The future is exciting

In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt. What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years – and most people don’t see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again? Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore’s law. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became way superior and got mainstream in only a few short years. It will now happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs. Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Welcome to the Exponential Age.

Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the US, young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% fewer lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain. Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 time more accurate than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. By 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.

Autonomous Cars: In 2018 the first self-driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% fewer cars for that. We can transform former parking space into parks. 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000 km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km. That will save a million lives each year.

Most car companies may become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. I spoke to a lot of engineers from Volkswagen and Audi; they are completely terrified of Tesla.

Insurance Companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.

Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.

Electric cars won’t become mainstream until 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all cars will run on electric. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can only now see the impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. The price for solar will drop so much that all coal companies will be out of business by 2025.

With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. We don’t have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.

Health: There will be companies that will build a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and you breathe into it. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medicine, nearly for free.

3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large number of spare parts they used to have in the past.

At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they already 3D printed a complete 6-storey office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.

Business Opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: “in the future, do you think we will have that?” and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner? If it doesn’t work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed in to failure in the 21st century.

Work: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time.

Agriculture: There will be a $100 agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in 3rd world countries can then become managers of their field instead of working all days on their fields. Agroponics will need much less water. The first Petri dish produced veal is now available and will be cheaper than cow-produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows. Imagine if we don’t need that space anymore. There are several startups that will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labeled as “alternative protein source” (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).

There is an app called “moodies” which can already tell in which mood you are. Until 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where it’s being displayed when they are telling the truth and when not.

Bitcoin will become mainstream this year and might even become the default reserve currency.

Longevity: Right now, the average life span increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years, now it’s 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more than one year increase per year. So we all might live for a long long time, probably way more than 100.

Education: The cheapest smart phones are already at $10 in Africa and Asia. Until 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smart phone. That means, everyone has the same access to world class education.

Robert M. Goldman MD, PhD, DO, FAASP
World Chairman-International Medical Commission
Co-Founder & Chairman of the Board-A4M
Founder & Chairman-International Sports Hall of Fame
Co-Founder & Chairman-World Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine
President Emeritus-National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
Chairman-U.S. Sports Academy’s Board of Visitors

How to ghost yourself on the interweb

Can you ever really disappear from a world where your face is plastered all over Facebook, your location is stamped all over Instagram, and your private messages are stored in a permanent “cloud” somewhere?

There’s a handful of websites and apps, such as DeleteMe and JustDelete.Me, which can help you to “disappear” online by automatically deleting your public profiles. But if you’d prefer a more “hands-on” and thorough approach, this infographic by Who Is Hosting This? gives a step-by-step guide on how to pull the plug on your Internet presence, as much as you realistically can.

It’s worth considering that the best way to obscure your online presence is by being cautious about what you sign up to and by maintaining a low profile from the get-go. While these tricks can help you get yourself off the radar, it’s more or less impossible to remove all traces of your online presence. But with these tips, you can certainly make it more difficult, especially for the layman, to get their hands on your precious information.





Web Design Pricing

Web design costs come in a huge range of shapes & sizes. Thanks to that range, clients can struggle with understanding why websites cost what they do, and freelancers/shops can struggle with how to price their services.

That’s what we’re going to uncover: the thought processes, variables, logic, and math that goes into pricing web design. I’ll focus on one specific end of the spectrum: custom web design and development. While DIY web platforms like Squarespace definitely have their place, their pricing models are pretty straightforward and easy to understand. The custom side of web design & development? Not so much.

So buckle up, and let’s get our learn on.

How is the Cost for a Web Project Calculated?

There are a bunch of answers to the question, “how do you price out a web design project?”, so I’ll speak for our processes at Sparda Design – similar processes are followed by many reputable web shops that we’re friends with, so I feel there is validity there.

With the exception of projects that use a value-based pricing model – a rabbit hole I’m not going to get into right now, and an instance fewer of you will encounter – most website projects offer the standard trade of money for time. Couple on to that additional expenses, such as domains; hosting; photography and so on, and you have your end cost.

Seems pretty straightforward, right? Then why will you get 10 different prices from 10 different shops on the same project?

Why Web Design Quotes Vary So Widely

Project prices are volatile because the two key variables – hourly rate, and hours to complete the work – are two widely changing variables from shop to shop and project to project. For example, if two shops estimate 100 hours for initial development time, but their hourly rates are $80/hr vs. $180/hr, then you’re going to get a big variance in cost for that one line item.

And that’s only if one of those two variables changes.

Understanding Hourly Rate

So why do shops have such widely ranging hourly rates? It depends on a few things:

-how established the shop is
-the quality of work they do
-good old supply and demand
-the overhead of the shop, and more.
Our hourly rate at Sparda is $120/hr. That still feels like a big number to me, and definitely to some clients, but the method to which we arrived at our shop rate is a logical and ethical one. So, why $120 an hour?

web design cost

I’ve mentioned this before, but our current hourly rate came about this way: a mentor of mine who runs a big shop – one who does great work – broke the numbers down over beers and napkin math for me (suffice to say a beer in payment wasn’t enough, but I digress). When we factor in items like:

sick days
vacation time
office, software, hardware etc. overhead
the shop’s percentage of billable time
holiday time and more,
we need to charge $120/hr if we want to pay an average employee salary of $50K across the board – a totally reasonable salary, if a little low in our industry & market. The quality of work we do at Sparda Design and the fact we have a growing project list supports that decision.

