs:

Professional Logo & Brand:  $2000-$50,000 depending upon your needs

Single Page Site:  $3000-$5000

Five to Ten Page Site:  $5000-$30,000

Five Page Site Plus eCommerce:  $6000-$30,000

A la carte Components:

Hosting & Content Maintenance:  $100-$800/month

Blog Management (upload + posting to Social Media) – $300-$500 per blog article

CRM Integration With Funnels, Drip Emails etc. $5000-$10,000 for set-up

Monthly SEO Services:  $1000-$3000 per month

Monthly Social media Services:  $1500-$5000 per month (does not include ad buys)

Critical Web Design & Development Components

Your website and digital presence should, without exception, include the following:

  • A professionally designed logo and color palette
  • A website design that is mobile friendly (responsive)
  • A website with a content management system that you can update personally if you wish to
  • A Key Word study with an SEO Strategist, with key words in the website page titles and content
  • Alt tags on all images that contain your business and keywords
  • An opt-in form connected preferably an advanced Customer Relationship Management System (MailChimp, InfusionSoft)
  • A load speed of under 3 seconds
  • Google Analytics, with a monthly auto-report being emailed to you
  • A monthly hosting/maintenance contract that includes backing up the site and updating components
  • Social Media presence including Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, plus others relevant to your field
  • A Google My Business registration

I hope that this article has given you some food for thought, and that you feel somewhat informed about what to expect when searching for a web design partner in Marin, your community, or beyond.  Are you wondering what website platform is best for you?

Tech Walk-about #1 – Your Google My Business Profile

Business Builder Tips Walk-About #1. Google My Business Set Up

Learn all about the NUMER ONE digital profile you need for your business - Google My Business. Rather than staring at someone talking constantly to keep you...

Having a Google My Business Account is incredibly important.  In this walk-about, I talk about how to create an account and why it is important.

Key Takeaways From The Video

Google My Business Profile

  • Create An Account at Google My Business
  • Look For A Physical Postcard In The Mail For A Code
  • Fill out all of the information that you can.
  • Add your hours
  • Add your products and services – they are important key words
  • Use photos that are informative
  • Turn on the Request A Quote feature
  • Add one post each week – write a blog post, use it as a post
  • Make sure that your other online profiles all have the same info
  • Pay attention to your analytics
  • Google will send you reports once/month about your GMB profile
Future Bright How To Start An Online Business

Start Selling Online – Fast and Low Cost – Wendy’s Recommendations

Start Selling Online Fast

Time Needed:  3-5 hours – tasks can be completed at any time of day.

This page will tell you exactly how to quickly start an online business. On April 8, 2020, the New York Times wrote an article titled, Tiny E-Merchants May Be Huge For Local Economies.  Small e-commerce businesses pull cash into local economies, and may be key to the recovery that can begin now when you start or move your business online.  Your idea, product, or service is CRITICAL to your local economy’s repair, so go for it!  You should do the steps in this exact order.

Instructions:  Follow the below steps, and record your account and other information in the document provided below by clicking on the red button “Get The Checklist”.  If you are unable to print, record your information in a notebook following the format in the document.  Take a photograph of your pages in case you lose the notebook.

Dear You,

I believe that the world needs your ideas, and that the small businesses that emerge from solutions like yours will rebuild our economy.

All my love,

Wendy Louise Nog, Founder
Future Bright Digital
wendy@futurebrightdigital.com
415-275-0970

Recommended Mobile Apps:

WordSwag – adds text to images

iMovie – can crop video & add sound

MixCaptions – adds captions to video

Recommended Tools:

Zoom – Video Conferencing

THE STEPS

1. Choose A Business Name, Register A Domain Name – $20

  • GoDaddy – do not purchase anything else no matter how hard they try to sell it to you

2. Create All Three Core Payment Accounts – Free to set up

Note:  If you do not have a Tax ID for your business, use your personal social security number and bank account until you do.  Set up is free. They will take a 2-3% chunk of each sale.

3.  Products & Prices – Identify just a few – start small

  • Product Name
  • Problem Product Solves
  • Product Description
  • How To use
  • Price

4.  Write your Content:  Images & Text

Don’t spend more than an hour working on this content.  You can always change it later.

  • Images:  A logo is good to have but can come later
  • Images:  Select a main image to use on social media profiles
  • Images:  Select one or more images for each product.  Start with just a few products.
  • Identify Keywords & Phrases:  What will people be searching for when they find you?*
  • Paragraph About Your Business:  Describe Your Products Generally In One Paragraph:  What problem do they solve and how your products make people feel.
  • Paragraph About You:  What inspired you to create this product?   Tell your story in one or two paragraphs

5.  Create A MailChimp Account – Free up to 2000 subscribers

Mailchimp will be used to collect email addresses of people who want to hear from you.  You will be able to send out newsletters, special offers, and more!

