Bright Tribe Founder Celebrating 20 Years as an Atlanta Web Designer

Not many web designers in Atlanta can claim to have 20 years of experience under their belt. But this year, Bright Tribe founder and President, Brian Dempsey, is celebrating!

“It’s really quite remarkable when I think of how long I’ve been doing web design and online marketing,” says Dempsey. “When I think of how many web designers have come and gone, I’m really thankful that we’re still around – and doing great work. In fact, we’re busier than ever!”

So what’s the secret to being a successful web designer for so long?

“Never stop learning,” Brian was quick to point out. “Things change, and you have to be willing to adapt quickly, or you’ll get left behind.” This can be seen in Bright Tribe’s focus on WordPress web design. When Bright Tribe was founded, the emphasis was on custom, enterprise level development that took a team of programmers and developers sometimes six months to deliver. Now, however, Bright Tribe is able to deliver beautiful, highly functional websites in weeks rather than months.

Another important aspect to Bright Tribe’s success is their focus on their clients’ business needs rather than technology and platforms. “When we talk to clients,” says Dempsey, “our focus is on understanding their business and marketing needs. We try to understand how they make money and how we can help to shorten the sales cycle, increase profitability and expand their brand awareness online. It’s not about their website, it’s about their business.”

20 years of Website Design

Although it’s impossible to track all of the changes in web design over the last 20 years, it’s amazing to think that we’ve gone from dial-up, text only websites to animated GIFs and table formatting, to the world of “Web 2.0” with its interactive media to today’s mobile, device-independent social web.

 

 

 

What You Need to Know about Choosing an Atlanta Web Designer

Atlanta Web Design

Are you looking for an Atlanta website designer? With over 20 years of experience in web design and online marketing, Bright Tribe provides superior service and a breath of knowledge that cannot be found in most web design companies. Having worked with hundreds of clients on just as many projects, there are very few things we’ve not seen or done.

Our Focus

Think of David and Goliath. We work with a lot of privately owned companies who want to grow their business online. Many of our clients are smaller players competing with much larger companies for market share and brand awareness. We enable our clients to compete with their top competitors online – and win. To do this, Bright Tribe is laser focused on our core services: designing beautiful, highly functional, business-oriented, corporate identity websites with a strong foundation in search engine optimization and social media marketing. Over the years we’ve honed our skills to leverage over two decades of experience in online marketing to help

Our Approach to Atlanta Web Design

Years ago web design in Atlanta companies would provide clients with “mockups” – flat, static design comps of what your website could look like. That’s old school, and agencies that still do it are well behind the times.

At Bright Tribe we work with live, working prototypes of your WordPress website so you can get a feel for how your site will actually function and scale on multiple devices – and how users will interact with the various features and elements of your site. Live prototyping means we get your site designed quicker and more affordably by getting client feedback on a real working website. We review your website design throughout the process using Join.me to keep the project moving quickly.

Why We Use WordPress

Simply put, WordPress is best solution for small to medium sized businesses who want a scalable, highly supported, non-proprietary solution for their website management. Nearly 1 out of every 5 websites on the Internet is run on WordPress. It’s the most highly supported, open-source platform on the planet. That means that you’re not locked into someone’s proprietary CMS or left high and dry if they go out of business. And with our WordPress support and security platform, we keep your website up-to-date, backed up and secure with both a firewall and malware scan to ensure your investment is protected.

How to Get Started

Well, it’s pretty simple. Give us a call at 678-267-3267. We’ll talk about what you’d like to do online. If you have an existing website, we’ll review that in detail with you. We’ll ask about your competition, other sites you like and changes you’d like to see in the way your website functions. We will discuss photography, content writing and how we approach search engine optimization. And, if you have time, we’ll fire up Join.me to do a screen share session and show you some of our work and a little behind the scenes.

We know you have lots of choices when looking for an Atlanta web designer. And having been in business for 20 years, we believe we’re doing a lot of things right. So give us a call today and see if Bright Tribe is a good fit for your next project.

Do you need a WordPress developer or designer for your project?

It happens all the time – folks will call and tell me they found Bright Tribe looking for a WordPress developer. Whenever I hear that I chuckle because I’m the furthest thing from a “developer.” Typically, the word developer implies programmer – someone who gets their hands dirty in the code and talks native geek. In my mind, I always picture a small room of guys with their Beats on, staring blankly into a computer monitor all day and playing Halo on the network during breaks. I’m NOT a WordPress developer.

