website design

The Process Web Design

5 Things to Consider Before Issuing a Website Design RFP

Finding a creative agency that fits perfectly with the needs of a client is one of the greatest challenges in the marketing process. Every agency has its specialties or industries it often works with, along with its unique qualifications and characteristics.

For many organizations, an RFP represents the best way to choose from among multiple vendors for a final interview and decision.

Having received and replied to a lot of RFPs over the years at Hub & Spoke, we thought we’d share a few tips on how to make it a smooth process.

1. Share Your Budget

It is a common notion that withholding your budget information increases competition among agencies and thus assuring you of better value. However, agencies have to consider the scale when looking to take on a project.

Withholding your budget information can lead to wasted time for both you and the agency in figuring out whether the relationship fits. Disclosing the budget information helps narrow down the field and ensures the right people respond.

2. Make your goals clear

When issuing an RFP for a St. Louis website design, you should consider clarifying the challenges you are likely to face and goals you have for the project.

Clearly outline the changes to the website and how you expect it to be organized. While you’re not expected to have a final plan of action, it’s still a good idea to establish a scope of work that the agency can use as a foundation for their estimate and their expected scope of work.

However, don’t be too rigid in your expectations. It’s okay to provide room for new ideas; that’s likely why you’re looking for help with your website design in the first place.

3. Set a realistic timeline

Website redesigns have been a painful process for non-profit organizations for a long time.

Given the importance of branding and website design to an organization, the last thing you would want to do is rush through the design, the strategy, and the implementation. Since it is an investment in time and money, it is important to get it right, without taking any shortcuts.

Setting realistic timelines will help you avoid any future regrets and ensure a well thought-out discovery phase and design period.

4. Narrow the field

Not every web designer will be a good fit for your project, so narrow down the field before issuing your RFP, instead of posting it for all comers.

Spend some time looking at other agencies’ works to see if they resonate with you and select a handful to compete for your project. Try reaching out and discussing with them to determine whether you can work perfectly together, as they’ll always be happy to talk about how they can help.

Also, by narrowing down the list before sending, you’ll avoid a lot of junk responses that are boilerplate and simplistic, which don’t address the actual problems and scope presented by you in the RFP.

5. Decide whether you really need an RFP

Before issuing an RFP, ask yourself whether it is really necessary or not.

Many organizations have moved away from the RFP process because they recognize that it may not be the most effective way to identify the perfect partner.

You might invest your time in developing the needs and requirements only to be put aside. Therefore, be thoroughly sure that you need an RFP before issuing and ensure you can dedicate the proper time to studying each response.

Creating a website design RFP can be a time consuming process with lots of data and information to compile. Have questions? Contact us and we’re happy to give our input, as we’ve read and responded to many of them.

Case Study Web Design

Putting the focus on photography with Inside Columbia Magazine’s redesign

Recently acquired by Zimmer, Inside Columbia Magazine has long been one of Columbia’s go-to media destinations, taking readers inside unique spots for food, drinks and fun.

Last summer, we had the chance to help them rethink their website design, bringing our considerable magazine website design experience to the conversation. We’ve had the opportunity to design many lifestyle and business magazine websites, including websites promoting magazine events and their publishers.  Continue Reading

Best Practices Trends Web Design

Ensuring Your Website Meets ADA Compliance Standards

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was devised to prohibit disability-based discrimination. Although the ADA was enacted before the internet was invented, the Department of Justice has already determined access to websites and other electronic media to be covered by the statute. Legislation on website compliance is currently going through the amendment process and an updated amendment is expected by 2018.

hs_ada-webite_0025 Continue Reading

Best Practices Content Marketing Web Design

Creating Attractive Website Content That Fosters Engagement

It’s common knowledge that the average person’s attention span is increasingly short. We all live busier, faster lives than we used to live. This is especially true here on the internet, where we’re constantly bombarded by content and moving on to the next thing—whatever it is—only takes a click.

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Nonetheless, people are quite willing to stick around if what they’re watching or reading is helpful and engaging, and it provides new insights and robust knowledge. This is where quality content comes in. Continue Reading

Business Content Marketing Email Marketing

How can a small business prepare their marketing for the new year?

As a new year begins, it’s a great time for small businesses to re-evaluate their marketing plan.

2017

What worked in 2016 may not always be the best bet for 2017… and what didn’t work, well, it should be thrown overboard.

Develop a content marketing strategy that prompts action.

Make a plan that will help your content and messaging reach more people, whether that involves social media sharing, outreach to media or traditional advertising.

Consider adding video to the mix, spotlighting your products or services. 64% of visitors were more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it online, while 90% of online users say product videos help in the decision-making process.

Make sure your website is still a good fit.