6.  Create the following Social Profiles – Free

7. Create An Online Store (Website)

Be sure to add links to your social media profiles and connect your MailChimp account to the platform.

  • Shopify – for manufactured products like bags, clothing – $30/month
  • Etsy – For items made by hand by you – about $.20 per product listing
  • Square – Not Pretty But Functional Website – Free
  • BentoBox – For food & restaurants – $79-$150 – Call Future Bright For Deal
  • Wix Store – sell anything – $30/month
  • Teachable – Online Courses – $29/month
  • Affiliate (sell other people’s products)  Free WordPress.com site*
  • DO NOT use GoDaddy website builder

*To create an affiliate site, you sign up with affiliate programs, and then put links that are made for you onto your website.  You do not need to take payment, the businesses who provide the links for you will handle all transactions.

You Can Start Selling!

8.  Promote your product(s)

  • Share to your personal Facebook/Instagram pages – Free
  • Share on Facebook/Instagram business pages – Free
  • Facebook Ads – Can spend $20+
  • Google Ads – Wide range from $20-$10,000/month

Note:  Manage Your Reviews

Testimonials and reviews are an important part of the customer journey.  It is important that you respond to reviews, and encourage ongoing dialog between yourself and your customers. The below platforms are the main hosts of reviews used by customers:

  • Yelp
  • Google My Business

**Information About Keywords & Phrases

Your content should be written with this in mind:  searches people make on search engines generally fall into three main categories:  Informational (just looking for info), Navigational (trying to find a specific entity or place), Transactional (ready to buy).  To boost your ranking, you should identify key phrases used in those three categories where your business could appear, and then incorporate them into your content.

Example Business:  Ceramic Baking Dish Maker

Informational Search:  “Best apples to use in apple pie”

Navigational Search:  “Baking Tools Store Nearby”

Transactional Search:  “Apple Pie Pan”

How SEO and Social Media Work Together

What’s More Important? SEO or Social Media?

Social Media brings instant, short-term traffic.  SEO is more long-term and will establish your position in search rankings for the long-term.

It takes weeks, even months, for SEO adjustments to your website to be reflected in search results.  Social Media on the other hand can be used to immediately drive traffic to your website.  Once a visitor arrives at your site, if you have an engaging interface that encourages visitors to explore additional pages, they will click through your website.  This engagement demonstrates to Google that your content is relevant to a particular type of visitor and search.  Google takes note and boosts your ranking for those types of searches and visitors.  For this reason, it is important to consider social media and SEO as working together.

Fact:  Social Media can bring instant traffic, but if you stop posting, traffic stops.  SEO takes longer to increase traffic but also sustains traffic longer.

What Is A Better Investment:
Social Media or SEO?

New Business:  If you are a new business with limited funds and you need to generate revenue in order to move forward, use Social Media to drive traffic to your site for sales.  Using that revenue, then invest in an SEO strategy that works with your Social Media profiles for long-term growth.

Established Business:  If you are a more established business, invest in a full assessment of your web presence.  Use SEO best practices on your existing website and social media platforms.  Utilize social media campaigns to drive traffic back to your site, and then monitor engagement, making changes to your site content as needed over time.

Our Method

Our method typically entails first ensuring that a website is using all of the best practices for SEO such as using key words, key phrases, meta tags and image alt tags, fast site speed & SSL.  Put simply, we get your house ready for visitors.  Then we use Social Media to drive traffic to your site, which, as mentioned above, is faster than getting SEO results.  We use heat maps & analytics to see how visitors interact with your site, and then modify the site content, organization and layout for achieving your engagement goals.  By the time this has been executed, which takes a couple of months, Google will have started to reflect modifications to your site, and your pages may begin to appear in searches that you have targeted.

Over time, we then use Google Search Console to even more closely fine tune your site for search results based on what searches your site is appearing in, and how you rank in those searches.  As an example, by looking at Search Console, we could see that Future Bright was appearing in searches for SEO professionals in our home town of Mill Valley.  We created a landing page specifically for that search, optimized it, and now that page is beginning to appear for that same search, and visitors who click on the site will see a page created especially for them.  You can view the page here.

After about six months have passed, a clear picture emerges of which social media platforms are most suitable for your business, what search terms are being used to find your business, and what type of content is most engaging.  Using that information, you can continue to create content with confidence, and with the tools that are in place, monitor the success of that content, and adjust as your audience interest shifts.

