A blog about website design, programing, print design, and marketing in Jackson Hole, Bend, and Beyond.

Searching Blogs in the year 2009

How much does a website cost?

By Shannon Sbarra on October 14, 2009

How much does a website cost? 

This is a question that I answer often, and it always requires a full explanation.  Here's the full spiel:

As with most things, you get what you pay for!  All scenarios below are based on true stories:

Scenario 1:
You hire the 8 year old down the street to create you a simple, 1 page website for $5.  And what do you know?  It looks like an 8 year old designed it.  It also doesn't actually display in Internet Explorer. 

Scenario 2:
You sign up for a 5 page site on Go Daddy.com or another web hosting company.   It sounds great- so easy and so quick!  You pay $150 + a small monthly fee (very reasonable!). 

In the end, it looks about the same as the site that the 8 year old designed.  And although they sold you an extra search engine optimization package for $200, your site doesn't show up anywhere near page one for the keywords that describe your business.

Scenario 3:
You hire a freelancer.  He says that he can create your site for $1000 and be finished in 2 weeks.  2 weeks turn into 2 months, and every time you call you get his voicemail.  3 months later, he finally puts up an "Under Construction" page.  When he finds a full time job, he tells you that he will work on your site in his spare time.  A year later, you decide to hire a real web design firm and write off the $1000.

Scenario 4:
You hire a local web design firm.  They quote you $2000 for a fancy website.  3-6 months later, your website is live and the final bill is about $3500.  It has all sorts of cool functionality, but some of the links don't work.  Some of the pages are still missing content or have spelling errors.  The design is... industrial? 

When you request a simple change, they charge you hourly and it takes about a month.   Although you are somewhat satisfied, you don't yet realize that the site is programmed in a language that will be obsolete next year, so nobody will be able to update your site in the future.

Scenario 5: 
You hire a Public Relations firm and they overcharge you for a fancy site that you don't need. You end up paying at least $10k for a simple website that looks decent at best.  Oh, it probably will have some fancy flash features, but the usability will be dreadful.

As I said above, these scenarios are all based on true stories!  Everyone seems to have a sob story about how they tried to go cheap and ended up wasting both time and money. 

That's why Skyfire Studio is more than just a web design firm.  We offer a full suite of creative and marketing services so that every dollar that you spend is an investment in your success.  And when you ask me how much a website costs, I'm going to give you a very realistic number that incorporates not just the price of a website, but also design, search engine optimization, marketing, maintenance, hosting, domain registration & renewal, and more. 

Based on your business needs and goals, we will work with you to find appropriate solutions within your budget!  When you are creating your budget for a professional, successful website, here are some good numbers to start with:

$10/year-  Website Domain (URL)
$15/month ($150/year)- Website Hosting
$2,500-$10,000- Website with Content Management System (CMS)
$200-1,500- Initial Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
$1,000-$10,000- Website Photography (unless you already have photos)
$500-$10,000- Website Videography (unless you already have or don't want video)
$500-$2,000- Website Copywriting (unless you already have text for the site)
$2,500-$15,000/year- Ongoing Web Marketing & SEO
$3,000-$10,000- Ecommerce Shopping Cart (if you want to sell stuff on your site)

Minimal recommended budget:  $3,000

Typical budget:  $5,000-10,000

Full Meal Deal budget: $50,000

Every project is unique and our final prices will always factor in package discounts, deadlines and other details. We would love the opportunity to provide you with a project quote.  Click here for a free consultation or to request an estimate!


Searching Blogs in the year 2009

What's in a domain name?

By Jim Sbarra on September 5, 2009

While working with a client the past couple months trying to find an appropriate domain name,I had a glimpse into the future of website domain names. People are now naming their business based on what domain name is available. Which seems like a good thing to do. Except "domain real estate agents" are taking all the good names in hope for the big pay off. So what are small businesses supposed to?

Before you know it were going to start having business called klsjdflkssd because that was the only .com available that adequately described their business!

Sure you could go with a .biz, or.info,  but come on, we all want the .com. So good luck and how do you pronounce 'klsjdflkssd' anyway?


