Azzcat Blast

Design stories & tips, peppered with life's little tidbits

WordPress…the App!

August 7th, 2010


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…

sample blueprintBillings 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.

2011 Update

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!

14 Responses to “WordPress…the App!”

Mark McCorkell
August 9, 2010

I’ve only recently started using Billings and I’m loving it so far. The custom template designs melted my mind at the start. I literally spent 8 – 9 hours working on an invoice design until I finally got one looking sleek. 

The WP Bids does look excellent! My first impressions though makes me think it might take a while to set up? Am I wrong? For what it does though it does look to be the best out there at the moment!

August 9, 2010

“The custom template designs melted my mind at the start.” LOL! At least you stuck with it, Mark! I tried a couple of times, but never gave Billings that many hours. ;-)

Comparatively, styling WP Bids is a cake walk.

Billings still necessary for managing the time clocks, clients and invoicing. But using WordPress for proposals is brilliant. Eventually, I’ll set up the template to include a sidebar of relative links to explanatory articles like:

  • design process
  • what’s a moodboard?
  • what’s a wireframe?
  • what’s a comp?
  • etc.

Like I said, it’s a brilliant concept!

August 11, 2010

Thanks for the AWESOME review of WP Bids! I’m thrilled to see fellow web workers making use of it :)

I use FreshBooks for invoicing / bookkeeping / time tracking and I love it for those things. It does have an “estimate” feature, but it’s a true “proposal”, which is what led me to seeking/developing an alternative.

@Mark – The idea behind WP Bids is to make it quick and easy to set up on Day 1. It’s designed and built to be used solely for proposals, not a typical blog.

Check out @Anywhereman’s recent review and video walkthrough of him setting up his first WP Bids proposal:


August 11, 2010

This is a test — my last comment seems to be displaying someone else’s gravatar!

August 11, 2010

I think it’s caused by the Twitter Username. I forgot to fill mine in the first time.

Joshua Russak
August 19, 2010

I think this is a great tool, but if there’s a way for it to integrate e-signatures, that would be amazing. Also, have you used Zoho Invoice? A great affordable option for billing clients. (Wow, I sound like a comment spammer). Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll take a closer look at WP Bids tomorrow.

August 19, 2010

And I’ll look at Zoho. Don’t know about e-signatures. That would be cool. I know a bunch of friends at #DCTH who would be interested, too!

Thanks for stopping by, Joshua.

Sparky Firepants
September 3, 2010

This is great. Your sample is super clear and easy to follow.

Although I’m partial to the name Billings, I’ve never used it – although I used a similar tool for the Mac that gave me lots of headaches (formatting stuff, clients couldn’t read PDFs, you know… no biggie).

I recently started using WorkingPoint. It’s a fairly complete accounting system and integrates invoices with my bank/paypal accounts. It’s heaven.

The only thing that’s missing is some kind of timer (I use Klok), but I can live with that. I don’t charge by the hour so I only track time for efficiency purposes.

Thanks for sharing this. I’ll bet WP Bids is going to grow  quickly.

September 3, 2010

Hi David! I’ve got Klok but never use it. Now that Billings has iPhone app, I can use my iTouch when wanting to keep time away from iMac. I’ll admit, though…sometimes I don’t bother with timers…just another stressor if I’m trying out some new code or problem-solving. ;-)