WebMadeClear – San Francisco's Best WordPress and HTML5 Development

WebMadeClear – San Francisco's Best WordPress and HTML5 Development

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Share for a Chance to win a Free Website!

free website share to facebook and twitter

Win A

Free Website!

 

Need a website, but simply can’t afford one right now?  Tell us why you need a site and be entered to win one for free!  WebMadeClear is offering a chance to win a free website and a year of hosting by sharing your story on Facebook and Twitter.  The contest begins March 16th, so don’t miss your chance!

Here is all you have to do to enter:

  1. Follow WebMadeClear on Twitter or Facebook
  2. Share why you need a new website and tag @webmadeclear
  3. Check back on April 13th – we will select a winner and post their story

That’s it!

Tell us your story, and let us help you develop your dreams®.

 

Official Rules and Restrictions:

To be entered in the contest a participant must follow WebMadeClear from the same social media account they share their post on.  Participants must share their entry and follow on the same platform.  Participants must share on either Facebook or Twitter.  Submitting entries on both platforms does not increase chances of winning.

The contest begins March 16th, 2016 and ends April 13th, 2016.  All entries must be made within the contest period to be eligible.  WebMadeClear may extend the competition deadline at any time.

Finalists will be selected based on their need, their story, and other factors determined by WebMadeClear officials.  Only one winner will be selected.  One of the finalists will be randomly selected and announced as winner on social media and on WebMadeClear’s website.

One winner will be contacted at the end of the competition, before the results are announced.  If WebMadeClear cannot reach the winner within 48 hours, WebMadeClear will contact runner-up participants until a winner of the competition is established.

By entering the competition, you agree to let WebMadeClear share your story, its text, images, and/or videos or creative works on WebMadeClear’s social media channels and website.

Businesses, groups, organizations, and other entities are allowed one entry.  Employees, contractors and affiliates of WebMadeClear are not eligible to enter or win.  Competitors of WebMadeClear, their affiliates, partners, family, or acquaintances are not eligible to enter or win.

WebMadeClear will develop one website at no cost to the winning participant.  This includes a homepage, blog, contact page, and about page.  WebMadeClear will provide a limited amount of revisions to the website, totaling up to 6 hours of revision work after the original delivery of the website.  Any other design or development will require a work-order and will be billed at normal rates.

WebMadeClear will provide one free year of hosting, provided that the website is hosted on WebMadeClear’s servers. Service fees for hosting will be billed at normal rates thereafter.

WebMadeClear will purchase one standard priced domain for one year to use with the site, at a max value of $13.  After year one, normal domain renewal rates will apply.

 

For all questions about entry please contact [email protected]

 

San Francisco Web Design |How we Design Dream Websites

mobile website design in san francisco

San Francisco Web Design

Everyone has their own vision for what an ideal site looks like.  However, when designing a website function, creativity, and user experience have to be balanced. WebMadeClear is a leader in web design because of our experience and our approach.

When we first begin a web design project, our goal is to determine what the purpose of that site is. Does it take reservations and display an online menu, does it inform on the latest fashions and take orders, or does it communicate the story of a company and its rapid growth and success? We consider function first, because it will let us know what tools a website must have.

next, we explore the style of the website. Every website tells a story; it has a personality. Our job is to help you find the best way to communicate with your audience. What colors communicate a charity best? Does you company news page want to be serious or funny? What images will make your restaurant appetizing? By listening to your needs and showing you how to listen to your audience’s needs we can find your style.

WordPress Design in San Francisco

Most of our client’s sites are built in WordPress, a content-management-system that allows owners to easily update there sites. One of our first considerations in terms of experience is making sure that your site has every thing your viewers want and your WordPress dashboard has the tools you need to maintain it. Your site should have all the relevant information to your audience, but not so much that they are distracted form the most important content on your pages. Users need to have the ability to easily navigate your site on their phone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, or even television, which is why we design all of our sites to be responsive and mobile-ready. Most importantly, your users need to be able to take action. We know how to set up your online store, database, contact forms and web applications.

If you are looking for a website that does exactly what it is supposed to to, and also looks beautiful, contact the
Best Web Design Company in San Francisco

A Yelp Guide for Small Businesses

find us on yelp

 

users can make the transition from search to purchase in just a few moments.

