How to Write an RFP for a Website Redesign

So, you need a to find an agency to manage your website redesign, but you don’t know how to weed through the endless array of development firms vying for your marketing dollars. Choosing the right option for your redesign shouldn’t feel like an impossible mission, but many small business owners find it downright overwhelming. Writing an RFP, or request for proposal, will help you narrow down the solutions available to you.

Ready to get started? Use the tips below to write an effective RFP that will save you both time and money.

What Should My RFP Include?

Many entrepreneurs wonder if writing an RFP is even worth the effort when it’s relatively easy to ask for a quote from a web designer. The short answer is a resounding yes! An RFP will ensure you receive the best product at a competitive price.

Your RFP should perform a few different functions. Firstly, it announces your intent to compare a firm’s quote against its competitors. This gives you a headstart on the negotiation process before it even begins. The RFP also outlines the expectations and needs of the project, ensuring no wires are crossed down the road. RFPs detail the scope of a project, explore the limitations of your existing site and include your requirements for the submitted proposal. Finally, an RFP must reference budget information.

Provide the Right Context

Unless you’re a budding web developer in your own right, you’re probably more familiar with your goals than the solutions your website should use. Instead of providing a laundry list of “must have” features, use your RFP to explain what you’re looking for and why. By giving the recipient some flexibility, you may find you receive better suggestions and recommendations.

Keep the Right Perspective

While it may be true that the buying power rests in your hands, don’t offend your developer with a bevy of proposal requirements and a ridiculously low budget. Also, you may be ready to start working on your new project tomorrow, but a busy developer likely has to juggle a full roster of other clients jostling for his attention. Don’t insist on an extremely tight lead time, and don’t act like you know everything. Remember, you’re partnering with an expert for a reason—they know what it takes to get the job done right.

Once you’ve drafted your RFP, take some time to customize it for each web designer you contact. A template RFP may provide a smart starting point, but you don’t want to spam 12 different companies with your request and sit back on your laurels. Instead, aim to initiate a conversation about what you’re looking for, and use your RFP to crystalize your wants and needs. By taking this approach, you’re bound to find a development partner who will work diligently to bring your vision to life.

Web Design 101: Using Color to Boost Conversions

Most small business owners don’t give the color of their website much thought—after all, a design’s visual appeal is most important, right? In fact, your site’s design should extend far beyond appearance, by incorporating colors that can land you more sales. If you’re not already familiar with colors role in design and how it can alter the perceptions of your buyer, learn how you can utilize colors to boost your online conversions.

Why Does Color Matter?

Colors evoke emotions and subconscious responses from consumers. Yellow and orange tones project happiness and optimism, while most buyers see blue as trustworthy and dependable. In addition to these general ideas, different target groups vary in their color preferences. For example, many female buyers don’t like orange and brown, while men don’t like purple. A few simple color changes can make or break a company’s branding and marketing initiatives.

Finding the Best Color for Conversions

A number of detailed case studies have taken a closer look at color on the web, in an effort to pinpoint which colors help buyers land more sales. Some studies have found that using a red button instead of a green button can produce up to 34% more results. Before you fill your site with red buttons, however, it’s important to understand that color is merely a portion of the conversion equation.

See, while color is undeniably important, it’s even more important to understand your audience. Many case studies and A/B tests have revealed results that seem completely contradictory to one another. That doesn’t mean that one color is necessarily better than the other, it simply means the site’s visitors respond better to one option in a particular case. Confused yet?

How to Realistically Choose the Right Color

Is color one of the most important elements of a website’s design? Yes—and yet, even the most talented marketers in the world are split on the best ways to implement color. As Unbounce points out, there is no single button shape, size, or color that will work perfectly in every situation. Instead, try to use colors that stand out and don’t be afraid to experiment to find the right fit.

Choosing the right colors for your website’s design is no easy process, and unfortunately, there are no definitive answers you can apply across the board. Don’t be discouraged, however. Treat your site like an ever-evolving tool to help you better market your business. Experiment wildly and see what you’re able to produce. If you have the resources to do so, consider testing different designs and colors to see what resonates best with consumers. Above all else, know your buyer—with a clearly defined target audience in mind, you’ll be better able to gauge a visitor’s response to your business site.

Why Should My Business Invest in Content Marketing?

Why Should My Business Invest in Content Marketing?

Seemingly every business in the world has been told how important it is to invest in content marketing, with billions of dollars spent on this promotional strategy each year. And yet, 40% of small business owners feel it’s difficult to measure the impact of content marketing. If you’re wondering whether your content marketing dollars would be better spent elsewhere, it’s important to learn why generating content online is essential for your business.

Generating Traffic Online

Most small business owners think of content marketing as a tool for growing social media connections and increasing user engagement, but they fail to see how content contributes to organic traffic patterns. Search engine optimization (SEO) has long been a buzzword for content creators on the web, but the correlation between strong content and organic traffic is simply undeniable. Without great content on your website, your visitor count will fall flat.

Delving into the technical specifics of SEO is a significant undertaking, but understand this: investing in content boosts your site’s value in the eyes of the search engines. This result may not be perceptible to the naked eye, but consistently blogging and generating interesting content has a marked impact on your website’s incoming traffic trends. For a more detailed look at the link between SEO and content marketing, take a look at this comprehensive overview from industry leader Kissmetrics.

Building Brand Awareness

Generating content online to build brand awareness is frankly a no-brainer. Spreading the word about your company can feel incredibly difficult as a small business owner, especially if you’re competing with larger chains that have seemingly unlimited marketing budgets. Content marketing is a cost-effective tool for getting your name out there. Best of all, unlike traditional advertising that only delivers results while your campaign remains active, content lives on indefinitely, bringing you business for years to come.

