If you have already received approval from your board of directors, set a budget, and acquired grant funding for a new website, it is now time to send out a request for proposal or RFP. A website RFP is sent out by your organization to dozens of web design agencies in order to determine the best agency for your needs.
We get an RFP, or Request for Proposal, about website redesign pretty regularly. A number of projects and updates are simple and straightforward. Others have much more potential for miscommunication as the term Web Design RFP. A lot of the time, we’ll open up an initial contact from a form submission and see questions along the lines of “We need a new website; how much do you charge?”
It’s crucial you comprehend how web design projects range from basic things like static sites created for less than a thousand to complicated, such as something with a website budget in the six digits. If you’re not able to clearly communicate your specific needs and wants, then no design company could possibly quote it accurately.
Something else we find equally frustrating is an RFP the size of a handbook when one lands in our email’s inbox. These are almost always the product of some committee brainstorm that went off the rails. If a web designer needs a Ph.D., rocket scientist, or lawyer to figure out your RFP, or a few dozen hours are needed for the compilation of a spec response, then you’re not doing it right. Generally, we don’t even respond to such requests. It’s not because we fear hard work, but more because we know how an RFP sets a standard tone for the following project. If you’re not able to respect our time with concise communications when you first reach out to us, what’s going to happen in the middle of a project?
If a client and designer are going to figure out how they can work together, much less if they even can, then they need clearly defined project expectations and requirements.
The right web design RFP clearly and neatly establishes what you all are trying to accomplish with a website, as well as find alignment between the designer and a client’s objectives and goals. It might seem intimidating writing your RFP at first, but it need not be that way. Taking precious moments now can spare you many more hours, later on, ensuring your designer is able to develop a proposal with accuracy about your particular project.
So, prior to even contacting any designer, you should take some time to not just write a request for proposal, but an appropriate one. To give you a hand in this, we’ve assembled a simple guide you can use to go through this process.
A Web Design RFP’s Top 10 Crucial Components
1) Provide A Business Overview:
This is the section that introduces us or someone else to your business. As such, think of content more befitting an introduction than a thesis. Tell us briefly just who you are, what it is you do, the size of your business, your current URL, and what overarching corporate mission or vision statement you might have.
2) Establish The Project Overview:
Write down in a simple to understand language what your current situation is regarding your website, so you can provide us with some overview of just what this project needs to entail. There’s no need to go overly formal or even politically correct in this part, as corporate semantics sometimes muddle this message. Write this just like you would if you were describing your project to a family member or friend.
3) State The Project Objectives And Goals:
This is the section to list out both short- and long-term objectives for this project, and your motivations for investing resources into your website.
It aims to answer the question: “why are you here?”
- Is your website outdated?
- Have you expanded your services/product line?
- Are you marketing to a different target audience?
- Are you trying to attract job candidates?
- Or are you finding your existing site isn’t converting to enough sales?
Tell us what you want to achieve.
4) Define The Technical Parameters:
This is the part where we often see our client’s eyes start to glaze over. If you already know what your technical requirements entailed in the project will be, you should tell us here.
These parameters range from the basics:
- how many pages and unique layouts do you need
- do you need hosting
- do you need a domain name
To more advanced questions:
- do you require programming in one specific language over another
- is your current site in .PHP, .net, asp, HTML etc
- do you need databases
- do you have license or preference for a given e-commerce platform
If it doesn’t matter, tell us that too – giving your designer the option to work in their preferred language will save you money and time. Our common recommendation is WordPress, given the cost-effectiveness and flexibility it provides.
5) Determine The Usability Requirements:
Usability testing is, unfortunately, a step that is often overlooked in terms of the design and development of a website. You’re surely familiar with how companies put a new product through a focus group, or even multiple focus groups as part of the research and development process. Consider that any website also needs to undergo a minimum round of basic usability testing in order to figure out just how strongly the design-build holds up in actual use. This is where you should tell us about user research or persona development. Even if you’re not into such specifics, we still have to know about your target audience. Any relevant statistics you have regarding the demographics of existing website visitors should be referred to here. Run us through the specific flow you’d like any visitors to your site to follow.
6) Illustrate The Functional Parameters:
In the most basic terms, this section needs to pose the question of:
What you actually want your website to do.
This is where you outline functionality and features such as a secure members area, file uploads, content management, newsletter opt-in forms, news sections, an FAQ, e-commerce, discussion forums, blogs, custom admin areas, database development, or contact forms.
7) Write Down Proposal Directions:
This is the spot to ask questions you have for us and let us know how you’d like your proposal to be laid out. Many RFPs we get to ask our designers to talk about professional experience, demonstrate sample work, outline the project process plan, give bios of the essential personnel, and provide references. Many of these are basics that you would think would already be on a designer’s website, and so is likely included in their boilerplate proposals. However, if you have specific questions, toss them in here. Not long ago we got an RFP asking for us to list out our top 10 favourite musicians or groups. That project was pretty standard, but we found the question so delightful, we couldn’t resist responding in person.
8) List Your Contact Information:
This is where you should let us know who the primary contact point is or the project leader. Give us the phone number, name, email, and billing address of that individual. Also, tell us how you want the proposal to get submitted.
- Do you want it emailed?
Give us your timeline.
9) What’s Your Budget?
This is a part that quite a few clients just gloss over initially. We know that you’re human, and it’s human nature to get the most you can for as little expense as possible, but we also know from personal and professional experience that some unscrupulous designers pad their quotes to the max in order to stretch your wallet as much as they can. We’re not like that, so we don’t do that. Be honest with us about how much you can afford, and we’ll return that respectful honesty with what we’re able to do with those dollars. Even should your budget lack a little, we know how to make compromises here and there that make things more accommodating. If you have no budget at all, then you’re not ready. Corporate identity and development and marketing should both have existing budgets in your business plan, and they apply here.
10) What’s Your Timeframe?
This one should be easy. Do you have a general idea when you’d like this done? On the other hand, do you have hard deadlines we need to know about? Keep in mind that many designers charge premiums for a rush job, as you’ll be bumping out other paying customers in line to provide you priority status.
When it all comes down to it, each RFP winds up being its own thing. The list provided here is really just a guideline to help you out in getting an honest, robust, and accurate project estimate from a designer. You might need to scale your own RFP to suit the size and scale of your own website, but you’re not likely going to need much more on top of what is outlined in this content.
Whether you choose us or not, we’re always ready to help anyone wanting assistance in putting together their RFP.