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Most Common Questions of Website Design Bids and RFPs

1. Difference between hosting and maintenance.

Many understand the main difference, the innuendos are what cause the cost variable.

  • For large content management system (CMS) based sites you need individual (not shared) hosting.
  • Host server speed and reliability are the next considerations.
  • Although your Small Business, City, County or Government website may not have large traffic volume normally, you may have an increase if there is a storm or a major event that drives people to the site all at once. It needs to handle that. Most professional bidders won’t be working with a personal server in their home office. There may be some clarification needed once you get down to the chosen few bidders.

    2. Design Development Platform (WordPress, Drupal, Custom CMS, etc.)

    Big debates on this one.

    • WordPress is the most recognized, so is the most likely to have features desired now and in the future. Also if there is an issue there are many local experts to fix or update and not have to hit the budget hard.
    • Drupal – is a strong CMS, it is a good program. Some of our clients have found it is not as easy to learn. There are also not as many developers available resulting in higher pricing and harder to find experts.
    • Joomla! – We don’t see as much about this one anymore but it is still out there – not as many developers supporting it as previous.
    • Custom CMS – Many developers can build their own CMS. Before we embraced the simplicity and ease of updating of WordPress we also did so. However, the code is proprietary, and if something happens to the developer or someone else has to step in, it can get costly to pay someone to decipher what the original company did. The other caveat is if you want to move away from it, you are starting from scratch again. With WordPress and Drupal you can move to a new template, a new host, a new developer, and you can do as little or as much as you want. You don’t have to start all over.

    There are other free CMS systems such as WIX, Weebly, Chamilo. Dotclear, Serendipity, Typo3.. etc. Typically these systems are very basic. They are great for individuals or small businesses with little to no budget, but hopefully are not recommended by any responders for your Small Business, City, County or Government website RFP.

    We are partial to WordPress, we have chose it as the best CMS for our customers for over 10 years and have not regretted it due to its ease of use (front and back end) and high level of customization.

    3. Maintenance – look for clarification on this line item.

    Maintenance can be a developer/designer posting every meeting, street light out, etc. or just updating software and maintaining backups. There is a wide range. When you are closer to the chosen few RFPs or bid responders, make a list of what you think you are going to need (example: Updates, File Back-up). You may find some for the maintenance estimates include more than your Small Business, City, County or Government website needs and there could be a considerable cost savings per year.

    We are happy to answer any questions when we bid on your website project as are most designers and developers, so don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

February 2017

We Can Be Vigilant Without Being Vigilantes

Our online activity feeds the algorithms of web browsers, websites, and social media sites so that they can serve us content we want to see. If I like cat videos, I’m fed more cat videos—and cat food ads.  If I frequent environmental advocacy websites search results and ads may feature sustainable products and news feeds will cover #starvingrock and #epa.

If I have shown disdain toward environmental causes, I will be fed entirely different content. In this case, I can be thankful that my browser has determined I am about living on earth — not destroying it! Yet, can I have a strong voice if I am unaware of what the opposing views are?

I hope that you will view this note as a reminder that we are seldom making our own decisions online. And yes, marketers are to blame. Your online actions inform us about your interests and habits and making it much easier to sell you stuff.

Explore with an open mind

I encourage you to visit websites with altering viewpoints, surf in an incognito window when you are getting prices for hotel stays, shoes, or small business supplies. Reach out to the friend or coworker who opposes a cause you love. Be open to other views and see what happens!

8 ways to determine if an article is fake news

On the blog this morning we discuss fake news and ways we can stop spreading it. The sooner we address these practices the sooner we can get back to finding more pretty fonts or stalking our teens on snapchat… there’s a month of daily newsletters right there.

Please stay connected!

December 2016

Connection Group
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

May Your Days be Merry and Bright

We hope you have received your 2017 Connection Group calendar in the mail by now.

Here’s wishing you and your family and friends a very fun, safe, and joyous holiday!

We will be closed for the holidays on the following days:

Monday December 26, 2016
Friday December 30 and
Monday January 2

We have big changes ahead for 2017 and we hope you will stay connected!

November 2016

Taking Care of Business:
Give Thanks to Local Business

Locally, a group of us have taken a grassroots approach to the #shopsmall movement. The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, along with the Capital Regional SBDC is organizing Shop Small With Us – Love for Charlotte Businesses. From yarn and quilt shop specials, a visit from Santa, s’mores, and a free kids movie at the local theatre, Charlotte will be a fun-filled destination for families.

I’m happy we played a part in the planning and graphic design and social media promotions we donated for the #shopsmall movement. Personally, I prefer the service and unique gifts I find from small businesses. Professionally, it is primarily small businesses who keep us growing. From brand identity and management, web design and maintenance, and social media management, the bulk of our customers are small businesses.