Yelp. That is a loaded and sometimes scary word for small businesses.  If you have somehow managed to ignore it until now – stop!  It is time you took control of your Yelp Business Owner’s Account. Let’s begin.

Yelp is a review site and directory where users can go to find business information like an address and phone number and also read and write reviews about their experiences.  It essentially put Yellow Pages out of business due to its digital format and review feature.  But now, with Yelp’s recent acquisition of Eat 24 and other delivery companies, users can make the transition from search to purchase in just a few moments. Did that get your attention?  Yes, users can reserve a tee time, order Indian food, and schedule a doctors appointment from their phones, And, guess what?  Your customers prefer it that way.  When a customer wants a more efficient way to give you their money, you had better be doing all you can to ensure you are their to help.

 1. Getting Started

You start by claiming (or creating) your free Business Owner’s Account or, BOA.  Your account is free and, though some deceptive companies will try to tell you they will ‘manage’ or ‘unlock’ your Yelp account, it is no more difficult than setting up a Facebook page. Go to Yelp.com and search for your business.

search

If you find your business, just look for a claiming button on the right hand side or bottom of the page.

claim yelp

If it isn’t on any of the search pages (there can be a lot of them) then you will need to make a business profile by searching for this button at the bottom of the search page.

not here

Follow the setup or claiming directions which may involve email or phone verification.  And then you will be at your dashboard.

2. Reviews

Everyone is always talking about Yelp reviews, especially if they have bad ones. There are two things you need to get through your head. The first is that everyone will get a bad review, regardless of whether they deserve it or not, and it is not the end of the world!  The absolute worst thing you can possibly do is to react to a review.  Your business comments stay public and will do far more harm than a customer review.  Trust me, I have seen it happen oer and over again.  Reviews are the least of your concerns, I promise. The second thing is that if you try to manipulate reviews, you will probably end up hurting your rating for a much longer time.  Don’t do it.  Don’t pay for reviews, definitely don’t pay fro review services, and don’t write your own.  I repeat, reviews are the least of your concerns.  Moving on.

3. Business information

So, if reviews aren’t a concern, then what should I focus on?  How about getting customers in your door?  Is your address correct, your phone number?  Make sure your customers can find you.  You can change all of your info through your dashboard.  And you should.  Add photos, add a business description.  Treat your Yelp page like a mini site.  Take a look around Yelp and see what the 5 star businesses are doing with their pages.

Yelp Dashboard

4. Deals, Gift Certificates, Check-in offers, and Vendors:

  • A Yelp Deal: is a deal you offer, where you split the income with Yelp.  It is a Call to action on your Yelp page.  They can be useful to attract attention, but are often too costly, nearing 50% of the revenue going to Yelp.
  • Check-in Offers: are usually free and involve having a Yep user ‘check-in’ (tag themselves as at your location with their phone).  Almost always a good idea.  One place even offered free hugs as a check-in offer!
  • Yelp Gift Certificates are paid vouchers that users can redeem at your establishment, and come with terms of use.  Again, the part of the money goes to Yelp, but less than a deal.
  • Vendors: are companies like Eat 24 that might be available for your business depending on it’s category.

5. Advertising

Yelp offers advertising in Two forms.  One is a self-serve program you can sign up through your dashboard.  It works similar to Google AdWords, but is internal only to Yelp.  It can be very effective if you are in an industry like medical or auto, where customers spend a lot with you.  If you have a taco stand it probably isn’t worth the investment.

Then there is what Yelp calls Full service.  It is essentially the same thing, but it has a several hundred dollar a month minimum and it comes with a contract.  We highly advise against this route.

Both programs work on a similar principal. When users Yelp search for something related to your business, your business is shown to them as an ad right above the search results, or somewhere else on the site (Yelp is putting ads in lots of new places).

6. Stop the Sales Calls!

If you have a business listing on Yelp, chances are you will get a call or email from a Yelp rep trying to sell you ads.  The unsubscribe link is found at the bottom of the email.  When they call you say, “I am the business owner, and I want to be placed on your do not call list.”  That is literally the only thing you can say to stop them.  They are bound by law to put you on the DNC list, but not much else.

 

The bottom line is this.  Millions of people use Yelp with the purpose of spending money with a business. Make sure you are ready for them.