Conclusion:

First ensure that your site is using best practices for SEO and also has Google Analytics and a Facebook pixel installed.  Then use Social Media to drive traffic to your site.  Monitor engagement on your site with a heat map, and adjust for user experience.  Utilize Google Search Console to learn how you are doing with searches for your keywords, and adjust or add new content based on those results.

How SEO and Social Media Work Together

How To Make Social Media & SEO Work Together

  1. Install Analytics Tracking Onto Your Website
  2. Create social media profiles on relevant platforms
  3. Identify key words to use in your content
  4. Write content on your website
  5. Share your content on your social media platforms to drive traffic back to your website
  6. Use good layout and internal links (UX) to encourage visitors to look at multiple pages & convert
  7. Read your analytics reporting to learn what is/not working
  8. Adjust, refine, repeat
Future Bright Google My Business

How To Create A Google My Business Page

Why Do You Need A Google Business Profile?

Google uses your business profile to determine your service area, and will place your business on the map so that you appear on search result maps.  Your entire profile may appear on the right side of search results.  Google uses the services that you enter to determine key words relevant to your business.  They may already have a profile for you that you have not claimed, so it is better to be in control.

We Can Help!

If you are time constrained, we can create your Google My Business page for you.  See the bottom of this page for detailed information.

How To Create A Google My Business Page

  1. Go To The Google Business Set-Up Page
  2. Log In with your Gmail/Google Email or create a new account
  3. Add information to your profile
  4. You can hide your physical address
  5. Save The Profile.
  6. Within two weeks, Google will send you a postcard via snail mail with a code.  Log In and enter the code to verify your business.

You will receive regular updates on the performance of your profile.  You will also be able to see how often your profile appeared in searches, was clicked, or was looked at on the map.

Having a Google My Business listing is so critical that if you do nothing else online, you must create a business page on Google My Business.

Having a Google My Business account achieves the following:

  • You appear on Google Maps
  • You appear on the map for search results
  • Google knows your geographic location
  • A rich media snippet is created for you business that includes the following:
    • Image carousel that you choose
    • Link to your website
    • Link to your phone number
    • Link to your address if you make it public
  • It shows Google Reviews
  • It shows Yelp and Facebook Reviews
  • Services that you list are scanned for keywords that Google uses for its search results
  • You receive free analytics showing how often you were viewed and clicked
Our Profile
Google Search Results For Google My Business

5 Signs Your Website Needs A Make-Over

5 Signs Your Website Needs A Make-Over

By Sheila Fox, Production Manager, Future Bright Interactive

 1. Your Site is Not Mobile Ready

Mobile-site-not ready273x183In the race for higher page rankings, Google’s new standard is mobile optimization.   Sites that are optimized for mobile devices are given a higher ranking then those which are not, even when all other SEO is equal. This might not be fair, but it is the new reality. There’s a 75% chance that right now you are reading this on your smartphone, tablet or some other mobile device.

 

2. Your Traffic is Down

website traffic down-chart298x175It seems like every other month Google is updating its algorithms and coming out with a new version of its search engine that totally negates all the SEO strategies you have been implementing for past several years. You need a site that can stand up to the whims of Google, and one that is easily updated whenever necessary.

 

3. Your Website has Been Around Longer Than Social Media

social-media-285x181If your site was built in 2009 or earlier there was little consideration for social media and the marketing that is available. Oh, you may have a few icons on your Home Page leading to your Facebook or Twitter account, but the site itself was not built to take advantage of social media and the traffic it can produce.

 

4. You Have a Ton of Content, and a Mass of Menus

Content overloadYou’ve had your site for many, many years and have kept building on it continuously as your business has grown. As a result you have so many menus and sub-menus that even you can’t find content when you’re looking for it. It’s become an unruly mess and you’ve become a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of cleaning it up and moving it over to a more efficient location.

 

5. It Just Plain Looks Old or Still Uses Flash

Yahoo 1996If you have been using the internet lately, and of course you have, 85% of the US population uses it, then you couldn’t help but notice all the new, clean and modern-looking websites that are out there today. Many of them on a single, long page that is easy to navigate, easy to read and easy to find information. These sites help keep potential customers or clients on your site longer because they answer basic questions immediately and keep your basic contact info in the customers immediate field of attention.

Want to learn more?

Drop us an e-mail by filling out the simple form below. We will be happy to give you a FREE evaluation of your current website and a reasonable estimate for a site make-over.

We’re Future Bright Interactive, a woman owned web shop.

 

[contact-form-7 id=”1447″ title=”Website Evaluation Form”]