What is an RFP? RFP stands for “request for proposal”. It’s a common way for companies and individuals to request service details from a service provider including costs. Today, we’ll be going over how to write an effective RFP for web design and development.
Why do I need to write an RFP? Should I just call up a company?
RFPs often exist to create agreement and consensus within the organization prior to asking for bids. It’s just as important for the organization requesting the proposal as it is for the service provider. RFPs can also be a good test of the service provider (web design company) before you hire them. The web design company would be happy to provide a proposal with just a call. That said, by having an RFP, the organization usually benefits by analyzing their priorities before continuing.
Why are we writing this?
We are a digital agency and we get quite a few web design RFPs throughout the year. We’ve seen some good ones and some bad ones. While web design RFPs can be difficult and time consuming, we think that its a great way for organizations to focus their thoughts before approaching agencies. By providing this resource, our hope is that we can help people create good web design RFPs.
Below is an overview of what we believe makes for a good RFP from both the client perspective and the provider perspective.
We’ll be putting in examples throughout to demonstrate what might be written in each section. FYI, we used a cooking class (with a focus on organic foods) as an example company.
Goals and Objectives for the Website
- Classes Schedule/Signup
- Explainer Video
- New Photos
- Shop (product still in development)
Current Setup / Existing Site
Submission Guidelines (Proposal Guidelines)
- When did they start their business? (years of operation)
- What gives them competitive edge/different from the rest of the market?
- How many people are in the firm? (key team members)
- Do they have in-house design and development?
- Do they outsource the work?
- How generic is the writing? Do they talk about you at all in relation to the work?
- Do they do their own work? Or are they just a pass-through company? If its not obvious, ask.
- Do they seem to have creative value? Is there a sense of legitimacy?
- Do the portfolio items have any relevance to what you’re building? If not, its not the worst case scenario.
- More importantly, do they look good? Do they function well? Visit each of the sites to make sure that they are what you want.
- If none of the examples spark your fancy, judge them more on their ability to fit the audience for each of the websites. If they do a good job, there’s likelihood that they’ll do a good job for you too. Not everyone’s built a cooking class websites before, but if the team is good, they’ll know what to do.
- Does the process make sense to you?
- Does it seem like the process has a sense of attention to detail?
- Does it work with your team?
- Is it the right level of involvement for you?
- If you’re going to call a reference, have a set of questions ready. Don’t just call them. Ask them about how long they’ve worked together and what has worked well/badly.
- If they can’t provide references, think about the social skills that the company may or may not possess!
- Responsive web design (mobile compatible)
- Content management system (Be sure to use opensource CMS in case the company goes away. Don’t use in-house or custom CMS, it’s gonna be a pain later.)
- Hosted by third-party (don’t want the company to host it, they’ll own everything that way)
- Google Analytics for traffic/conversion tracking
- Social Sharing capabilities (FB opengraph tags, etc)
- Most pages loads in under 3 seconds
- Uses modern CSS3/HTML5 code
- If you have an existing site, a data and URL/SEO migration plan