Writing a Great Website RFP
Design & Development
It’s time for a brand new website or website redesign, which (depending on your organization) means that you’ll need to write a request for proposal (RFP). A simple Google search will provide a plethora of examples, but they all vary depending on the industry and product. They don’t necessarily lend much advice pertaining to your goals for designing or redesigning your website. For a web agency to understand what your goals are, you’ll need to write in an RFP format that clearly defines what your needs are. To help maximize your responses, we’ve laid out a request for proposal template outline for what to include when going through your RFP process.
Brief Project Overview
Introduce your organization and the purpose of the RFP project. In a high level format, state what you are looking for the website developer to do, as well as why. Explain the pain points of your current website, and what about it isn’t working for your business purposes.
Your Organization’s Background
Describe your organization in more detail. Include your purpose, your values, and what makes you unique. Chances are, if you are looking for a new website we may not be able to gather that information from your existing site. A web design agency will give specific recommendations based on your thorough explanation.
Based on your current knowledge, outline your top competitors and include how your business stacks up against them based on their strengths and weaknesses.
- How does their market share compare to yours?
- What position do they use that makes their products or services unique (according to them)?
- Are you offering products that they aren’t?
- Do they use more advanced technology?
- How detailed are their product descriptions?
- What methods for contact do they offer? – Do they limit their phone support hours?
- Is there a product you know you outsell them on?
- How does your pricing compare?
These are just a few questions to get you started identifying your competitive advantage (and disadvantage) in the marketplace.
In your RFP template, layout what you plan to accomplish with this project and the outcome you are looking for. Explain who your target audience is and the actions you want them to take on the website. Are you looking to bring in more qualified leads? Are you hoping to make more sales? Are you trying to attract prospective employees? The more clearly you articulate what you are looking for from the process, the more likely you are to reach your goals.
Scope of Work & Deliverables
For an accurate project quote, your website RFP should list and describe the web design services you’ll be hiring a team for. Some examples may include:
- Design – Include any imagery ideas, navigation bar requirements, number of web pages you’ll need, or even concepts for your About Us page
- Content Management System – Are you looking for a proprietary or open source system?
- Custom functionality – Include any technical requirements such as actions to be taken after an RFQ is submitted, implementing a chatbot, or even a resource page for downloadable content
- CRM integration – Will you be needing your new site to integrate with your current Customer Relationship Management System?
- Content development- Have you developed your strategy, or will you be looking for a road map? Will you be requiring blog posts, whitepapers, or other downloadable content?
- Copy writing – A new website also means new copy! Do you have an experienced writer on staff that can implement SEO?
- Search engine optimization – A crucial piece to ensuring your business is found when prospects are looking
- Mobile optimization – A must in today’s digital world, but what kind of user experience do you want your customers to have?
- Quality assurance testing – To ensure your agency will follow up post-launch, it’s a great idea to ask about their QA testing practices
- CMS training – Are you familiar with the agency’s primary CMS, or will your staff require training?
- Paid search advertising – After the launch of your website, will you be utilizing PPC to drive traffic?
The services you are looking to include on your web project will determine the estimated time to complete the project as well is the projected cost. By giving your vendor an idea of the work that will be required, you’ll be setting yourself up for the most accurate estimate.
Be as detailed as possible in your RFP process, and include any functionality requirements or limitations you may have. An e-commerce site might require shopping carts, user accounts, inventory control, or shipping calculators. A financial or government site will require higher security standards. Does your business depend on third party tools for email, online review collection, customer relationship management, or HR online application integration? What functionality will you need on your careers page? What needs to happen when someone fills out an RFQ form? Is user accessibility important to your organization? What additions are being added to your site that you don’t currently have? These kinds of questions and details will allow agencies to properly quote the project and can skew both your estimated project cost and timeline.
When writing a request for proposal, consider any websites out there that you like or admire. Include any examples of existing sites that align with the vision of your own. This can be anything from the overall experience or even specific elements, such as contact forms or scrolling features. It can be difficult to explain your vision in writing, so providing examples of websites you’d like to emulate will provide great value to the vendor.
Ongoing Support / Retainer
Any web designer can launch a website, but what happens to the site and your business after it goes live? Ideally, your new site is just the beginning of the process. Consider how you will drive traffic to the website, how you will adapt to technology changes, and change features moving forward. Your investment deserves care and attention post-launch as well. Seek out a full-service website company that will not only build your website, but will also maintain a strong relationship to work with you on maximizing its value afterwards.
It’s always a good idea to be as transparent as possible with your budget. If you’re uncertain of an exact number, be sure to provide a range. This will allow agencies to determine if they would be a good fit or if they have the resources to work within your required budget. The best agencies will consider your goals, your values, and your budget to prioritize service recommendations to work within your given budget.
Although you may not know how much time will go into your web project, list any important deadlines as a guide to your vendor in your website RFP. Include the date you are sending out the proposal, a deadline to submit any questions, when proposal submissions are due, and an estimated time you want your site to go live. Agencies will be looking for a realistic timeline, so it’s best to discuss the deadlines with your team before committing to the dates.
Criteria for Selection
Finally, include and criteria your organization will use to base their decision on selecting a web partner. This section will not only help your business make an informed decision, but will also let the prospective vendor know if they are qualified to send a proposal. You can require items such as:
- Company background
- Information on the web team (experience, certifications, locations)
- How they approach a project and plans on addressing all required components
- How a project is managed and scheduled
- Project costs for website build out, ongoing maintenance, and web hosting
- Link to portfolio of sample websites
- References from past clients
The more detailed you list your requirements, the easier it will be for you to compare your options. Of course, several of these will be important, so weight them according to what matters most to your organization.
For Your Consideration
Utilizing any sections that will reflect who you are as a company, your goals, and your desired outcome will ultimately influence the final product. A great request for proposal document will reflect what you are looking for in a web partner, but will also help the website company determine if a partnership will make sense for both of your organizations.
Putting together a detailed outline will require some time from your team, but it will ultimately lead to the very best of proposals. If Top Floor were to receive a request for proposal, we’d be overjoyed by the thoroughness! It signals to us that you’re ready to take the project seriously, that you’re investing time to understand what success means to you, and that you are respecting the time it takes us to put together a quality proposal for your business.
How can we assist with your website design? Drop us a line. Our web design team crafts websites that resonate with your intended targeted audience and engage them instantly. A great website is more than pretty graphics and exciting fonts; a great website is an investment that brings new customers, sells your services, and improves your existing client relations.
We look forward to hearing from you!
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