The Best WordPress Plugins You Need to Have

WordPress Plugin

There are over 36,000 WordPress Plugins available and, probably, even more blog posts about them.  So why write another post on plugins?  It could be that we have a pretty strong opinion about just about everything related to web development… or, it could be that most of our readers don’t have a favorite set of WordPress plugins ready to install.  We have outlined what we think are the most important and useful plugins based on what we install on our own client’s sites.  We didn’t list everything we have ever installed- just the best ones.

Security

Limit Login Attempts

If you only had the motivation to install one plugin, this is it.  The most important security vulnerability your site has is the ability to be hacked by brute-force.  Installing a plugin that limits the login attempts is the single best defense against scripts designed to guess their way into your account.  The downside to this plugin is that it is over 2 years old, and may not work in future updates of WordPress.  We haven’t had any issues as of yet, but a newer plugin called Login Lockdown may be a great alternative in the near future.

Akismet

This powerful plugin is designed to stop spammers by checking and comparing comments on millions of sites.  Akismet is considered the standard anti-spam plugin and is well supported.

Stop Spammer

Whether in addition to Akismet, or as a standalone anti-spam plugin, Stop Spammer is a fantastic preventative of comment spam.  It has loads of settings for tolerance and events, so you can customize how strict you want your filter to be.  You can even hold comments to be edited or deleted by admin.

iThemes Security

A crazy-powerful plugin called iThemes Security will help you beef up your security game. You can scan for malware, protect yourself against bots searching for vulnerabilities, and even hide your login page at a custom URL.  It even logs events like login attempts.

Administrative

WordPress SEO by Yoast

Want your site to be on the first page of Google for the most competitive keywords?  Hire a professional SEO consultantHint: Many SEO ‘gurus’ may offer cheap and fast solution, but their black hat tactics, will end up hurting your site in the long run.  But, if you don’t have tens-of-thousands to spend on search ranking, do not despair, there is quite a lot that you can do with some common sense and a great plugin. Here is what you do:

  1. Install WordPress SEO by Yoast
  2. Make sure to fill our your page titles
  3. Check that your permalinks are clean
  4. Use your target keywords in your page content at least a few times
  5. Give all of your images alt tags that are descriptive
  6. Write useful content on a regular basis

Other than that, try to get other sites to link you yours.  Remember, if you write great content visitors will want to link to your site.

Google Analyticator

Traditionally, your web developer would insert some code snippets into you pages and you could login to Google Analytics and see your site traffic, your bounce rate (the number of people leaving your page after only a few seconds), and more.  But what if all that information could be installed right in your dashboard?  Bam! Google Analyticator.

Broken Link checker

A simple, but very important plugin that checks to see if any of the links on your page no longer work.  You aren’t going to click on all of your links just to test them out every week and you certainly don’t want to hope that a reader reports one to you, so just install this plugin and be done with it.

W3 Total cache

Here is what the W3 plugin page has to say:

W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your site by increasing server performance, reducing the download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration.

Here is what we have to say:

It makes your site really fast.

BackUpWordPress

Agh! I just deleted my gallery page, and all of my photos and 10 hours of hard work are gone!  Good thing I installed BackUpWordPress, so all I have to do is go back a step.

Duplicator

Duplicator allows you to copy your WordPress site, with all of it’s themes and plugins so you can easily install a similar WordPress site somewhere else.  While most users may never need this, it is far too useful not to post.

CloudFlare

CloudFlare is awesome!  It acts as a firewall and a bandwidth manager all in one.  This plugin allows you to use CloudFlare on your WP site with just a few clicks.

Ultimate Nofollow

Everybody wants to promote their website, and that is ok.  However, when they are posting in comments on your site and you elect to ‘follow’ those links (give them credibility) your site can actually loose some valuable TrustRank with Google.  The best thing to do is to automatically no-follow all links in comments and, if you think it is necessary, in your contributor’s posts.  Be sure to follow the links to sites your do trust.  Think of a standard link as a referral, which sites do you want to put your name on?

Just Awesome

NextGen Gallery

There are a ton of gallery plugins out there because WordPress actually does not have a great default gallery editor.  Here is our favorite.  Try playing around with a few and you will be amazed at all of the extra functionality you will have.

WooCommerce

Finally, we will leave you with WooCommerce.  The single best eCommerce plugin around- period.  If you need to sell things on WordPress, this is the plugin to utilize.

