How did Simpatico start?

If you go far back enough, I suppose you could say Simpatico started in the mid 90’s when I (Tamara, Simpatico owner and resident elder millennial) started building websites. But the more conventional answer is that Simpatico was born when I was bit by the entrepreneur bug and left my amazing full time gig leading a UX team at Google. Since 2014, Simpatico has grown from a one-woman shop to a team of 10 incredible, full-time employees: a blend of designers, developers, and one superb project manager. My goal was to create a “Seal Team Six” caliber, intellectually curious design and development team. We’re so humbled and fortunate to work with the amazing clients that we do.

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What is your design process?

It varies from engagement to engagement, but most projects follow a similar trajectory. For website engagements, that trajectory is:

  • Discovery
  • UX
  • Visual Design
  • Development

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How are you different? What sets you apart from the competition?

  • Some agencies are too big. Some are too small. Simpatico is just right.
    Working with a talented freelancer often offers good return on investment… until, for whatever reason, that freelancer is unavailable. A boutique shop like Simpatico offers the nimble qualities of working with freelancers, but without the risk of your talent (and deliverables) going MIA. Our “dinner table sized” team allows us to take large projects without the bloat. It ensures adequate team and resource coverage, and enables optimal attention for our clients—but it also means the team who produced the work on our portfolio is the same team working on your brand.
  • We maintain close, friendly relationships with our small roster of clients.
    Our project manager runs a tight ship in terms of project deadlines and ensuring our clients have a direct line for questions, training, and ongoing project status updates. However, all team members participate in Basecamp discussions and meetings, resulting in open, collaborative, friendly back-and-forth relationships with our clients.
  • Our design leads are formally trained, and we have the multidisciplinary skills to create what you need.
    Bruce and Angela both completed their undergraduate design degrees at the School of Visual Arts, and Tamara has a Master’s in interactive technology from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. We believe there is no substitute for proper foundations and formal design training.
  • We have the multidisciplinary skills to create what you need.
    Our past work includes (but is not limited to) traditional print collateral (business cards, letterhead); custom designed whitepapers; social media graphics; targeted ad campaigns (copywriting & creative); trade show collateral (signage, animated video reels, leave behinds); product UX/UI design; custom designed and SEO-friendly landing pages; Nasdaq Tower animations; and more.
  • We are a true dev shop (not a design shop that outsources the build).
    Head of Development Amber Weinberg has been building custom WordPress sites for 15+ years—and has a degree in design. Our team of five developers works together day in, day out, constantly defining our best practices and evolving our starter WordPress theme.
  • We’re 100% woman-owned.
    There was a stat floating around awhile back that .1% of creative agencies are founded by women. I don’t know if that’s exactly true, but it’s not many, and we are proud to be one of the few.

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Who will I be working with?

There’s no mystery about who you’ll be working with if you work with Studio Simpatico. Unlike other agencies that often lure you in with the “A” team’s portfolio and then give you the “C” team, every project in our studio is led by Tamara, Bruce, and Amber. WYSIWYG.

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What services do you offer?

We are a small studio whose specialties include:

Our bread and butter is the “soup to nuts,” end-to-end process of building highly flexible (thanks to our modular design approach), easy to manage WordPress sites for our clients. As part of this process, we handle everything, including UX research, technical SEO, content migration, WordPress training, and more.

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How do you communicate with your clients?

We primarily use Basecamp and email for keeping track of project timelines, deliverables, and client feedback. You can read more about how we facilitate this process in this blog post by our product manager Mingwei, “How We Use Basecamp to Manage Projects.”

For larger engagements or for ongoing retainer clients, we’re happy to create a cross-workspace Slack channel during the duration of the engagement.

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Are you available for in-person meetings?

We’re a fully remote studio now, but the answer is yes (depending of course on COVID positivity rates and general safety). Tamara and Bruce (Simpatico’s Owner and Head of Design) are both based in the New York City metro area, and would be happy to meet in person as it makes sense.

