Michael LaVista is founder of Caxy, a web consulting and development company in Chicago. A master in custom web solutions, Michael uses his knowledge and experience to help drive the company forward. From web analytics to database design to web management, Caxy works closely with clients to implement strategic solutions and deliver expert results.
I interviewed Michael as part of our 6 Questions feature: a series of one-on-one interviews with people we work with who’ve made us proud. We get very close to our partners and their brands and when we see them doing great work and achieving great things, it’s very personal to us. They’re rocking their brands in exciting and innovative ways—and we love hearing and talking about it. We find how a brand works out in the “real world” fascinating and hope you will, too.
Read on to discover the true roots of Caxy, how the web development process works and the best way to ensure success on your new website.
1. You founded Caxy back in 2000. How did you get into web consulting and development?
In a past life, I was a touring musician, working night after night. Having gone to school for engineering, my band said we needed a website. So, I built us a website and really enjoyed it. After that, I got together with a couple of friends and we started a business. (One of the guys did door-to-door website sales, that’s how long ago it was.)
2. Nowadays, it seems that everyone is in the “web development” business. How do you set yourself apart from a plethora of online imitators and competitors? What are you most excited about right now?
We think the magic is in the process. We are different because we get great results in an industry that is unpredictable and has a lot of potential for “black magic.” Right now, I am most excited about the growth we are experiencing in our mobile app department and responsive design.
3. We do a lot of web design here at BatesMeron, whereas you focus on development. Can you explain the benefit you find working with BatesMeron?
BatesMeron is really great at energizing the brand of a company, and with websites you only have one or two pages to do that. It’s important for a web agency to understand what makes a company heroic and different and then communicate it. This can be accomplished through the website’s look, feel and function—which is what BatesMeron does so well.
4. What’s your process for identifying a client’s needs? How do you know whether they need a slingshot or a catapult?
I like to talk to people about what drives them crazy in their business. This is a great way to start a funny and candid conversation and it gives them an opportunity to talk about the most frustrating part of their business. Oftentimes, this points us in the right direction and allows us to offer a technology solution. If they need a slingshot, we will build them a slingshot. If they need a catapult, we can build that too.
5. With 10+ years of experience in website development, consulting and management, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned working with your team and clients?
Communication is the name of the game. The longer you go between communications, the further apart the impression of the last conversation becomes. Therefore, it’s very important for us to have regular communication both internally and externally about what we need to do and goals we’ve made—keeping everyone on track and allowing us to bypass major problems.
6. Over the years you’ve worked with companies big and small to develop hundreds of customized and beautiful sites. What advice would you give to clients looking to create and develop a new website?
Make sure you know why your customers need you to build the site. Many times, people build sites by holding a mirror up to their own faces rather than building the website their customers actually wanted. Having a clear idea of what your customers want, need and expect when it comes to functionality and design will help give you an idea of what type of site you should have.
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