We all know an outdated website design when we see it. They have cheesy graphics, lots of textures, and they just look dated. In any industry, that’s a huge turnoff. It shows your website is nothing more than an old brochure.

38% of users will stop engaging with a website that is unattractive, while 51% of users have trouble finding the contact information they need. Other times it’s not the design and layout that are the problem; instead, you just have old content that doesn’t reflect your mission, achievements or projects.

No matter what, make sure the website is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate on tablets and phones.

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Update products in your online store.

It’s a new year, so make sure new products stand out, and at the very least, update how current products are presented. Create new product descriptions and add new high-resolution images to put a fresh spin on offerings. Make sure your products keep up with changing trends.

Embrace the ROI of an effective email marketing campaign.

You have an email marketing list, right? If not, you should, as they produce an ROI of $38 for every $1 spent — if used properly. Consider using detailed analytics. Track which messages are opened and by whom. How many people click through to your website, and how many take an action once there? Use this to determine if it’s time to rework the message. Emails cost very little to send, but it’s important to hone the message. Otherwise you’ll end up in the spam box. Also, like websites, make sure your email marketing is designed to work on all devices, as 75% of Google’s 1 billion email users check their mail on a mobile device.

Consider using detailed analytics. Track which messages are opened and by whom. How many people click through to your website, and how many take an action once there? Use this to determine if it’s time to rework the message. Emails cost very little to send, but it’s important to hone the message. Otherwise you’ll end up in the spam box. Also, like websites, make sure your email marketing is designed to work on all devices, as 75% of Google’s 1 billion email users check their mail on a mobile device.

Emails cost very little to send, but it’s important to hone the message. Otherwise you’ll end up in the spam box. Also, like websites, make sure your email marketing is designed to work on all devices, as 75% of Google’s 1 billion email users check their mail on a mobile device.

Build your social media presence.

Social media can be a love-hate relationship, as it doesn’t usually lead to direct sales. Rather, it creates engagement and buzz, along with back of mind awareness.

Content consumption has increased 57% in the past two years on social media. But remember your target demographics, as only 35% of people age 65 utilize it, compared to 90% of millenials.

Make sure your profiles across the platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Angie’s List, etc., are all up to date. On some, like Facebook, you can now add a list of services, and, of course, reviews are always important.

This is the time to explore new ideas, create fresh content and use what you’ve learned from past marketing endeavors to draw in more customers.

Conversion is the name of the game. Let’s talk about how these 5 tips can get your business ready to bring in new customers as the year changes.

This column originally appeared in Inside Columbia’s CEO Magazine.

Search Engine Optimization Web Design

Top 5 Features Google Wants From Your Website

No doubt, you’ve heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) before, and you know that it’s kind of a big deal. It’s basically the process of improving your visibility via unpaid, or “organic,” search engine results to ensure customers can find you.

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The million dollar question is: What can I do to raise my Google ranking?

There are said to be approximately 200 Google ranking factors, and some of them have additional variations. The good news is that if you pay attention to several key features, you will be well on your way to increasing your ranking.

Content

Google prefers long-form content over short, especially in-depth articles. You don’t have to limit this content to the blog section of your website. Your content can be in the form of case studies, white papers, or other informational pieces.

The more often you update your content, the better. Stale, old content will sink your search engine ranking, so it’s important to have a content strategy and regular calendar of updates, when possible.

Links

Inbound links to your website from other domains is a very important factor in raising your search ranking. Although it’s not entirely in your control, this is something that you can monitor.

Leverage your connections. Grow your relationships with bloggers, business partners, and local media to have a link to your site added to their website.

Page Titles

Google uses your titles to decide what your page is all about.

As it shows only between 50-60 characters in a search result title, you probably want to keep your titles within that range, or at least make sure the most important information is within that limit. (Although Google may cut it off in display, it does still count other characters up to 80.)

Titles are also important to help grab searchers attention, so make sure they clearly define the content and help people make a decision quickly.

Mobile Responsiveness

Just as you want your website to be user friendly, so does Google. The number of searches completed on mobile devices continues to grow, and if your site is not mobile- or tablet-responsive, then you may be losing frustrated customers as well as your edge in search rankings.

Responsive, mobile-friendly design has become a must-have feature, and your rankings will reflect where your site stands in regards to this.

SSL and Security

A recent addition to how Google ranks websites, SSL’s (or security certificates) indicate trust and verification. Having an SSL certificate provides multiple benefits, from ensuring secure credit card transaction to sending trust factors to customers.

Though the Google ranking algorithm actually changes 500-600 times per year, these five features have remained near the top of the list, and most likely won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

© 2016 Web Design, Branding & Marketing Insights from Hub & Spoke.