Rather, I’m a designer. That’s one of the beauties of WordPress. Back in the day it was important to have a whole room full of developers writing custom code and programming things to make them work. For the most part, with the kinds of clients I work with anyway, those days are long gone. Sure, on occasion, I work with developers on specific projects to get something technical done, but that’s not the norm.

So What’s the Difference between a Developer and Designer?

At Bright Tribe, we focus like a laser beam on “developing” beautiful, mobile-responsive, highly intuitive, corporate identity WordPress websites with a strong foundation in search engine and social media marketing. Designers have a focus on the the visual strategy, the usability and message of the website. Designers tend to be concerned with what user think, feel and do on the website – rather than the functionality under the hood.  That’s what we do – and we’re really good at it. Developers on the other hand, tend to be more concerned about how it work from a code perspective – not how usable it is.  So, if you’re looking for someone to write some custom functionality to tie into your inventory management system or you need to develop a custom plugin for your site, etc…we’re not the right fit.

But if you need to redesign your outdated WordPress website and make it look fantastic on both the computer and mobile devices – if you want to increase your brand awareness and online leads/sales, give us a call today at 678-267-3267.

Interview with Brian Dempsey, Founder of Bright Tribe

How long have you been doing web design?

Short Answer: Nearly 20 years.

Long Answer: A lot longer than most people around! I’ve been building websites for nearly 20 years. I started when the Internet was only a few years old and have been doing it full time for nearly 17 years. That makes me like a great, great grandfather in Internet years!

How did you get into this business?

Short Answer: By accident.

Long Answer: That’s kind-of a funny story. At the time I was in a small church and the pastor designed the church “web page.” I also had a couple of buddies who had started messing around with HTML. I figured it was something I could do, so I bought a used computer and spent $179 for FrontPage ’97 at Wal-Mart, and I was off! I converted the 4’x8’ storage room in the back of my garage into an office and spent hundreds of hours learning the software to build my first website.

Tell me about your first paying client?

Short Answer: $250 for 400 hours!

Long Answer: Actually, I built my first website for a friend at work. At the time I was a trainer for an automotive manufacturing company, and at break one day a friend told me his wife needed a website. I convinced him to pay me $250. The name of the business was Georgia’s Front Porch. It was a bunch of knick-knacks and items related to Georgia. By the time it was finished, I’m sure I didn’t make more than $0.30/hour. I also had a client in the early days that paid me $35/hour – half cash and half merchandise! That was pretty cool. I thought I was really making the money (and everybody got t-shirts and books for Christmas that year!).

What roles have you had during your career as a web designer?

Short Answer: Just about everything.

Long Answer: I started out like most folks as a freelancer. I worked for small businesses that came to me by referral. Later, I worked for Larry Burkett at Christian Financial Concepts. I managed their technical support department, but I also helped out some with their Internet department before becoming the Internet Development Manager for AccessNorthGeorgia.com. That was a pretty cool job. When I started they had the idea of building a regional news portal, but at the time it was nothing but a flow chart on a piece of paper. I was able to hire the team and oversee the development of a major online news outlet in Georgia. After that, I left with two of my co-workers to start our first web design agency, Red Clay Interactive. They’re still around after 17 years doing amazing work! I was their first Creative Director and later served as VP Client Strategy where I oversaw the visual strategy, usability, messaging and overall online marketing of every project. I left Red Clay nearly ten years ago to start Bright Tribe. I’m not too hung up on titles. I’m the founder, President…whatever. Most folks don’t ask. But I’m extremely hands on in the day-to-day development of websites.

Why do you use WordPress?

Short Answer: WordPress is awesome!

Long Answer: That’s easy! WordPress is awesome. Seriously. For years everything we did was custom, enterprise-level development that took a team of Georgia Tech computer science guys to complete. Projects were expensive, took a long time complete and were a nightmare to manage over time. With WordPress, however, we’re able to get sites finished in a fraction of the time – weeks instead of months – and do it very affordably. Instead of paying for a lot of custom programming, our clients pay for us to think. We’re problem solvers and help our clients grow their revenue and brand awareness online. WordPress is just a tool, but it’s a dang good one. It also helps to have everyone on the same page so we don’t have to support a bunch of different kinds of websites.

How much does it cost to build a website?

Short Answer: How much does it cost to build a house?

Long Answer: I get this question a lot, especially when I mention that I do web design. And I always give the same answer: how much does it cost to build a house? I mean, I can bring one in for you and take the wheels off, put it up on blocks, and you have a house! Or I can buy the land with the perfect view, pay an architect to draw up plans, buy the nicest finishes and fixtures and spend a fortune.