 

With so many choices in plugins, be sure to check a few things before downloading and installing it on your site:

  • Is it safe?
    • Does it have a lot of downloads?
    • Who made it?
    • is it an official WP Plugin?
  • Is it going to work in a year from now?
    • Does it have several updates
    • Is it currently being supported?
    • When was it last updated?

If you would like any advice on plugins or you have one that you want to share, please leave us a comment below!  If you are a WebMadeClear client, you don’t need to worry about plugins.  We have installed an arsenal of them for security and functionality to make your website great!

Why Your Website Should be Built on WordPress

There are 28 million SMB’s in America Alone. 14 million of those businesses already have a website.  By 2020, as many as 4 million more businesses will need a website and 2-4 million will need their website redone.  If you are one of the 6 million small businesses that is looking to have a website created in the next 5 years, consider a WordPress website.

graph of number of small businesses with websites by year - webmadeclear

More and more businesses are realizing that they need a website.  With over half of SMB’s online now, it is easy to wonder whether this year is the year to establish your own online presence.  There are many reasons for your business to have a website, from providing basic information to selling items online.  In any case, having a WordPress Content Management System (CMS) has huge advantages.  WordPress is a software that allows anyone to update their own website with a simple interface.  Updating business information, company personnel, pictures and videos, and store items is now within the power of the not-so-computer-savvy.

According to a 2013 National Small Business Association survey, 19% of SMB’s decided not to get a website because they thought maintaining it would be too difficult, and 68% of SMB’s with websites think that keeping a website updated is the most difficult part of owning one.  So why aren’t all websites built with a CMS?  Good question!  WebMadeClear believes in empowering our clients, which is why we develop fully customized themes that are professionally designed and can be updated by anyone.

The DIY Website Guide

Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, Google, and WordPress logos on ice background

Why build your own website? Maybe you are just getting started and can’t afford to hire a professional web developer. Perhaps you are an avid do-it-your-self kind of woman. In any case, there are a multitude of options available for you to increase your online presence with little technical skills required.  This post will cover the some of the most popular website builders, software that allows you to design and use a website without a knowledge of coding.  Before we get into the pros and cons of these different software let’s cover the basics of how to build your own website.

The first thing to consider is function.  What is the purpose of your website?  Who is your intended audience, and what are they looking for?  Consider what you absolutely need first.  If you distract your visitors or make it too difficult for them to find what they need, they will leave your site and go somewhere else.  Your ability to design your site will be limited by the software you use to make it, so don’t try to design something overly fancy or complicated.  Look at well made websites that have information that is clearly marked and easy to find and base your own design off of those sites.  Try to find example sites made with the software you are thinking of using and consider browsing through Template / Themes to find a layout that works well for your needs.  The most important thing for you to consider is what content will go on each page, and how easy it is for your audience to find those pages.

Next comes design.  Again, you won’t have too much choice in where you put things on a page if you aren’t too HTML or PHP savvy, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to consider basic aesthetics.  Using a template or theme is a great way to ensure that your page works well together but if you choose to pick your own colors and fonts be sure to follow some basic guidelines.  Use only a couple of colors for your websites and use them for the same things throughout.  This means if you make the main body of your text black and one link green, then make all the links green.  And, if you chose black and green then don’t use blue for your menu.  Too many colors or inconsistent usage looks tacky and confuses readers.  Avoid the overuse of bold, italic, and underlined words, as well as exclamation points!!!!  NEVER USE ALL CAPS, EVER.  Choose a background color that is not overly bright and allows the text behind it to be ready easily.  Don’t worry about adding a ton of links or widgets or fancy buttons.  Keep your content simple, too the point, and relevant to your viewer.  It takes years to learn design and a lifetime to master, but for your first website remember: a great site should be easy to use, easy to read, and contain useful information.

The web design software you use will focus your design into sections such as: pages, posts, menus, galleries, and widgets through a Content Management System (CMS), a graphical interface that will allow you to update your website without any coding knowledge.  When you are using this software to design and update, you are probably looking at your dashboard.  For Example, here is our dashboard showing this blog post being made right now on our favorite CMS, WordPress.

