Local Political Candidates Need a Website

Political Campaigns Need a Website

Political candidates need a website.

Local political candidates need a website. Whether you’re running for City Council in East Lansing, Judge in Ingham County or any other elected office, you need a website! It’s hard for me to imagine a company, organization or political candidate that doesn’t have a website, but many try to do it to the detriment of their campaign.

In fact, a political candidate these days, has a wide digital landscape they need to cover including:

  • A great website
  • An easy-to-find web address: www.YourName.com
  • A strong search presence with Google
  • A strong web and digital presence across places like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Sure, you can post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. in fact, I recommend that you do.

But can people on those platforms:

  • Quickly find your campaign page among all the others
  • Contact you securely and reliably
  • Make donations, request signs or volunteer to help your campaign
  • Allow you to create a one-on-one relationship with potential voters and donors

Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is ‘no’ because Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter aren’t concerned about your campaign; they’re only concerned with keeping people interested in you on their platforms, which is why you need your own website.

Local political candidates need a web site, but they also need a digital presence.

A website used to be optional, in 1998, but many kept thinking right on through to the present day, that they were optional.

A website is optional if getting votes or donations is optional. For my clients, getting votes and donations isn’t optional, it’s critical. The key to a successful election campaign is a steady stream of donations and volunteers; a website makes that happen.

Building a website, for many folks running for an elected office, seems like an unnecessary hassle and a waste of money, after all you’re already running things on a shoestring budget. However, I can make it easy, pain free and inexpensive for your campaign to have a great website and a strong digital presence.

Let me help your campaign: Call me at: 517.230.6422 or contact me through the form below:

Are You Ready, Lansing?

Are you ready, Lansing

The world is opening again, are you ready, Lansing? Is your small business or non-profit ready? Sadly, many small businesses and non-profits that weren’t ready for a global pandemic and the lockdown that followed aren’t with us any longer (I wrote about my concerns around that here); You can see the empty storefronts all over Lansing and mid-Michigan. Some of my favorite Lansing businesses have gone under, which makes me sad, but what is worse: It could have been prevented.

Being ready means your business or organization has:

  • A great website
  • An easy-to-find web address: www.yoursite.com
  • A strong search presence with Google
  • A strong web and digital presence across places like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Sure, you can post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. in fact, I recommend that you do.

But can people on those platforms:

  • Quickly find your business or organization among all the others
  • Contact you securely and reliably
  • Order products or services directly from you
  • Allow you to create a one-on-one relationship with potential customers or members

Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is ‘no’ because Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter aren’t concerned about your business or your mission; they’re only concerned with keeping people interested in you on their platforms, which is why you need your own website.

With your own website, your users can:

  • Quickly find your business or organization among all the others
  • Contact you securely and reliably
  • Order products or services directly from you
  • Allow you to create a one-on-one relationship with potential customers or members
  • Allow you to build your contacts database for repeat business or fundraising

Being ready for whatever comes means your business or organization has:

  • A great website
  • An easy-to-find web address: www.yoursite.com
  • A strong search presence with Google
  • A strong web and digital presence across places like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Creating a successful small business or non-profit requires hard work, flexibility, independence, and freedom. No matter what happens you need the ability to run your business or organization from wherever you are, no matter what the circumstances.

Are you ready, Lansing? Let me help you with a free consult. I’ve helped hundreds of small businesses and non-profits get ready and prepared for whatever happens next! Call me: 517.230.6422 or contact me through the form below:

I love email marketing, I’ll tell you why!

Lansing Email Marketing Matt Borghi

I love email marketing and here’s why I think you should, too!

For Lansing small businesses, organizations and political candidates email marketing needs to be a part of any digital marketing effort. Here are a several reasons why: 

Cost – Email marketing can be done free with a free Mailchimp account (up to a certain threshold: 2,000 contacts/12,000 emails per month) for a fraction of the cost of postage, which you never know if somebody reads or whether it goes straight to the trash. An email marketing campaign can give stats on whether an email was opened, did a recipient click a link, make a donation or engage with the content of your email in some meaningful way or not. You can see what you’re getting for your spend immediately.

Ease of Use – With tools like Mailchimp or ConstantContact you can easily create and manage email lists and send emails from these tools to your audience/list. Many of these tools come with pre-made forms that you can use on your own website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other places to capture email addresses. Additionally, you’re capturing emails every time somebody contacts you via your website or by other means, why not capture their email address and communicate with them directly? 

