New Partner: Pam Weil and Associates

Pam Weil Associates Matt Borghi Lansing Web Design

I’m really excited to announce that I’m going to be working very closely with Pam Weil and Associates, a highly-esteemed East Lansing tech firm led by Pam Weil. I started working with Pam and her team in her recent bid for Ingham County Commissioner and it was an incredibly satisfying experience. Pam has a deep knowledge of tech, business and how all of these things can be brought together with digital strategy.

A Deep Bench

One of the most exciting parts about working with Pam Weil and Associates is the deep bench that she’s developed. With years of experience in the East Lansing community and working at Michigan State University, she has designers, network people, system architects and all kinds of tech specialists she can mobilize in just about any type of engagement.

Mission and Purpose

However, the single greatest thing that Pam Weil understands, within the scope of how she runs her firm, Pam Weil and Associates is the soul of an organization. First and foremost, Pam has a motto that she says often: “The single greatest motivator is progress on meaningful work” and she manages her business and help people with that motto always in mind. Pam truly believes that meaningful work is the most important thing that we can be doing as referenced in another quote, from John Berger, that she shared with me:

“As soon as one is engaged in a productive process,” he wrote in an essay on Leopardi, “total pessimism becomes improbable. This has nothing to do with the dignity of labor or any other such crap; it has to do with the nature of physical and psychic human energy…. Work, because it is productive, produces in man a productive hope.”

Here’s a little more about Pam Weil and Associates from their website:

Pam Weil & Assoc. is led by veteran IT leader, Pam Weil, who holds the highest level of of DR/Disaster Recovery certification, as well as a being ITIL certified professional with extensive experience in ITIL/DevOps. With years of experience leading IT operations, management and digital strategy, Pam has an acute knowledge of how all the pieces of IT and digital services come together and the knowledge to glean insights from where they intersect.

Pam Weil & Assoc. has a strong network and a deep bench of experts in all areas of IT and digital services, because of that network we offer a wide range of services to our clients. We specialize in delivering the service and information you need to measure and improve customer satisfaction, optimize your service delivery metrics, support budget requests and to clearly articulate IT’s value to your organization. Our services will allow you to optimize your technology budget’s impact and give you the information you need for high-quality planning and vendor management.

At Pam Weil & Assoc. we use an agile, continuous integration project management methodology to provide meaningful bi-weekly deliverables, as well as continuous status monitoring. Our use of the industry standard ITIL/ Dev Ops framework means our service deliverables will dovetail with future development and vendor supported service aspects.

Our clients consist of small businesses, non-profits and schools/universities throughout Michigan.

Anyway, I’ll still be here, but the strength and diversity of skillsets that comes with my partnering with Pam Weil and Associates is quite exciting and I look forward to the amazing projects that we’ll be taking on.

UX design puts users first

UX Design Lansing Michigan

UX design puts users first.

User experience can go two ways.

The first way is the one you design.

With the first way you do research, build personas, do user interviews. You’re constantly testing, measuring and making adjustments. With this way, you know your users, your audience, your customers, etc… With this way, they use the design, and they appreciate the work you’re doing for them. They might even be extremely satisfied with your site, app or product and return time and again, with enthusiasm, because they know you care and are trying to make the most of their time.

User experience can go another way.

The second way is the one that has no design.

People need to use your site, app or product, but you do no research and give no consideration to the user; there are no personas, or user interviews. You don’t know your users, you underestimate them and you don’t value their time. You know that they can get the tasks done, because they’ve found workarounds, and for those that can’t, we chalk it up to “user error” and write it off.

Nobody wants to do it the second way, but sadly, this is still how many Lansing and Michigan organizations operate.

User experience has evolved and matured.

Because UX design puts users first, a time is coming when these kinds of organizations will be discarded. They will be moved to the margins, and eventually replaced entirely, by others that are more enthusiastic, more energetic and more service-oriented, in fact it’s already happening.

Which way do you want to take?

If you’re looking for the best way forward to put your users first and to integrate UX design into your organization, please contact me today. You can use the web form below or just give me a call: 517.230.6422 – I look forward to talking with you.

How much does a website cost?

Website Cost Web Design Lansing Michigan Matt Borghi

How much does a website cost?

As a web designer working in Lansing for 20 years, I’ve been asked this question thousands of times. I’ve answered this question thousands of times. The answer isn’t usually very satisfying. It’s kind of like walking up to a comedian and saying: ‘Make me laugh.’ It doesn’t really work like that.

Asking how much a website costs is tricky. Literally, there are thousands of options: Are you looking for a brochure-style website, an eCommerce website, a portfolio website, a web application? (See my post on website types) These options alone, depending on their scope, range from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars.

That’s why when I get the question: How much does a website cost?