Searching Blogs in the year 2009

Some thoughts on Social Networking

By Shannon Sbarra on August 5, 2009

EVERYONE is asking us about social media.  It's a craze that must be in the water; a disease that's spreading faster than swine flu. 

However, there seem to be some misconceptions about how and when to conduct a social media campaign.  Prospective clients have been approaching me about social networking as though it's a savior to the recession.  They are looking for a quick fix, and are convinced that it's a top priority. 

Well, let me tell it to you straight. 

#1 Social Networking will not magically save the economy.
In fact, all of the time that employees are spending on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and all of the other networking sites has been proven to decrease productivity. 

#2 Social Networking is not a quick fix.
Setting up a few social media accounts will take several hours, and that's just the beginning of the work load.  A good social networking campaign is centered around cultivating real business relationships and friendships.

It takes time to manage your accounts, get to know other users and attract actual leads.  Many businesses who have successfully utilized social media to increase their profits have hired full time staff members to manage the accounts.

#3 Social Networking probably should not be your top marketing priority. 
Before you even consider a social networking campaign, you should evaluate your current marketing plan. Is your brand clearly defined?  Do you have a large, clear, appealing sign in front of your retail location (if applicable)?  Does your website represent the quality of your company?  Is your online reputation clean?  Have you considered a pay per click campaign? 

If you are sure that all your ducks are in a row, then this is the big question:  Do you have the time and/or money available to manage a social media campaign?


Searching Blogs in the year 2009

Block Browser Caching

By Jim Sbarra on July 29, 2009

Here is a little trick that can be helpful when browser caching becomes a problem. Technically we are not blocking the browser from caching, but instead tricking it into thinking that we are requesting a new file each time.

The Problem
Here's a couple scenarios that will help illustrate the solution. Let's say you have a flash file that accesses a dynamic xml sheet that may display different data everytime flash needs to access it. You don't want to show any old cached versions as this may not accurately reflect the data being requested.

Or lets say you have an image with the name myimage.jpg. However you are frequently changing myimage.jpg. So you don't want the browser to display an old cached version.

Here is the solution:
Any scripting language, PHP, ASP(.net), Javascript, etc has a function or a way to create a unique random number. Since I am primarily a PHP programmer I will demonstrate in PHP.

$token = md5(uniqid(rand(), true));

All that is going on here is we have a variable "$token" that is given an unique 32 digit alphanumeric value. So every time the page loads a new unique string gets created.

Now just assign that value to whatever file you don't want cached as a GET variable in the URI:


So the HTML output of this would look like this:

<img src="myimage.jpg?id=1f3870be274f6c49b3e31a0c6728957f">

Now, because of the unique variable 'id' the browser thinks that it is accessing a different file. And there you have it. Real simple and works in every browser to make sure the most current version of the file gets displayed.

This works for all files. It does not have to be an image. XML sheets, SWF's, etc can all have this URI extention.

Heres the final code in PHP

//generate a random unique id everytime the browser refreshes
$token = md5(uniqid(rand(), true));

//output the image
echo '
<img src="myimage.jpg?id='.$token.'"> ';


Searching Blogs in the year 2009

Web Video Usage

By Jim Sbarra on July 16, 2009

I love and am all for web videos. However web video is much different than TV and traditional video. At Skyfire Studio, we go by the rule of thumb that  web videos shouldn't run over two minutes long. This is in part due to keep file size down, but also web users attention spans are a lot shorter than a TV audience.

The key is to display all this media, videos, images, etc, in ways that still create a great user experience on the web.


Searching Blogs in the year 2009

Website Design Trends

By Jim Sbarra on June 16, 2009

It's always fun to take a look around and see where the ever changing world of web design is going.

From a visual point of view, we are seeing much more use of gradients, and sites with out gradients are looking more and more out of date. In the old days(like 2 years ago), the less images used the better, but not with high bandwidth on the rise more designers have taken the attitude of "if  you don't have broadband too bad". Which is interesting because we are also seeing a rise in internet use from cell phones and other pda's which run on a much slower network.

To address this paradox properly the best thing to do is to have two css style sheets, one for traditional web browsers and one for PDAs. Except that i-phones render the web more like a traditional browser which will ignore the "pda" style sheet, but still be on the slower network.