Reach – Email marketing gives you a direct one-to-one connection to your audience. Whereas with Facebook, you have to boost posts ($) or hope a “Friend” or somebody who “Likes” your page sees it when Facebook’s algorithm happens to show it; not so with email marketing – You’re contacting them directly. Also, everybody has an email address, some folks may check them more than others, but that direct connection is still there. Also, while folks can “share” on Facebook, a shared email from a friend or colleague is a much more trusted and relevant exchange. 

Ownership – With a well-executed email marketing plan, you own your list; it’s proprietary. You’re not renting placement in Facebook, a local publication or a highway billboard, nor are you renting a direct mail list of questionable efficacy from a list broker for a single election cycle. Your list is your own. 

Email marketing doesn’t get a lot of hype because there’s no quick shortcut to building a good list, it takes diligence and time. You can’t buy an email list of any value, because emails are personal, more personal than our postal addresses, more personal than “Friends” you don’t know, whose requests you accepted on Facebook. In many ways, they’re as intimate as your mobile phone number. You don’t just give it out to anybody. 

And that last bit is what really makes email marketing important: When somebody has given you their email address, a social contract has been entered into. You agree to not abuse the privilege and send them relevant information and they agree to let you; when marketing and trying spread the word, that entry point of willingness is the most we can ask for. There’s no hucksterism or one-time sale, there’s just earnest relationship building, digitally or otherwise.

For me, the real strength of email marketing is when you send an email, even if it’s only to a couple dozen people that asks one thing, what’s known as a CTA or Call to Action. Let’s say you have a few lines of text, maybe a picture and a big button that says: DONATE – That email was literally zero cost to send, it took an hour or less to set up to send to email addresses you already had, folks who granted you permission to contact them and the recipient is guaranteed to receive it, maybe not open it, but they will get it. If you get a single $50-100 donation, let alone numerous micro-donations at $5-10, you’ve received many times the return on your investment. And this scales, the more emails, the more donations. We saw how this could work with Howard Dean’s campaign and then Barack Obama’s campaigns, but I was using email with music and the arts years before that.

Email marketing is powerful. I believe in it deeply. I’m an evangelist for it, but it’s like a bountiful garden, it takes time and attention to cultivate.

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.

Lansing Small Businesses Need a Website

Lansing Small Businesses Need a Website

Lansing small businesses need a website; it’s that simple, but let me explain further…

It’s hard for me imagine a company or organization that doesn’t have a website.

I also never imagined that I would be obeying a stay-at-home order, unable to leave my house during a global pandemic. But that’s exactly what I’m doing.

There’s no question that, at the very least, we’re headed for some rough economic times. As of this writing, March 27, 2020, things are looking kind of grim, but our species is clever and resilient — We’ll get through this.

It is troubling to think about the small businesses in Lansing that don’t have websites, and having been shuddered, have no income coming in. One study found that 40% of small business don’t have websites, and 28% have no plans to create one. I’ll take it a step further and say that probably 65-70% of the small businesses in Lansing don’t have a website. That’s inconceivable to me, but I understand it.

When you’re a small business doing well with great walk-up business, who needs to bother with a website. Perfectly reasonable question; that is, until you get stuck with a stay-at-home order, your business is required to close, through no fault of your own and your walk-up business isn’t even able to leave the house.

Lansing small businesses need a website

Building a website, to most small business owners, seems like an unnecessary hassle. I’ve walked many small business owners through this process. I can make it easy, pain free and inexpensive. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to have a great website.

Lansing small businesses need a website because it can create an extra revenue stream.

A website used to be optional, in 1998, but many kept thinking right on through until the present day, that they were optional. A website is optional if income is optional. For my clients, income isn’t optional; a steady stream of income is critical, the most important thing after great service. Great service and income are hand-in-glove. An upset and financially strapped business owner isn’t going to have great service at the front of their mind.

A small business owner could have made a compelling case for not needing a website, until the stay-at-home order of March 24, 2020. Now, though, everything has changed. Websites, electronic services and email marketing are the basics for doing business in the isolation economy. You’ll note that I didn’t mention social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Why? Because I’m getting increasing feedback that folk are terrified of what they’re reading on these social channels and don’t believe much of it anyway, so they’re staying away for their mental health. This creates an unprecedented opportunity for small businesses to connect one-on-one with their customers through their websites.

I would love to help you get your website and your electronic communications up and running. Please give me a call, 517.230.6422 or contact me through the form below:

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.