Normally, I design and build custom WordPress sites. From scratch. Designed for the client, using static HTML and CSS and then ‘WordPressified’ into appropriate templates. (My fav WP base is H5.)
And then I launch the new site.
But last week, I was introduced to an entirely new way to use WordPress—as a proposal tool! Really…I was so impressed I purchased it that day. Check it out: WP Bids.
I used it and I like it. A lot.
Estimating & Invoicing Apps
First, a little back story on estimating, proposals and ‘the quest for the right tool’…
I’ve been through several. For the last year or so, I’ve been using Billings. It’s not perfect, but to date, it best suits my needs and budget. Being a Mac app, it syncs with my contacts. Brownie point #1. It has a wonderful timer feature (+ iPhone version). Brownie point #2. It has ‘blueprints’—reusable project templates to speed up the bidding process. Brownie point #3. But…
Billings has one truly pain-in-the-butt issue—it’s damn near impossible to format the estimates and invoices to my liking. It doesn’t work like InDesign, or AI or HTML/CSS. I’ve managed to include my logo, but always give up trying to incorporate other fonts, or basic layout. (And it’s geared for designers!) :P
Bottom line, I’ve tolerated Billings’ shortcomings and use one of their templates, hating how it strings the copy into small blocks over 4 or 5 pages—totally unnecessary, even when not printing—but as mentioned above, a real pain-in-the butt to fix.
Then, in walks WP Bids and…tada!
Smart & Good Looking!
It’s built for WordPress 3.x and custom post types. The custom posts being the ‘Proposals’. You set the front page to be a root page with private view. This is the designer/admin’s page with list of proposals and URLs. It’s only visible when the designer/admin is logged in.
You send clients the URL link—and password—to their individual proposal. Way cool. No long PDF files mucking up the emails. Just send a link and PW and client can view it right there. Enable comments or not, just like other posts. If the client wants a printout, there’s already an nicely styled print stylesheet. It cut my Billings version of same information down from 4 pages to 2. Holy Eco Cool, Batman!
Here’s my sample proposal. (Sample not password protected).
Go visit WP Bids. The site is well-documented with installation video. Easy Peasy. And if you need any support, Brian is super-fast to reply. (I messed up my profile set-up and he helped me same day.) BTW…I receive NO affiliate bounty. This is just an awesome product I feel is worth sharing.
So now I’ve still got a great estimating/invoicing tool—Billings. But I’ve also got a sweet way to present the proposal to clients—WP Bids. Ultimately, it would be peachy if somehow WP Bids and Billings could interact, but that’s way out of my expertise. I’m just happy to be able to control content and presentation with reusable templates to streamline the proposal process.
Still happily using WP Bids. Note that I’ve added Google Doc Embedder plugin for including additional documents to proposal. Reaction from clients has been very positive. They like the look, easy scanning and ability to comment/question directly on the proposal. Win/win!