Seriously, though, in the past our average web design project would be between $30-50K.  We did much bigger projects and they were all custom. Today, however, about half of our projects are in the $3-6K range and the rest can go as high as $25K or so. There’s a lot that goes into the price of a project – from the size, functionality, photography, writing, search engine optimization, etc. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to web design.

What do you think about buying WordPress themes?

Short Answer: Be careful, but they can be great!

Long Answer: I hear folks all the time who talk negatively about buying a WordPress theme. That kind of talk usually comes from “purists” who think you have to code every line of your website or it’s just “bad.” The reality is, however, that every WordPress website is built on a theme.  Most companies that say build “custom” WordPress sites often start from their own internal theme framework. They don’t really start from scratch. At Bright Tribe we do a lot of “theme customization” where we work with premium, high quality themes that we purchase. We make sure they are highly supported, kept up-to-date, are not bloated with a lot of junk you don’t need and can be highly customized to fit our clients’ needs. It helps us keep our costs competitive, provide outstanding work that gets results and get sites done quickly. At the end of the day it’s a win-win.

What inspires you?

Short Answer: Learning something new and getting paid to do what I love.

Long Answer: I have the best job in the world! It’s absolutely amazing to me that I get paid to do what I do. I love the feeling of working with business owners or smaller businesses where what I do has a direct impact on their business, sales, etc. I also love learning something new every day. You’d think after nearly 20 years, there wouldn’t be too much to learn, but because of the exponential growth of web-based technology, it’s hard to keep up. Whether a new social media platform in beta or some new plugin or tool I get to test out on a site, I typically do something different every day.

What kind of education do you have?

Short Answer: 1 semester of college.

Long Answer: It really surprises folks to learn that I didn’t finish college. In fact, I didn’t even finish my first year! Because of the success of both of my companies – with clients literally all over the globe – folks just assume I have some kind of fancy degree. In realty, when we started our first web design company there was not a single college degree in web design – and hardly any courses – offered at any university in the United States. It was a brand new thing. I learned by spending thousands (and thousands!) of hours reading, in the code and working with other people. The whole marketing and branding side of things comes very intuitively for me. And I’d be amiss not to mention that we also had a fantastic mentor. For the first couple years at Red Clay we meet every couple of weeks with a guy named Gordon Sawyer, the founder of Sawyer, Riley, Compton advertising agency. He poured into three young guys who were really talented but didn’t know anything about running an agency. You couldn’t pay for that kind of education!

What’s some of the best advice you received in business?

Short Answer: Hire smart people and pay them well. Learn from other successful people.

Long Answer: There are two things that really stand out to me: 1) Hire people better, smarter and with more experience than you – and pay them well. 2) Learn from other successful business people – even outside of your industry. We took both of these to heart. When we started our first company, I did all of the creative work and that was fine. But as we grew, and our clients grew, I really didn’t have the experience or talent to provide what our clients needed, so we hired another Creative Director. And I was fine with that. The company was bigger than my ego, and it really made a difference. As for the second piece of advice, I remember that we met with one of our clients, an oral surgeon, in our early days who gave us some great advice about how to structure incentives and handle insurance. He was well-known and had a successful practice, and his insight really helped us.

What advice would you give somebody who wanted to get into web design or online marketing?

Short Answer: Realize you don’t have to do it all yourself. Intern to see what you like.

Long Answer: First, figure out what you love doing – how you’re wired. At nearly agency you have folks with a broad diversity of backgrounds and skills – from journalism majors who write content and blog posts, to computer science folks who program and write code to graphic designers and project managers, information architects and social media specialists, etc. It takes a team. Very rarely do you find one guy who does it all – or even most of these things. Secondly, start now. Whatever your interest, start now by working on your own website, helping a friend or doing small projects for free to get some experience. Third, learn from the best. Get on YouTube, Twitter and join email newsletters that provide quality information to keep you informed about the industry. Next, see about an internship with an agency or web design company. If they don’t have something available, call them up and ask if you can go to lunch or come by a couple days and watch and learn. It’s a great way to see what people really do. Finally, get an education. It’s really difficult today to get into this field without some kind of college education. But if you do the things above, you’ll have a much better idea the kinds of classes and major you need to pursue.

How do you like working with your wife?