What it boils down to is this: we’re charging that amount so we can pay our team members a reasonable salary (they deserve more, in my opinion). We’re not charging that amount to gouge our clients or to get gold grills with our logo on ’em, and we’re not picking random numbers out of thin air. Our clients want to pay their employees fairly and create a sustainable business – so do we. So should you, fellow web professional.

What it means, also, is that every web design freelancer or shop is not a perfect match for every client. For some, we’re too expensive. For others, at 6 people, we don’t have the manpower to tackle huge jobs. It’s all part of finding the right match for the project.

Complexity, Features, and Time to Complete

The second big variable in figuring out project cost is the hours it will take to complete the work. Sometimes I feel like this is the biggest area of confusion between web designers/developers and their clients. Raise your hand if you’ve ever fielded an email with a remark like “a simple client login area”.

*raises hand*

If a client hasn’t worked in or on a web project before, chances are good they just don’t have the background knowledge to understand the amount of work that can go into a seemingly simple feature request like “a simple client login area”.

The parallel I like to draw is with myself and cars – I know how to drive a car (debatable) and that’s about it. So when my power locks stopped working and I brought my car into the shop to “fix the power locks”, it seemed simple to me. Little did I know that the issue goes back to the entire electrical system. So my simple “fix the power locks please” request isn’t so simple… in fact, it’s a huge amount of work.

Also, I hate cars.

Anyway, that’s what it’s like for a lot of clients when it comes to website design, costs, and feature requests. All we can do as web designers is explain clearly what goes into that request, work-wise, in order to make sure the end result is functioning as it should.

Unpacking Features & Proper Estimating

Accurate estimating is another huge can of worms, but I’ll touch on it briefly here because it’s a need-to-know item. When it comes to estimating the time it’ll take for a custom web project, the shop needs to fully understand everything that is requested from the client, and everything recommended from the shop – if not, someone’s going to get burned.

Here’s an ultra-simple example. Say you’re working on a portfolio site for an interior designer. You know you, as the shop completing the work, need to create a section of the site that showcases the clients’ work. They’ll be supplying the photos. Seems simple enough, right? But did you know that your client is expecting this section to:

have a “featured” project that’s always at the top of the page?
support both landscape and portrait-orientation photos?
have password-protected sections for private projects?
allow the client to arrange the projects in a variety of ways (not just reverse chronological)?
And so on. This simple example means that a section you originally estimated 8 hours to design and 12 hours to develop is now going to take 12 hours to design and 24 hours to develop. Who’s on the hook for that extra cost – you or the client?

Having a deep understanding of the feature set of not just the site, but of each section, is the only way to accurately estimate a web design project. The path to this deep understanding is via a solid needs assessment.

Lastly, while estimating time is tough, we can look back on past projects to get a baseline of what to expect. We use a great little app called Harvest that cumulatively tracks time across our whole shop. We run it for everything, day in and day out, which allows us to look back on past similar projects and use real data to estimate future jobs very accurately. It also helps us stay on budget through the course of a project.

Putting it All Together: A Real Web Design Project Estimate

Most shops will break down all the elements of a project into line items, estimate the time for each, and multiply that time by their hourly rate. That’s exactly what we do.

Here’s a sample from a past, project of ours:

Research 6h x $120 = $720
Wireframing 4h x $120 = $480
Design 8h x $120 = $960
WordPress Development 65h x $120 = $7,800
Browser & Device Testing 4h x $120 = $480
Bug Fixes, Revision & Polish 4h x $120 = $480
Content Entry 4h x $120 = $480
Stock Photography = $360
TOTAL (95h x $120)+$360 = $11,760
That’s basically it: from explaining hourly rates, to figuring out time estimates, to putting it all together. When you break it down piece by piece, it’s much easier to understand.

If you’re a freelancer or running a shop, I hope you’ve done the math to come to your hourly rate – and I hope you’re tracking time. If you’re instead looking to buy web design services, I hope my rambling has helped you understand what goes on inside that black box. After all, everything is simpler when both parties understand the process.

What kind of website do I need?

Embarking on the journey to get a new website can be daunting. You don’t know the terminology. You don’t know what you want. You don’t know what you need. In fact, you don’t know even where to begin.

I’m here to help you figure it all out!
There is one main question you need to ask yourself first:

What do you want people to do once they land on your site?

This could be as simple as look around the site and learn about your business, or it could be you want them to buy products that you are selling, or contact you about services you offer. Once you know what your ultimate goal is for site visitors, then we can help you figure out the right site to meet your needs.

Most of our sites are WordPress sites and there’s a lot of flexibility and development options for sites within WordPress that can make it a simple project to a much more complicated one. Knowing your desired outcome is the first step in establishing what your site will need.

Other questions you might ask yourself:

What domain do I want?
How will I know if my site is working?
How often will I need to update it?
Will I want to do the updates myself, or will I have my developer do that?
Knowing the answers to these questions will guide you on the path to making informed decisions.

A few types of websites we can help you with:

This is a website that is mostly just for sharing information. You want people to come to your site to learn about you and services you offer, and possibly even contact you via a simple contact form. This is often the simplest type of website we do.
I want my users to be able to do something on my site, such as book an event, read and comment on my blog, become a member, etc. These can be fairly simple, or can be very complex depending on what your needs are.
This is a site where you are selling products and collecting payment for those products. This can be a simple site that has 10 products and accepts payments via Paypal, or a complex site that sells hundreds of products and offers multiple payment and shipping options.
Need help with your website? we’ll help you figure out what you need, make appropriate recommendations, and help you navigate the maze. Contact us for a quote today.

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