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How much do your services cost? Do you work hourly or on a project basis?

We offer retainer agreements for ongoing/maintenance work, and flat fee estimates (based on an hourly rate) for new projects. Our minimum project budget for new clients is $30k, and the websites we build usually run in the $50-60k range.

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Do you offer UX design and research services? How do you structure these engagements?

We do, but only for full, end-to-end projects with a clear scope of work and timeframes. We do not provide ongoing UX design support. If you are looking for a UX consultant (e.g. to conduct a research study to answer specific questions or work with your product team to wireframe a specific user experience), the studio is available for UX consulting projects (research and design).

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Do you design logos? PowerPoints? Business cards?

We do design logos, but only as part of larger branding and visual identity engagements (learn more). Similarly, we’re happy to design collateral, but only if Simpatico designed the original brand/visual identity.

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How do you build your sites using WordPress? Do you use a theme like Divi or Elementor?

We do not; we only build custom WordPress themes. If you’re aren’t sure what that means and/or don’t know which solution is right for you, check out our article weighing the pros/cons of each approach. On the backend, we use Advanced Custom Fields Pro.

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I have designs for a website, and am looking for a firm to turn those designs into a fully functioning site. Do you offer this service?

If you’re looking for development work only, we only provide pricing estimates if fully completed designs are provided to us (noting we only accept XD, Figma, or Sketch files — no Photoshop or Illustrator files). Our minimum project budget for this type of engagement is $15,000.

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Do you handle maintenance?

For sites we build, absolutely! We offer flexible retainers for clients who wish us to provide ongoing support. Unfortunately, if a client chooses not to purchase a retainer, we cannot guarantee availability for fixes.

For sites that we didn’t build … it depends. We only work with custom WordPress themes (though we wholeheartedly believe that some sites’ business objectives are best fulfilled using a premade theme — check out this post if you’re not sure about the difference). If you’re looking for help with an existing site built with an existing theme, we can perform a quick code review to determine whether we’d be the right partner.

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Do you provide SEO services?

Though we are not an SEO shop, I typically describe us as “SEO aware,” since we do build SEO strategy and tactics into much of our process. In this article, Does Simpatico Offer SEO Services? I break down the high level techniques typically used to optimize a website for search, and outline which are provided (and not provided) by Studio Simpatico as part of a typical website design and development engagement (including installing and helping you understand how to use the Yoast plugin).

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Do you offer hosting?

No. For WordPress sites, we recommend our friends at WP Engine. Here’s why.

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Will you help configure my GA installation?

We’re happy to place the tags and implement specific instructions around what needs to be tracked. For more strategic thinking (a la marketing or click funnels), we recommend hiring a marketing consultant.
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Will you make sure redirects are taken care of?

Yes. We capture all of the existing URLs in our upfront audit, and redirect all of them prior to launch.

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I’m interested in Simpatico, but see you only work with WordPress. How can I determine whether WordPress is the right solution for my product or site?

I recently listened to Matt Mullenweg (creator of WordPress) give, in my opinion, the perfect, simplified, succinct answer to this question in a podcast interview last year:

“You joked about putting things in a database and taking them out. If if that ratio is one to one … like, maybe like a video game or a chat service … the data architecture and structure of WordPress is not well suited, so you probably want something else. But if it’s something that’s ‘write a lot, read a lot’ — more access pattern — WordPress is fantastic for that. It can support literally millions of authors publishing things millions of times a day that get read billions of times per day. That sort of model is really good for it.”

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Do you use Gutenberg?

When it makes sense, yes. If we do, we use ACF with Gutenberg.

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Can you walk me through one of your WordPress backends? Are your CMS environments easy to navigate?

Yes! We like to say we leverage our UX superpowers not just for the user-facing website front-end, but also to ensure that our clients’ experience using the CMS is as intuitive and pain-free as possible. If you’re interested in a tour of one of our WordPress back-ends, get in touch for a demo.

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