Short Answer: I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Long Answer: I don’t know what I’d do without Holly. She’s my right arm in the business. She does all the invoicing, keeps the books, helps with a lot of the “grunt” tasks and makes sure things don’t fall through the cracks. She’s the one who reminds me to call or email folks and keep things moving forward. She’s awesome.

On a personal note, what do you do for fun?

Short Answer: Watch basketball, read books, fish and work on my truck.

Long Answer: Well, I’ve been married for over 25 years, and I love spending time with my wife. And we have four kids that are currently 20, 19, 18 and 16. So that keeps us pretty busy! We have 2 in college and one more next year. We go to a lot of basketball games because all of my kids play. And I love to read. I have a pretty large library – several thousand volumes. So I always have a couple of books on my desk that I’m reading. And when it’s warmer, I like to fish. I’ll sit out nearly all night long on the banks of Lake Lanier fishing for catfish, but I’m not a pro by any stretch. It’s just relaxing. Finally, I just bought a new truck – well, it’s new to me. It’s an ’06 Toyota Tacoma crew cab. I’ve spent a little bit (ok, a good bit) of money fixing it up. That’s fun.

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If you have any questions for Brian, be sure to drop us a note or leave a comment below.

WordPress Redesign for Foodmate, International Equipment Manufacturer

After a frustrating experience with another developer – and long delays in their timeline – Foodmate turned to Bright Tribe to start from scratch to develop a new site that was consistent with their existing brand but also provided the flexibility they needed to grow for years to come. Bright Tribe worked closely with Foodmate’s internal marketing department on both layout, design and functional requirements. The end result is a world-class website that is mobile-responsive and easy to update – and that also supports their North American sales by providing detailed product information in an intuitive and compelling way.

FoodmateHome

Foodmate is a leading poultry processing equipment manufacturer based in the Netherlands. Founded by industry experts in early 2006, the company quickly expanded its worldwide distribution into North and South America with the launch of Foodmate US in 2010. Foodmate has since become the committed and reliable partner of major poultry processing companies worldwide.

Visit Site: www.foodmateus.com

Keeping Your WordPress Website and Plugins Up-to-date is Absolutely Vital

It’s absolutely vital to keep your WordPress website up-to-date with the latest version of WordPress and to ensure your plugins are up-to-date.

Within the last 2 weeks many WordPress websites have been attacked with malware, causing their websites to be corrupted. This attack was so serious, at one point WordPress issued 3 updates with 24 hours!

This week has been a wake-up call for several clients who haven’t updated their websites in a few years. Two sites in particular were affected. So I’ve spent a lot of time this week restoring one site from backups (thankfully!) and having to completely rebuild another site using the content and assets that were still available from the WordPress dashboard (after a lot of work to get there!). Needless to say, if these sites were kept current, the chances of being affected by malware or other attacks would be greatly diminished.

Now that they’re up and live, we’ve put these sites on our website support package where we perform full backups of the database and files, update WordPress and all plugins, and most importantly perform a compatibility audit where we double-check the site’s functionality on weekly or monthly basis – depending on the size of the site.

If you have a WordPress website that hasn’t been updated in years, give us a call. Let us check out your website and make sure everything is up-to-date and running correctly. If your site is vital to your business and marketing, don’t let it go down because of something that could have been prevented.

Google Algorithm Update Scheduled for Today May Affect Your Search Rank

Google has announced a major update to their ranking algorithm will roll out today. And in the SEO world it’s called #MOBILEGEDDON. This new algorithm will now take into account whether a site is “mobile-friendly” when considering how a page ranks in SERP. Google’s own Zineb Ait Bahajji from the Webmaster Trends team said this update will have “more of an impact on Google’s search results than the Google Panda update and the Google Penguin update did.” This is huge news, especially if your website isn’t mobile-friendly!

Only Searches on Mobile Devices Will be Affected

In other words, you won’t see a difference in your site’s rankings on desktop computers or laptops as a result of this update. However, according to Smart Insights, 80% of Internet users search using their smartphones – and 48% of these searches start on search engines. If your site isn’t mobile-responsive, you’ll be missing out on a huge opportunity to market to millennials who typically search on multiple devices across multiple user sessions.

It’s Either Mobile-Friendly…or It’s Not.

Seriously. If you have to “pinch and scale” to view the content on your website on a smartphone, it’s not mobile-friendly. If your site is built to a “fixed width” then it’s not mobile-friendly. But if you want to be sure, you can use Google Webmasters’ Mobile-Friendly Test to see if Google views your site as mobile-friendly. This is what you want to see:

mobile-friendly

Additionally, if your site is mobile responsive, then it should have a gray “Mobile-friendly” badge on the search results page – and not be affected.

