Writing a Website Design RFP
Someone, somewhere within your organization decided now is the time to upgrade your company’s current website. Perhaps it was you! Or maybe this is your business’s first step into having a website altogether—whether it’s finally moving into the digital age (high five!) or beginning a fresh, new business, you’ve identified the need to build a strong Web presence.
Regardless of how you arrived at the conclusion “I (we) need a new website,” the next steps you take will be critical in ensuring a smooth development process, from start to finish. And we’re here to help guide you in the wonderful, wild journey to a new website.
You’ve likely asked yourself, “Do I have the resources and the development team to tackle this process in-house?” And if you’re here, the answer is probably no. Great, that’s the first step: identifying that your business will need assistance by a third party. But whom?
Building a website is a big deal. You are trusting a designer or an entire design firm with publishing your brand online—maybe for the first time, even. For many businesses, a website is the initial impression a potential customer will have with a brand. It’s important to get this 100% right. How do you go about selecting the design firm with whom to work and trust?
Enter the Website Design Request for Proposal (RFP): a formal process to acquire bids from design firms for your set of website specifications.
Is an RFP required?
For working with Bytes.co? Not at all! Some design firms even make it a point to simply not reply to a Website Design RFP. Your organization may require the RFP process for a number of reasons. A Website Design RFP, in many ways, gets everyone onboard with the project and speaking the same language. It defines the problem and the outcome your organization would like to see. It’s the what and the why. The reply to the RFP is the how. That’s where we come in.
Writing a Website Design RFP and replying to one is extremely time intensive. You should make sure this is absolutely necessary before you set out down this path. Of course, we’d love to chat with you about your website design needs, RFP or not.
Thinking you might not need to write a Website Design RFP after all? Give us a call at 802-448-4001!
If the RFP is required and this is your first foray into writing one, we’ve provided an outline to help you with the process.
Already have an RFP written and would like to solicit us to write a response? Please fill out the form here or click on the button in the sidebar.
Structure of the RFP
Okay, so you need to write a Website Design RFP. A few things to consider before you begin:
- What problem are you trying to solve? Having clearly defined goals for your new website will help keep your RFP focused and on track. We’ll go into how to determine this below.
- What is the appropriate tone for your RFP? This should be dictated by the brand for which you are developing the website and the culture and values of your organization. If you are an outdoor supply company with a young, fun vibe, you will want to convey this throughout the RFP. Tone also helps a Web Design firm identify whether or not they are a good fit for your organization and the right language to use when replying.
- To whom are you sending the RFP? Did we mention how time intensive of a process this is? Identify about five Web Design Firms with whom you’d like to work. If your brand is an educational institution, you might want to select firms that have experience building websites for companies like yours. Ask around for referrals, look at similar websites and see if the designer is listed in the footer, or do a Google search.
Introduction & Project Overview
This is where you identify the need for a new website, whether it’s an overhaul of the current one or a first time website—you’ll want to clearly state how you and your organization have arrived at this point. Keep this to a paragraph. It should include:
- Summary of the project
- Quick introduction to who you are
- Your “thesis” statement—what you’re looking to achieve with a new website
Budget for the project
- Ideal launch date for the new website
About Your Organization
Here is where you can dive into a more formal introduction to your organization. One to two paragraphs are sufficient here. This section should include:
- Who, What, Why, and How for your business
- Company overview and leadership
- Products & Services you provide
- Company Mission/Vision
- How you grow your business
- What makes your organization stand out from the competition
Who are your customers? Is there a particular segment you’d like to grow or better target with a new website? How much you write all depends on the different customer segments you have. In general though, this section should include:
- One brief paragraph per customer segment describing this group and their unique requirements for the website (e.g., Wholesale Distributors need to see different product pricing than End Users do)
- How the current website channels (or doesn’t channel) these segments to specific sections of the site
What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?
You and your team should be able to clearly articulate this in very tangible terms. If you can’t, then maybe you don’t need a new website after all!
We recommend creating S.M.A.R.T. goals, meaning your goal can be defined as one that is specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. An example of this is the following:
Problem – The sales order process is clunky, confusing, and we only see a Goal Conversion Rate of 2% for customers completing an order on the website.
Solution – “With a new e-commerce website and streamlined checkout process, we’d like to improve goal conversions to 8% over a one-year period.”
This section should include:
- Limitations and headaches of your current website
- Features and functionality you like about your current website
- The milestones you’d like to see with a new website
Back End vs. Front End Requirements
What would you like the user experience to be for your customers and for your staff? Do you have an in-house team who can manage content updates to your site and more importantly, how often will content updates be happening? How technical is your staff?
We recommend breaking the requirements piece into two sections: Front End (what the user sees) and Back End (what the website administrator sees and has access to).
These two sections will be the meat of your proposal and they should at least include:
- A thorough breakdown of design requirements starting with the homepage and building out from there (Keep these focused on the what and not the how; for example, say “We need to highlight Research & Education sections seamlessly throughout site” rather than “We want to use WordPress custom post-types to organize content throughout the site.”)
- Third-party plugins you need to integrate such as a CRM, Newsletter, Financial Calculators, Shipping module, etc.
- Calls to Action you’d like to feature
- Social media integration and functionality
- Technical requirements (website hosting, pages & content that will need to be easily editable, workflow, etc.)
- Who will be responsible for handling website updates moving forward
This is the section where you outline what you would like to see in the responses to your RFP. The more specific you are the better. In general though, most RFPs ask for the following from a Web Design firm:
- Company introduction & experience
- About the Design & Development Team
- Lay out a plan for uniquely solving the design challenges presented in the RFP
- Project Management process & workflow
- Timeline for development
- Ongoing support
Website design and development is a long and rewarding process. What is your ideal timeline? Are you working under any firm deadlines for the project? Will you require regular visits and facetime with the Development Team? Here is where you lay all that out. This section should include:
- Due date for proposals & selection process
- Start date for the project
- Specific milestones you’d like to see throughout the development cycle (e.g., By June 30, we’d like to have a working link to our website for review)
- Tentative launch date
- Follow up and check-in after launch
Lastly, you should provide the names and contact information for the individuals responsible for reviewing the responses to the RFP. How would you like the response delivered to you? A hard copy? Email? A presentation? You should include the main contact person’s name, title, email, address, and phone number (if applicable).