I immediately begin asking my own questions:

  • Why do you you need a website?
  • What do you want to do with a website?
  • Do you have experience running a website?
  • Do you have content for a website?
  • Can you provide content for a website?

Generally, I don’t need much to get started. Usually, a high level vision or some sketches on a napkin will work. However, I always try to ask as many questions as possible to give my clients a sense of what’s involved.

Additionally, for many, web design is a creative, artistic endeavor meaning that the top priority is that it look good. “Good”, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As a website designer, my goal is to bring together form and function. I want to create something that looks great and works great.

I had planned on doing a post on this, but then I found this excellent article by Mark Brinker: How Much Does It Cost To Build A Website For A Small Business? In this article, Mark Brinker, hits all the points that I’ve wanted to, so I’m going to hit the big ones here. Additionally, Mark does some nice comparisons between a hire a professional and doing it yourself.

Size and Complexity

It all boils down to how much work is involved.

Specifically, the 2 factors determining how much work is involved are the size and complexity of your site.

The two most important aspects to website cost are size and complexity. A good web designer, is going to get into this at the beginning. With a good understanding of size and complexity, you’ll have a strong foundation to work from to determine cost.

Website Design vs. Website Development

These terms are often used synonymously, but they’re two very different things. Website design is like working with an architect to create the blueprint for your house. Website development is like working with a contractor to actually build your house. The 2020 pricing estimates listed above are for website design *as well as* website development (i.e. the complete, all inclusive cost).

Website design and web development are different. These two disciplines often work together, but they require different skills, different tools and, arguably, a different sides of the brain. There is the rare creature that can do both well, but generally speaking, that’s not the case. Great designers are usually not great developers and vice versa.

The Shortcut To Building A Great Website

Hire someone.

Creating a modern, professional website that generates leads and sales for your business is way more difficult and time-consuming than most people realize.

As Mark points out, building a website is more difficult and time-consuming than most people realize. For this reason, when I have a plumbing problem, I call a plumber. When I need electrical work, I call an electrician. In both instances, they can save you time, money and hassle because they’re experienced professionals who want to get the job done cleanly and quickly. Professional web design is no different.

If you’re thinking about creating a website and want to know how much a website costs, let me help you out. I work, individually, with all my clients, to figure out their needs, their goals and how to make it fit their budget. I’d love to learn more about your website needs and I’m happy to go over the cost with you, in person — Get in touch today.

UX Design for Customer Loyalty

UX Design Lansing Matt Borghi

UX design in Lansing is in a similar place.

Actually, wait, hold on…. let me step back. You may recall from a previous post, that a successful Lansing design entrepreneur once told me that Lansing is about 5-10 years behind national trends.

UX design in Lansing is no different. UX design, or user experience design, isn’t particularly new, but it’s something that’s gotten buzzword status over the last few years, so design, and design-adjacent business, folks throw the term around a lot. That’s really too bad, because the UX design process is super useful; it focuses on user needs. And what’s the downside to focusing on the needs of the user?

The Interaction Design Foundation (who are experts on such things) defines UX design thusly:

User experience (UX) design is the process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function

Additionally, this diagram that shows the iterative process of UX design is pretty good, too:

UX Design Process Matt Borghi

Working in UX design in Lansing, I talk a lot about user-centered design: Focusing on the user’s needs.

As a steward, for my clients, I have to pass that same understanding down to them.

Basically, it boils down to this: Take care of the customer and they’ll take care of you.

Do you really need an app?

I’ve been doing website design in Lansing for a long time. I’ve seen many trends come and go. Specifically, I remember spring 2007, when the iPhone was about to come out and I saw a bunch of people standing in line outside of a Sprint store across from the Lansing Mall. I won’t lie, this seemed a little crazy to me. I had already been through many Apple hype cycles and this seemed to be just another marketing scheme from the mind of Steve Jobs. It was, kind of, but also:

The iPhone changed everything

There’s no questioning this fact.

However, initially, folks didn’t know what to do with this technology.

Right around the same time a series of Apple ads began running with the tagline ‘there’s an app for that...’

See one of the original ads here:

Lansing’s 5-10 years behind

As with so many things, Apple was ahead of the curve and as one of Lansing premier design entrepreneurs once told me, ‘Lansing’s about 5-10 years behind the national trend.’ So, for website design, and it’s outgrowth, mobile design, that put Lansing like 10-15 years behind where Apple was.

‘Bummer…’ I remember thinking. But then, as now, he wasn’t wrong and Lansing website design and mobile development has been trying to catch up ever since.

See, nobody told Lansing that they were 5-10 years behind the national trends, so when people saw ads for apps, they wanted one. Those of us who were doing website design in Lansing at that time saw many apps come and go. That first wave, the Version 1.0 app period, as I sometimes call it, generated a lot of money, a lot of hype and a lot of really useless apps. Version 1.0 of anything often suffers from this type of thing.