It Will Take a Few Days to Roll Out

Google’s own Algorithm Q&A says, “we are expecting it [the mobile-friendly algorithm] to roll out on April 21st. We don’t have a set time period because it is going to take a couple of days to roll out, maybe even a week or so.”

What Can You Do?

Remember, this update is not about Google “penalizing sites;” it’s about delivering the best experience to its users across all devices. If your website is not mobile-friendly – and it’s important for you to reach mobile users – you can still get ahead of this update. Most of the time it’s faster and less expensive to build a visually compelling, mobile-responsive WordPress website than to try to retrofit an older website. And by developing your site in WordPress with Bright Tribe, you’re not only getting a mobile-friendly site, but one that’s built with SEO best-practices to help your site achieve top rankings and look great when viewed on smartphones and tablets.

Finally, if your site is not mobile-friendly and your are negatively affected by the update, as soon as your new, mobile-responsive site is live, Google will recognize the change, and your site will again show up in search engine results pages. However, it may take time to regain your rankings – so act now!

If you’d like to talk to someone about your site feel free to contact us today!

WordPress Website Redesign for Maranatha Christian Academy

Bright Tribe is thrilled to launch the new MCA website. This pro-bono project was completed to coincide with their annual fundraiser and in time for next year’s registration. After reviewing dozens of Christian school websites across the country, Bright Tribe proposed an extensive expansion of their current content to create the most comprehensive, user-friendly private Christian school website in the region.

mca-wordpress-screenshot

And because the website was designed in WordPress, updates can be managed in real-time by multiple administrators in an intuitive, user-friendly CMS. One of the primary reasons for the updating their old website was because of a complicated CMS that made it too difficult to make simple site updates.

Additionally, an important requirement for this project was to ensure the site and site features were fully mobile-responsive. This includes not only the homepage, but more importantly their online giving feature. After researching several options, Bright Tribe recommended and implemented SimpleGive for secure donations that can support desktop, mobile, text and kiosk giving.

http://mcageorgia.com

Managed WordPress Hosting just got a Fresh New Redesign

Bright Tribe was thrilled to work with FireStarter Hosting to design a new WordPress website for their hosting business. With both traditional cPanel Linux hosting and up-graded Managed WordPress Hosting, FireStarter provides everything a company needs for personal or corporate website hosting – including domain name registration, email plans and security.

FireStarter wanted a fresh, contemporary site that appealed to web developers and designers. The color palette is fresh and vibrant. And the website was designed to be mobile-responsive and render beautifully across all devices – from smartphones to tablets to PC’s.

FireStarter Hosting

 

FireStarter WordPress Hosting

FireStarter Security

 

 

WordPress Redesign for The Birdsey Group – In Only 48 Hours!

The Birdsey Group reached out to Bright Tribe to redesign their outdated WordPress website. One of the great things about using WordPress is that it typically makes redesigning a website simple and affordable. Our task was straight-forward: utilize the limited amount of existing content and site architecture to develop a mobile responsive website that was visually compelling and on par with some of the larger competitors in their industry. It isn’t always easy to make a small site look big; but the full width, parallax design and professional photography really took their site to a new level.

UPDATE:

When the client took over the website, their internal staff made changes to the site including the selection of images, slider heights, marketing messages, slogans, etc. These updates have significantly degraded the visual appeal of the website. You can see the original work we did for them in the screenshots below, but please note that we did NOT do what you see on their live website.

The Birdsey Group - Old Site
The Birdsey Group - New Site
About Birdsey Group Screenshot
Services Screenshot - The Birdsey Group

WordPress Prototype within 48 Hours

Bright Tribe delivered the initial working prototype of the site within 48 hours – complete with professional photography, clear calls to action, and a more user-friendly layout for their primary pages. And after only a few tweaks, we were ready to go live! The entire project from initial design to final delivery took only 1 week. The end result is a fantastic looking new site that goes a long way in establishing a strong online presence that they can build on for years to come.

Do you have an existing WordPress site that needs some love? Is your site mobile-friendly? Do you have great content but a design that needs to be refreshed? If you’d like to talk to someone who can help give your WordPress website a makeover, call today at 678-267-3267 – and ask for Brian.

ATLANTA WEB DESIGN FROM BRIGHT TRIBE

Looking for an Atlanta website designer, then contact us today, and we can start the conversation. We look forward to hearing from you.