Regardless of where you are in the country, or the world, when you are shopping for goods and services, remember to start small.

Be StrongSocial Media Gems

I’m going to be self indulgent this month. My favorite social media share recently is the one on the right. I love a good quote, I love inspiring words, add cleaver design and beautiful graphics and I’m a fan for life. We have created social media graphics and Facebook page covers you can use for free. Find the ones that inspire you, then share them to inspire others. Keep sharing and we will keep creating!
Find Us On : Facebook, Pinterest,LinkedinTwitter, Instagram

October 2016

Business card design for small business

Taking Care of Business:
Driving Revenue to Your Brand

We have used Mailchimp for Connectivity and for our customer e-mail marketing for many years. Similar to WordPress, the website design and management software we recommend, Mailchimp is easy-to-use and reasonably priced. Mailchimp has become a leader in the email marketing space and continually adds new automated features.

Today I want to pass along a Skillshare video training highlighting new features Mailchimp has created for e-commerce websites. For those of you who sell products or services through your website, these new e-commerce features can help stimulate sales. (If you don’t want to join Skillshare, click the bottom right corner to view the videos.)

For those of you who have not implemented e-mail marketing into your marketing mix, Mailchimp has an extensive knowledge base and step by step instructions to set up your first campaign.

If you need help implementing these new features, please give us a call. We can add automated features to your website that assist your do-it-yourself e-mail marketing efforts. We can also take the reigns and develop weekly, monthly, or quarterly email campaigns to keep your customers informed and help you stay connected.

Social Media Gems
google gif

Ever wonder how your friends social media gets hacked? Or how yours got hacked? Many times hacks come from apps connected to your accounts — often from apps you don’t use anymore, or never have used. Google created a gif encouraging cleaning apps from your Google account. You can check your Facebook Apps here.

Find Us On Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin, and Twitter

September 2016

Business card design for small business

Taking Care of Business:

Business Card Design for Small Business

As a graphic designer I have been known to break a few corporate rules. However, I don’t get too crazy when it comes to business card design. At least when it comes to the shape and size of business cards. As in most industries, there are standards to follow that help consumers and industry professionals.  Challenges, expense and frustration occur when products vary from  industry standards.  An innovative product may be deemed unusable. A company who chooses to break from the norm may be striving to create a new standard (Hello Apple iphone7 headphones). In other instances they may not have compiled the proper research. Or they are just going rogue.

Lately, when attending networking events the business cards I have garnered are in a variety of shapes and sizes. Creative business card design is a valuable investment for start ups as well as established corporations. But, it is important not to get too far away from the norm… read more on the blog

Social Media Gems
feng shui color meanings infographic

We love the practice of Feng Shui here in the office. Our most popular blog post for the longest time was Bring Good Energy to Your Business – Feng Shui Your Brand.  We stumbled cross (aka – got lost in Pinterest for a while) this Feng Shui color meaning infographic. Check out your brand visuals. Do the elements flow, does your color suit your brand personality?  Is it time for a Feng Shui cure? Give us a call, let’s map it out.

Don’t miss the fun, Find Us On Facebook, and Twitter..,


August 2016

Taking Care of Business:
Still getting SPAM?

What are you doing wrong? 

  1. You clicked unsubscribe. Seems like the natural solution, right? Wrong. All this action does is alert spammers they found an email that is actually in use.*
  2. You replied to the spammer.  Oh no! First of all, when you reply to them, you inadvertently whitelist their email address. They can now send you every diet pill, designer watch, or Prince Abdul email they would like. Plus they now get to share your email address with all of their spammy friends.
  3. Colleagues cc you in messages – Every person cc’d in the message will have your email address. These people may not be spammers (or are they???…) If any of the recipients email addresses are hacked, your email can be found and harvested as well – increasing your susceptibility to spam.
  4. You didn’t read the small print. Some sites you subscribe to will sell your email address to other companies ( other spammers).
  5. You say you only release your email to reputable companies? Sadly some reputable companies have dishonest employees who can make an easy buck selling these lists.

The best response to spammers is to identify it as spam in your mail client – click junk and be done. If you mark something as spam multiple times your email reader will eventually get smart and send it straight to junk.

*If you have emails you subscribed to and you no longer wish to receive them you can safely unsubscribe. Constant Contact, Mailchimp, Emma, etc. are legitimate services that will unsubscribe you safely. Don’t mark these ones as junk. When you mark an email as junk it does effect the grading of that email list negatively.

Good luck cleaning those inboxes!

Facebook Gems

Do you behave this way on social media? We’re all a little guilty….

