This is a redesign of our actual product, not just our online presence. So the most important factors for us will be usability, clarity, trust-building, and conversions. Our only real requirements relate mostly to function. We are open to designs of any style including corporate, modern, retro, illustration, hip(ster), etc (although you should consider the demographic carefully).
I can't stress enough that our goal is not to get something that is simply cool, but something that works better - the visual look is only one part of that.
We do not want to sacrifice function for form. The design must make it easier and faster for people to sign up, and give them more motivation to sign up. Our hope is that a professional design which inspires trust along with modern forms and additional features that further a trustworthy brand image, will help us achieve this goal.
See the attached documents for specifics regarding the form features we'd like - inline error messages, autoformatting, etc.
An important note: We do not merely want a refinement of what we have, we expect a complete overhaul. You are free to design this anyway you feel would help us achieve the goals outlined above. Of course, there are basic design principles and best-practices which we already follow, and you will be expected to do a better job than we have.
PRIORITY 1 - Registration page
This is our most critical page/step. Improve this all around: the look, the features, the trustworthiness, the call-to-action, the ease of use, reduce time to complete, increase conversion rate, everything - the attached docs have our feature suggestions/requirements.
In our experience, our demographic responds to images of mothers and baby/child lifestyle stuff like baby bottles and laptops on this page. You may use imagery like this, and you may not, it's up to you.
PRIORITY 2 - Offer Page (next step after registration steps)
We need to improve conversion here, without losing the basic data we need. As with the reg page, all the fields should be improved, and you need not keep anything the way it is now (though from a technical standpoint it'd be MUCH less work for us to keep the school image the same 300x300). We find the left-side form works better than right-side given our current design, but that could be 100% different with your design - so you tell us what looks good, and should perform better.
PRIORITY 3 - Blog
Basic template for the blog that emulates the site, but also incorporates sound blog features like a sidebar, category navigation, and so on.
PRIORITY 4 - Homepage
A stylistically matching homepage - we also have things like flash video of past winners that we can draw upon to create this or other parts of the site.
All your page designs should have a large degree of flexibility, not only in color scheme and/or imagery, but also in architecture.
Visually, we may change the images to fit a specific advertising push, i.e. Moms from X location, or Minority Mothers, holiday seasons like "back to school" or "New Years", etc. These different audiences will respond to different imagery at different times, so we like to have the flexibility in the design to accommodate new images and colors.
Architecturally, we may reduce the registration form down to 2 fields, and move the remaining fields to a second step that has a simplified design to take advantage of "gradual engagement." At another time we might move all contact fields to the end of the flow, and put the offer page first. Or similar flow changes.
Mothers 25-35, inside the US, looking to change careers, get raises or increase job skills for promotions, finish their degrees, etc.
Keep in mind we will roll this design out across a blog and other content areas of the site.