Category: Website Tips

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HUmX – Humane UX Design

Sitting on a bench lazily watching the pattern of the underground train doors passing as a long train rumbles by.  Gazing out the window for a few moments to watch the shimmer of leaves on a tree as the wind helps them defy gravity.  These are moments when we pause.  During that time, our brain stops taking information in, and searches for connections.  Those connections drive innovation and creativity.  HUmX creates the space for that pause, moments for daydreaming, where invention and ideas live.

Explore Our Portfolio!

Explore Our Portfolio!

It Is Within “The Pauses” That We Have Advanced Human Creativity

Our brain and senses are wired for taking in millions of pieces of information and storing them away, or discarding them.  Without moments of pause, our brains are simply a sorting machine…a database of categorization.  We have incredible chemistry available to our brains to make us feel good, or to reward us with those “aha” moments.  Out of this chemistry we have created the world’s human population, spaceships, bread, unicorns, mystery novels, and beautiful architecture.

Enhancing the communication of ideas must be the way that humans will evolve, as this is what we have been obsessively focused on as a species.   The internet and its offspring have given us close-to-telepathic abilities in that our thoughts can be transmitted around the world instantly.   We want to know about each other, the things that anger us, that make us cry, that make us want to have babies, or to dance all night. With the internet and social media, we are, finally, all connected.

Black Shonen

Black Shonen

We have trained the human mind to click for a reward

An unfortunate element of this emergent connection is that the funding of this technology comes from highly refined mechanisms that capture our attention, otherwise known as “ads”.  Our engagement with ads triggers the response-reward mechanism of dopamine, which is released when we tap or click, and which is highly addictive and requires higher and higher doses.   Dopamine is used by the brain to train us to do tasks that it decides are beneficial for us. UX Designers are responsible for training our brains to endlessly tap on ads and content, as clicks are sold in the advertising market.   We must be the ones to choose a new path.

Had the internet somehow been funded by palm leaves, or ocean water, our experiences on websites, apps, smart speakers, and IOT devices would be very different.  Engineers and designers would not be competing to sell to their audience using the addictive dopamine reward/response reflex.  We would instead be competing for the activation of a different chemical in our brains. Perhaps Serotonin activation would have been the goal of websites & digital. Serotonin can create a feeling of well being, happiness, regular sleep patterns, and a balanced appetite.  Serotonin is activated by exercise, natural light, and the right foods. None of these are possible with the current design of many interfaces, which require indoor lighting, and sitting down or remaining motionless.  Mobile phones (and COVID) have freed many of us from the office chair, but there is still so much further to go. If we focus on serotonin, which provides long-term happiness not a micro-second of addictive pleasure, we can start to un-do what is emerging as an emerging change in human behavior.

Marin Web Design By Future Bright

Marin Web Design By Future Bright

What Does A “Feel Good” Interface Look Like?

What does a serotonin-focused interface look like?  It visually creates those pauses, those moments for observation, of “aha’s” where information comes together to allow the creation or discovery of something new.   We have to start to undo the trend of relying on short-term dopamine releases that can be gained from a click or a tap.

Future Bright Websites - Smith Ranch Homes

Your Click-Through Rate Does Not Define Your Brand

We must not be afraid to provide those moments of connection.  We must not be afraid that our competitor will sell more, or that our audience will immediately bounce off to an amazing weight-loss story.  When we look at analytics, we carefully watch bounce rates, and try to keep visitors on our websites or apps longer.  Yet we also watch “click through rates” and try to get users to keep clicking on various buttons with the hope that they will finally purchase something before they click off into the distance and forget about us instantly. Our interfaces are training our visitors to leave us in order to continue their dopamine fix.

A Relaxed Interface Strengthens A Connection To Your Brand

Future Bright - Marin Web Designer In our designs at Future Bright, we try to create those pauses.  We want visitors to the sites that we build to have a moment of visual joy, and then to make their way through our interfaces with ease and without distraction.  When we do provide a call to action, we want to be sure that the visitor feels confident that they will be met with another moment of visual joy, and, importantly, the information they were looking for.  This strengthens the connection the visitor has with the brand.  When you are making purchasing decisions, you want to have the impression that the business cares about how you feel, about your senses, about your happiness…not just about triggering your desire to impulsively click on something enticing and make a panicked or impulsive buy.

Future Bright - Marin Web Designer

Future Bright – Marin Web Designer

As UI/UX designers, we must begin to take responsibility for allowing spaces for the creativity of future generations to emerge, and to resist the temptation to build increasingly click-oriented interfaces. Our attention spans (time before we get bored and move on) are now reduced from twelve down to to eight seconds.   If we do not create a change, at some point our attention span will be reduced to the speed at which we can sense information.  If you have observed someone (or yourself) scrolling through an app, you will realize we are almost already there. It is fascinating and terrifying to imagine what impact that will have on our creativity, experiences, and culture.

These are all points to discuss, to examine, to dispute, and to explore.  We have much to learn, and may our curiosity always be faster than the speed at which we discover.

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?

Future Bright - how to get images from your iphone to your website fast.

How to get photos from your iPhone to your WordPress website FAST!

Save hours and even days of delay coordinating with your developer or waiting until you can get to your computer.  If you take photos on your iPhone that you would like to have appear on your WordPress Website or blog, follow the below steps:

Future Bright - Restaurant Websites

How to add photos to your Media Gallery from your iPhone FAST!

  1. Install the WordPress App on your phone, and log in to your website
  2. Select “Media Gallery”, and then the plus sign to “Choose From My Device”.
  3. Select the images that you want to upload.
  4. Click “Add” at the bottom right of the screen.