You may recognize yourself in a few of these cartoons from this recent post on our Facebook page.

Don’t miss the fun, Find Us On Facebook, and Twitter..,

July 2016

10 MORE Event Marketing Elements

10 Event Marketing Items Needed for Successful Events

In a previous blog we touched on the first 10 event marketing elements needed for successful event marketing. For a successful campaign you can’t stop at just the first 10…read more on the blog…

Taking Care of Business:
What Do Your Customers Think of You?

annual event marketing posterOf course they love you! Why not have them share the love? One of the best ways for instant credibility with prospects is to have positive Google reviews. Google reviews are displayed on the right hand side of the search page. (As long as you have verified your company with Google.)

Want to see how it works? How about reviewing us?! Please go to this link and be the first to review us.

Now it’s your turn: 

  1. Create an email requesting a review.
  2. Search your company in Google search.
  3. Click on “Write A Review” or “Be the First to Review” under your company profile.
  4. Go to your title bar and copy the entire URL
  5. Paste it into the email (step 1) as the link to take them to review.
  6. Identify most recent happy customers
  7. Send the email to an individual customer or BCC a group of customers.
  8. Send the review-request email (from Step 1) to the happy customers from step 6.
  9. If you have a Google Business page, you can be alerted when you get new reviews.
  10. Respond to reviews within 24 hours! Do this on the review site, in public.

Review generating tools can be used also but are not necessary especially when contacting indivduals.

Facebook Finds…

If you know me, you know I love flowers, trees… to be outdoors. And of course, creating design, throw repurposing in and I am in heaven. This recent post on our Facebook page covers all of the above. Is it closing time yet? I’m inspired to go play in the garden! Keep the cleverness coming,Find Us On Facebook, and Twitter

June 2016

10 Event Marketing Items Needed for Successful Events

10 Event Marketing Items Needed for Successful Events
If you are responsible for planning events, a visit to the blog may be in order. You’ll find a list of standard event marketing items that are needed to successfully market your event…read more on the blog…

Summer Hours: 9 am – 5 pm Monday – Thursday • Friday 9 am – 4pm
Our offices will be closed July 4th. Have a happy and safe 4th of July! 

Taking Care of Business:
Do You Have A Summer Tradition?

annual event marketing posterAn early June event at Herman Miller Headquarters in Zealand, Michigan raised the discussion of Herman Miller’s Annual Company Picnic and corporate retreats. Commemorated each year with a newly designed poster, the Herman Miller Annual Picnic is well recognized with business and design audiences. Our plan for Connection Graphic’s  Annual Retreat is to balance recognition and education with fun each year.

I wonder how many of our readers have Summer Meetings or other ways to connect? I would love to hear about your gatherings:

  • Do you love them or hate them?
  • What was the more fun you’ve had?

Hopefully you and your team will find a place away from the office to connect for planning, pausing and play each year. Enjoy the summer!

Take a Look at These Redesigned Food Logos With Calorie Counts

Are you trying to eat healthier this summer? These logos can help you make more conscious choices.  Keep the cleverness coming, Find Us On Facebook, and Twitter

May 2016

How Websites Are Like Hairstyles
or…understanding the importance of updating websites

I often joke that outdated websites are like hairstyles, one glimpse and you know from which decade they came.

Connection Group started offering website design for businesses and organizations in 1998.  Sadly, some of the innovative companies and organizations who jumped into the internet then are still working with the same, but now very outdated, website! Others who didn’t understand the importance of updating websites have long since closed their doors.

Take a look at these outdated websites from a web design and developers eye.  We’re going to poke fun at ourselves… so as not to offend anyone…read more on the blog…

Did you ever see our Adobe Flash website? It’s still fun to look at… although Flash was so difficult to what I remember most about this website is how long it took to create it and how much it cost… now obsolete. That’s business sometimes!

Taking Care of Business:
3 Things Every Business Must Do To Increase Revenue

  • Keep Current Customers – How? Keep in touch. Check in with them. Are they happy with your service? Do they have any concerns with quality, value, service…?
  • Get More Customers – How? Ask for referrals. If customers are pleased with your work ask them! “As you know I am working hard to grow business, do you know anybody who could benefit from our products or services?
  • Sell More to Your Current Customers – How? Do you have similar products or services that would be of value to your customer? If a service can be complimented by another service you offer, make customers aware of it. Consider bundling them together and offer existing customers special rates.

Based on presentation by Dr. Kelley O’Reilly – Western Michigan University


Get Social:
Pop Mashups Of Everyday Objects

Longtime fans of repurposing, we had to share these on the Connection Group Facebook page earlier this week. Keep the cleverness coming, Find Us On Facebook, and Twitter