‘There’s an app for that’ became the new: ‘If you build it, they will come

As a proud skeptic, I steered many of my clients away from the money pit that was mobile app development at that time. Within a couple years, m-dot and then mobile responsive websites were able to do much of the work that apps had promised without the development cost. Also, there was no need to submit apps to a Google/Apple approval process and no need to maintain two different, independent codebases.

However, being skeptical wasn’t the big reason I steered a lot of folks away from apps. The real reasoning was that I knew their users would never use them, because through statistics and user research I could see that their users often didn’t have a user-base that possessed the technology to use a mobile app.

If, as your service provider, I know that something won’t get used because I have the data insight to prove it, I would be an unethical crook to take your money to create it. I want long-lasting relationships with my clients. I’m not looking for a quick pay-out and to move on to the next town. This is old fashioned, probably, but it’s very, very important to me. I want my website design clients in Lansing to be satisfied and well-informed.

And that gets us to the point of this article: Mobile development and design is expensive. Sometimes the expense is worth it, sometimes it’s not, but you won’t know until you do your user research. If your user research shows that there’s a hunger for an app, now you know, build on. If your user research says that they want a website for use over a slow rural DSL, build that. Either way – Start with user research.

What do you know about your users? Do you want to know more about your users. Please get in touch here. I’m fortunate to be one of a few website designers in Lansing who’s also experienced in leading and designing user research. Let me put my experience to work for you.

Great Web Design = Great User Experience

I love doing web design in Lansing.  Many folks think of it as a creative act. On some level, that’s true. However, web design is all about meeting user needs. Non-profit associations have members, small businesses have customers and web designers have users; these are the groups that we aim to please with our work. Pleasing them comes in many forms: Great service, reliability, affordability, ease of use. It’s the last one that I want to talk about.

For years, ease of use, or what we know as ‘user friendly’ was hard to nail down. You knew it if you saw it, but you might not be able to explain it. Human-centered design, or user-centered design, as it’s sometimes known, gave us a guidebook to making websites that were easy to use. These days folks call this user experience design. Some use the terms web design, user experience design and UI (user interface) design interchangeably. Words matter, but what’s important is that we’re thinking about the user’s needs when doing web design.

For me, when I’m doing web design, I’m always thinking about the user and the user’s experience with the website I’m designing. Are they going to be seeing the website at their desk or on their mobile phone, are they older or younger? Users vary, as they do in most locations, but you can always count on a mix of ages, demographics, mobile and desktop users. My experience doing web design in Lansing has shown me that I have to aim for the middle: How can I create a great web design and user experience for all types of users?

This is where I practice user-centered design.

Here’s a diagram of how it works: 

Is your Lansing web design firm focusing on user-centered design? Are your members, customers and users their focus when they’re doing web design for you? If not or you’re not sure, get in touch today. Your users are our #1 priority.

Web Design in Lansing

Greater Lansing Web and UX Design

Matt Borghi Media and Design is a full service digital agency doing web design in Lansing.

My work focuses on web design, UX design and search engine optimization (SEO). However, I also offer a variety of other digital and electronic communications services.

I’ve been doing web design in Lansing for over 20 years. I take a user-centered approach to all of my design work and that has allowed me to help many small businesses and non-profits realize the potential of their websites and their online presence. But what good is a great website if nobody can find it? By applying SEO-Search Engine Optimization best practices, I can help my clients improve their search engine rankings and their online visibility.

I’ve worked my entire career in Michigan’s capital city of Lansing. Because of this I’ve gotten to know the people, local vendors, what works, what doesn’t and how to keep things simple and moving forward.

Keeping a website current, fresh and relevant is my specialty. I have all kinds of tips and tricks for making a great website.

Over the years, I’ve worked on and created many kinds of websites, including:

  • Small Business Websites
  • Non-Profit Websites
  • eCommerce Websites
  • Social Media Websites
  • Event and Event Registration Websites
  • Wedding Websites
  • Memorial Websites
  • Family Reunion Websites

If you’re looking for an honest and reliable web design partner to get your project off the ground, look no further. I love working on new websites, breathing new life into old ones and generally talking to folks about their web needs. Please contact me today about your web design needs.

Besides doing web design in Lansing, I’m very active as a greater Lansing musician and composer. My music has been featured on Music from the Hearts of Space, Echoes with John Diliberto, NPR, PRX, BBC and the CBC and Matt can be found regularly performing around town.

The 5 Most Popular Website Design Types

Website design types vary, but in my 20 years of doing web design, I’ve worked on all of them. Blogs, eCommerce sites, event websites, online magazines, business websites, nonprofit websites, web forums, portfolio websites. You name it and I’ve probably worked on a few.

Because many of my clients are new to website design, I wanted to create a list of popular website designs. I don’t consider this an exhaustive list. However, 90% of my work falls into one of these categories.