Important Tip:  You should have a plugin on your site like “Smush” that reduces image sizes as they are uploaded to within 2000×2000 pixels or another size that you designate.

Future Bright - how to get images from your iphone to your website fast
Future Bright - how to get images from your iphone to your website or blog fast

How to add photos to a New Blog Post FAST!

  1.  Install the WordPress App on your phone, and log in to your website.
  2. Tap the large + symbol at the bottom center of the screen to create a new post.
  3. Give your post a Title
  4. Tap on the body of the post, which will activate the small + symbol on the left of the tools bar
  5. Tap the plus symbol
  6. Select the images that you want to upload.
  7. Click “Insert”

Important Tip:  You should have a plugin on your site like “Smush” that reduces image sizes as they are uploaded to within 2000×2000 pixels or another size that you designate.

Future Bright - how to get images from your iphone to your website fast.
Future Bright - how to get images from your iphone to your website fast

Do you often take photographs that you later want to be posted to your blog or website?  Perhaps you have a food blog, or an events blog, or you attend a lot of networking events and want to get photos up on your site!

Future Bright Heat Map Image

Heat Maps & Visitor Trails – Make Your Website A Blazing Force!

Night Vision For Websites – A Case Study!

Question:  Who are all of these visitors, what do they do when they get here, and why are they not converting into paying customers?

A Northern California client came to us for help with increasing leads for their environmental clean-up business.  They have a pretty high volume of traffic for a small local business.  They receive 30,000+ visitors per month.  By looking at Google Analytics, we were able to see that most of the visitors are going to five blog articles discussing Carbon Monoxide and a few other home environmental topics.  InfusionSoft is operating in the background, collecting leads, but leads were only trickling in, perhaps just a few per week.  We could also see that only 1/6 of users who started the Request A Quote form were completing it.  Two thirds of their site traffic comes from the East coast (3000 miles away), and Southern California, so does not represent potential clients.  The site has an average on page time of 6 minutes with a bounce rate of 90%.  How odd!

What would you do?  This is the fun part of our work:  playing detective.

Our first objective was to follow the rule that it is cheaper to get business from existing clients than to go out and find new ones.  Rather than trying to bring in new traffic, we wanted to try to convert more of their existing traffic, and monetize the traffic from users who are geographically not potential clients.  The client would be overbooked if they had 40 projects in a month.  It certainly should be possible to convert 40 users out of 30,000 into customers!

The Never Ending Form

The first thing we did was ask the client about the “Request A Quote” form.  Just a tiny percentage of those who started the form actually completed it.  Why were people dropping off?  How long is the form, we asked?  “Six pages long” was the reply.  When they created the quote form, the client was concerned that they would be flooded with requests, so they made the Request A Quote form intentionally long as a way to scare off people who didn’t really need help, and required a response for every single question so that only someone who really wanted a call would go through the trouble of filling it out.  They certainly were successful in deterring responses!  Isn’t that thought process just adorable?  We have seen this many times.  “Make the user really try hard to reach us because then we know that for sure they want our help so that we don’t waste our time with people who aren’t going to turn into customers”.

We recommended using a short form first, and if calls did in fact start flooding in, THEN adjust.  We replaced the six page form with a five question form.  Within a week the number of form completions doubled.   We are testing this short form and then will test an even shorter form.

By utilizing Google Analytics and heat map technology we were able to determine that there was too much of a barrier to collect qualified leads, and shortened the form, plus removed the annoying pop-up.  The high volume of traffic is mostly comprised of actual human users who find the content extremely relevant and compelling.  They are not potential clients for the services offered due to their geographic location, but it should be possible to provide additional value to them by making recommendation for trusted products this generate a bit of additional income through affiliate and referral agreements.

Chez BeeSen, Mediterranean Cuisine

Future Bright Heat Map Image

This San Francisco Lunch Spot does catering, and also walk-in orders.  We use a heat map to find out what users are interested in, and what they click on.  We can see how far down they scroll on the home page, and what the engagement is on desktop vs. mobile.

Bounce Rate And On-Page Time

The next piece of the puzzle is this high number of visits to six of their blog articles.  The articles receive several hundred visitors per day.  An SEO analyst had told them that the traffic was all bots.  We disagreed, based on what we saw in the data and “sensed”.  But how do we know for sure?  How can we solve this mysterious data showing long on-page times yet a high bounce rate?  It appeared from our initial examination that these are real users who land at these blog entries, read the ENTIRE thing, and then leave.  We didn’t think they were bots.  But to try to engage with these anonymous users, and to know for certain that they are real, we had to learn more than we could get from Google Analytics.

This is where the heat maps and user trails come in.  What we learned was incredibly valuable.   When we studied reports made on the  carbon monoxide blog article, a stunning 75% of users scrolled all the way to the bottom of the page reading carefully and slowly.  By recording over 100 user’s movements, we were able to see that the opt-in pop-up was a huge annoyance, yet it didn’t send them running, they simply closed it and continued reading all the way to the end.  They often scrolled up to read a section again.  Folks!  We have real users here!  Plus, they find the information in the article so compelling that they read the entire thing!

Summary

By utilizing Google Analytics and heat maps, we were able to determine that there was too much of a barrier for users to request a quote.  We removed the pop-up and reduced the Request A Quote form to just a few questions.  The high volume of traffic was found to be actual humans, who find the information in the article very compelling and relevant.  They are not potential customers due mainly to their geographic location, but it should be possible to engage them in other was such as through affiliate agreements or referrals to businesses that are located in their area.