Establishing Authority

Consumers look to industry experts when it comes to making buying decisions. What wine should I pair with red meat? What’s the perfect local spot for date night with my wife? What shoes should I wear with a little black dress?

Content marketing gives you the opportunity to answer questions your target audience has about the products and services you know best. By addressing points of interest for potential customers, you’re building a reputation within your niche. When it comes time to make a purchase, you’re the company these buyers will turn to for reputable products.

Perhaps the single greatest key for content marketing success is patience. Building a following online and generating sales for your business won’t simply happen overnight. As you generate more and more content, the snowball effect will become apparent. As content drives more consumers to your website, your social media following increases and your industry position soars.

If you continue to show your marketing efforts the attention they deserve, you’ll also see your bottom line grow. Take a deep breath and roll the dice. Content marketing isn’t a quick fix for your sales woes, but it is a viable investment for the future of your business.

5 Keys for Evoking Positive Emotions Through Visual Design

5 Keys for Evoking Positive Emotions Through Visual Design

Generating positive emotions related to your brand is paramount to the success of your business. Not only should your site’s visual design effectively reflect your brand identity, but it should stimulate the right response in your visitor. While there is no scientific formula you can utilize to connect with your users, the following keys offer a simple checklist for ensuring your visual design makes the right impact.

1. Think About Your Color Palette

Researchers have spent years studying how humans respond to color stimuli. You’re likely already familiar with some of these principles. For example, most consumers associate yellow with happiness and optimism, while green evokes thoughts of health and peace. As you focus on branding, spend some time getting familiar with how users perceive various colors to ensure your branding is on point.

2. Pay Close Attention to Page Layout

Web design has long been focused on utility, but user experience extends far beyond simply functionality. If you can merge personality and emotion with a usable site, you’ll harness the true power of the web to boost your bottom line. Focus on building pages that are easy to navigate, with large buttons and headlines, all without neglecting positive imagery and appealing visual themes.

3. Tell a Story with Your Site Copy

It isn’t uncommon for designers to think of copy in secondary terms, the text that merely complements the design. Of course, marketers understand that language is one of the most important elements of a cohesive marketing message. Copy is also one of the most versatile components of a modern website. Most brand settle on a static logo and page design that only changes very rarely, while copy can be edited frequently. Use this key to your advantage to change your narrative as your brand evolves.

4. Choose the Right Photos and Images

Images are another overlooked factor on many websites. When choosing photos for your site, it’s almost always preferable to steer clear of stock photography, which reads fake and inauthentic. Think carefully about what images will strengthen the message of your marketing language. Focus on the real deal: photos of your staff members, products, and storefront, offices, or dining room.

5. Communicate Value Above All Else

Creating the visual appearance of your site gives you the perfect opportunity to spend some time tailoring the profile of your target customer. Look at your site objectively and ask, “What is my buyer seeking?”

Think of successful brands that have trailblazed with their marketing initiatives. Apple uses visual aesthetics to demonstrate their products’ superior value to the traditional home PC, and Whole Foods plasters health logos and farm imagery on its ads to connect with health-conscious consumers.

Consider A/B testing if possible, or simply have some brutally honest friends and colleagues take a look at what you’ve created. Ask reviewers to describe the site in two or three words. If you’re on the right path, you should hear adjectives that clearly describe what your brand is all about.

How Millennials are Changing the Face of the Wine Industry

Representing some $200 billion in annual spending power, the millennial buyer holds unlimited appeal for marketers. As businesses shift their focus from Generation X to millennial shoppers, many industries are grappling with the changing needs of today’s buyer. Nowhere is this more evident than the beverage industry, where wineries and distributors are scrambling to understand how to most effectively market alcohol to these consumers.

Understanding Evolving Perceptions

Historically, much of the American public has seen wine as a celebratory drink to be enjoyed at special events or alongside a decadent meal. According to AdWeek, 7 out of 10 adults do not drink wine regularly. And yet, some of the industry’s largest players are witnessing a notable increase in consumption patterns as millennials eschew beer in favor of wine. Unlike their parents and grandparents, however, wine isn’t viewed as an upscale drink, but rather, a relatable beverage to be enjoyed daily.

Wine producers have responded with gusto, producing more affordable wines and embracing the adventuresome spirit of millennial consumers. This shift is partly responsible for making the United States the largest wine consumer (volume) in the world, replacing France for the first time.

Rethinking the Marketing Message

Studies have shown millennials are relatively brand loyal, eager to engage with their favorite companies via social media, and increasingly turning to the web to make buying decisions. These trends greatly impact how wine marketers need to think about selling their wares. The product itself is also evolving, as producers turn to single-use glasses, packages, boxes, and even cans. Millennials have continually demonstrated their willingness to embrace new ideas in the world of wine, in stark opposition to older buyers who have shown strong resistance to leaving the glass bottle behind.

Preparing for Increased Demand

The Wine Market Council reports that wine-drinking millennials are increasing consumption year over year, and while millennials only represent 29% of the total market, they consume 34% of the product. The consumption increase has been so notable that some within the industry feared an impending shortage in late 2013. While shortage fears have largely been assuaged, many industry players feel the numbers will continue ticking upwards, creating plenty of movement within the brewing and distribution spaces.

For small wineries and distributors looking to ride the wave of the future, it’s important to carefully monitor how millennials are consuming wine and make changes accordingly. As demand rises, more businesses will likely attempt to enter the industry, increasing competition and giving consumers even more options to consider. To keep sales strong, wine sellers need to consider embracing alternatives to the expensive bottles of yesteryear, making room for lower-end products that are accessible for millennials looking for a refreshing beverage to enjoy with a burger and fries.