Brochure Website

The brochure-style website is the most popular style of website that I’ve worked on; think of this type of website as an online brochure or virtual business card. It’s usually short and to the point. This type of site is under ten pages and usually focuses on a product or service. Typically, you can make contact via the website, learn about hours and locations. I include restaurants, auto repair shops and other ‘mainstreet’ businesses in this category. I also call this style of website design  “brochureware”.

Informational (Small Business and Non-profit) Website 

The informational website design is for small businesses and non-profits. While this website design is similar to the  brochure style it contains more information. This website could include information around bylaws, financials, organizational mission, vision, locations and ways to connect with officers and staff. This website design is kind of like a grown-up brochure website; more responsibilities and user needs to serve.

eCommerce Website

The eCommerce website can be standalone like Amazon or eBay or it can be integrated into larger informational website. For instance, a small business website for a restaurant might also have eCommerce functionality to purchase gift cards. A non-profit website might sell things related to their mission, such as a construction safety organization that also sells discounted safety equipment to its members. The eCommerce website style varies, but it’s always transactional with the buying or selling of goods and services as its core call-to-action.

Event and Event Registration Website

At the intersection of the eCommerce and informational website is the event and event registration website. I think of the event website design as one that showcases events and provides a way to register online. Event websites can be standalone such as for music festivals or religious gatherings. I’ve also integrated event websites into eCommerce and informational websites. For example, a small business could sell trainings, where a user could register to attend.  A non-profit might hold retreats or seminars where a user can register and buy tickets online.

Blog/Online Magazine/Content Website

The blog, online magazine or content website(i.e. Vice, YouTube or Pinterest) is designed for users to engage and interact with content. Content takes many forms: Watching funny cat videos, looking at retro interior design photos, reading about putting Ikea furniture together or just the daily news. These are the oldest kinds of websites: People going online expressing their views, perspectives and life experiences and sharing them with others. These types of sites have been around for a long time, but they haven’t changed. ‘Content is King’ and  creating fresh content is central to getting website visits and good search rankings.

That’s it, in a nutshell.

When I work on a website design, the goal is always the same: Help the user complete a task quickly. In order to help the user, you have to understand the user and which kinds of website designs work best.

Getting it Right – Navigating Web Design Ambiguity

 

Jonathan Walter has written a great article, Navigating Ambiguity, at UX Matters. It’s part of a series of columns that focuses on enterprise UX, or as he puts it ‘designing experiences for people at work’ – That’s what drew me in, initially because there’s much written about new development and design from a UX perspective, but enterprise work is often the overlooked and neglected ‘other’ that’s not considered very glamorous and doesn’t get the attention it deserves where UX is concerned.

As I began reading the article, thought, I realized that he was a kindred spirit of sorts, because I use the phrases: “Navigating ambiguity” or in jest, “parsing the nebula” just about every day when solving problems with digital experience and software functionality development, roadmapping, etc. We, individually, and as a team, have to understand what we’re trying to do before we can map it, plan it, work on it, but particularly, deliver it. Jonathan provides some great insights on that.

Get comfortable with not knowing everything

Jonathan writes:

“Even in situations in which you feel alone in your lack of knowledge, you must become comfortable with saying, “I don’t know.” In his Forbes article, “The Power of Saying ‘I Don’t Know’,” Gaurav Gupta states: “We are conditioned to having and providing quick, confident answers as a sign of competence and leadership. We behave as though any gaps in knowledge should be hidden at all cost. But is this desire to have an answer—and have it quickly—actually helping you? How often do we trade factual accuracy and thoughtfulness for immediacy? Why do people find it so hard to say, ‘I don’t know’?”

Ask (the right) questions

I would say, just ask question, as you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s a journey of a thousand miles, start with one step. Additionally, Jonathan adds:

“…ask the following W questions to reduce ambiguity and approach a problem from a higher-level perspective:
  • What problems does this product or capability solve?
  • Who will use it?
  • Why will they use it?
  • When or in which context will they use it?
“…Once you understand this high-level information, you can ask progressively more specific questions.”

Provide a vision

This has been hugely important for me. I never had any idea how often I’d have to repeat, dramatize, articulate and visually represent my vision for product or experience. Jonathan puts a finer point on this that I really appreciate:

“…your vision—even if it is overly aspirational or flawed—provides a North Star that product-team members can keep in sight as they develop a product. It can also serve as a useful artifact for identifying which features are in scope for early releases and which you should defer to later releases. “Just take care to avoid leading stakeholders to believe that the vision is final.”

I’ve only scratched the surface on Jonathan’s great article, but I highly recommend you give it a read; if you’re interested in UX and process, you won’t be disappointed and the information is as practical and steeped in experience as it is easy to understand and put into practice. Again, you can find that article here.