 

The WordPress.org CMS

The WordPress.org CMS

After function, you need to choose a domain name that is easy to spell, remember, and shares your brand identity.  You can use a domain search to find out what names are available and how much they will cost per year.  You don’t need to worry about hosting for most software we will discuss.  All of the software we will mention here will be fully responsive meaning it will work on devices of all sizes,  including mobile phones and tablets.

Google sites is a free web-based tool that allows you to easily assembly basic websites.  There is limited customization, and no support,  but you don’t have to pay for hosting and you can map your custom chose domain name to your Google site.  These sites are not made to handle a lot of traffic, like an eCommerce site.

Weebly is an online software with a little more customization.  The pro version is under $7/mo, includes more customization tools, and allows the use of a custom domain.  The eCommerce version is under $19/ Mo.  You do not have to pay for hosting.  Website response times will be slower and less able to handle large volumes of traffic than a professional hosting service.

Wix is very similar to Weebly in is abilities.  They charge $4/mo to map a custom domain.  For $12-25/mo you can get an upgraded account with increased bandwidth and some basic support.

Squarespace also provides some basic tools to design. You can upgrade to a professional account for $16/mo and a pro for $24/mo (needed for eCommerce) both come with limited support.

WordPress.com is a very different beast.  It is a hosting service with a content management system, and uses much faster and more reliable connections than the previous software mentioned. A premium account is a little over $8/mo and a business account is $25/mo.  The Business version includes templates and better support.

WordPress.org is not a web service at all.  It is software to empower you.  You will need to pay for your own hosting that ranges from $5-10/mo and install the software. Our favorite host is, DreamHost, because they have the best support we have come across, but there are many options that are less costly.  Once you install the software you can browse thousands of free and paid themes and you have a lot of well supported and interesting widgets to add functionality to your site.

So why pay a web developer?  You will get a much more functional and professional looking design, have significantly more creative freedom, and ongoing support and services like SEO and website maintenance.  There is much more to building a website in terms of design.  However, if you want or need to try it yourself, the best thing to do is to read some documentation and watch a few videos on how to use a particular website builder.  From there, you will have a lot better idea of what is takes to be a do-it-yourself website designer.

Why You Need a Mobile Friendly Website Now

iPhone case after Roberu

Image Credit: Patrick Ng

Regardless of whether or not you think you are an online business, your business is online.  We always stress that each business, large or small, has an identity online and a website is the best way to claim that identity.  Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and others are a great way to promote your brand or product line, but serious consumers will ultimately head to a review site like Yelp or TripAdvisor or a business website before they make a purchase. The biggest mistake you can make is to not have a website to greet consumers who want to engage with your business online.

Most business owners feel that if they don’t have products to sell online, they don’t need a website.  After all, why invest the money?  The only problem is, their customers don’t feel the same way.  Your website is much more than a platform to sell goods.  It is a brand building, consumer engaging, decision making marketing tool!

A recent Hibu survey found that SMB’s may be missing out on as much as $1 Trillion by not having a mobile-friendly website.  Be honest with yourself, and put yourself in the consumer’s shoes.  If you found a tire shop nearby and you wanted to check out their prices, would you spend the time to squint at there non-responsive webpage on your iPhone, hoping to find the link to pricing or, would you hop back to Google and click on the next page?  If you found a restoration company on Facebook but a website was nowhere to be found, would you trust them with $50K of your money? A professional looking businesses website makes your business look competent, modern, and trustworthy.

There is no sense in having a great looking website that only works on desktops or laptops.  Those days came and went a long time ago. A comScore report showed that 60% of all web traffic is mobile. That number is up almost 10% from last year.  The numbers don’t lie: tablets and smartphones are the media on which the majority of consumers are searching for, and engaging with businesses.

Graph of Mobile Traffic increasing to 60%

Mobile Traffic Increased by 10% in the last year-  Image Source

Don’t think your website has to be passive, like an online business card.  With content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, you can easily utilize a blog or a specials page to drive more business to your doors.  According to Business Wire’s recent article, just a small amount of holiday marketing can yield high results for small businesses.  Their survey found that around 50% of SMB’s spent less than $500 on holiday promotions and still saw great returns.

More and more Americans are using search engines like Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo to find businesses near them or products they need.  When they find your business, what do you want them to see?  Use your website to capture their attention, to show them what makes you different, and to convert them into a customer.  Your website is a marketing tool; make sure it works.