Most organizations have their website redesigned every two to four years, so knowing what questions and information to include in your new website RFP is extremely essential.
What is an RFP?
An RFP, or “request for proposal,” is a document that tells potential vendors what info to put in their website proposal. Typically, an organization puts together an RFP when they’re dissatisfied with their current website vendor, but aren’t 100% sure what other vendor they would like to work with.
10 Things to Include in Your RFP
What you put in your RFP matters because you want the best, most accurate info back from the web design companies. If your RFP is unclear or frustrating, potential vendors might ignore it and skip the hassle of dealing with it.
Blue Compass is a website design and development company - so obviously, we’ll be answering this from the perspective of a vendor. We’ve reviewed hundreds of RFPs over the years. But we don’t respond to every RFP we receive. Putting a proposal together can be an extremely long and intensive process. When we receive an RFP we examine two things immediately: is this a good potential client with whom our values and culture is a fit? Secondly, is this a clear, manageable, easy-to-digest RFP?
Based on our experience, here are 10 things to include in your website redesign RFP process:
#1 - Include Clear Goals in Your RFP
Think about the top three, four or five things you’d like your website to do for your brand and list out these goals in a clear, bulleted list. Then, keep an eye on how well each proposal you receive references and points towards these goals.
#2 - Make Your Website RFP Concise
Putting together an RFP shouldn’t take weeks on end. We’ve received RFPs with over 50 pages before. That’s nearly always too long. Be clear and to the point. Don’t ask for what you don’t need or what you don’t understand.
Most companies begin their new website RFP by downloading a template online. That’s a fine approach, but make sure you personalize it and understand it yourself. Asking web vendors to provide vast quantities of information that you won’t use can be a waste of time for everyone.
#3 - Include the Budget for Your Web Project
It can feel like you’re revealing too much by including your budget for the project, but it will make this journey smoother for you and your eventual website vendor.
And yes, a range is fine.
Speaking of price…
#4 - Remember that Price isn’t Everything
Imagine adding a patio onto your house. You get three estimates and simply go with the cheapest one. The process goes slowly and you end up getting nickeled and dimed. After a couple of years, the low-quality starts to show as the patio degrades and you have to seek more estimates to redesign it.
“You get what you pay for,” is usually a trustworthy statement.
That doesn’t mean you should go with the most expensive option, but remember that price is just one aspect of the proposal.
#5 - Add a Clear List of Necessary Website Functionality in the RFP
Your potential website development partner needs to understand your organization, your goals, and your audience. Deep down, however, they’re secretly wanting to see just one thing in your RFP: a clear list of the functionality you need included in the new website.
Include a bullet point list of the functionality you expect in your new website. For example:
- An event system that allows visitors to register online and pay via credit card
- A blog article system with different categories
- A media gallery that supports photos and YouTube videos, etc.
Your potential website agency will have additional questions about your list, but this is a fantastic way to clearly get their proposals going in the right direction.
#6 - Don’t Make a Decision Just Based on the Proposals You Receive
Years ago we spent dozens of hours reviewing an RFP then putting together a full, detailed proposal. The company looking for the new website wouldn’t meet with any of the vendors, however. They ultimately made their decision purely based on the proposals they received.
When you launch a new website you’re getting a partnership, not a platform.
This isn’t just a product, it’s a relationship. Be open to communicating with vendors throughout this process. Select an agency that’s reasonable, reliable, shares your values, communicates well with you and will work positively with you down the road.
Ensure this is a phased approach. Select the best few proposals and meet with those vendors in round two. How they act in person or via phone is more important than how they appear on paper.
#7 - Include Questions About the Potential Web Vendors in Your RFP
Don’t simply focus on the new website project. Ask questions about the firms you may be partnering with.
Here are a few you could include in your proposal:
- What’s your culture like?
- What are the last three websites you launched?
- What are you best at?
- What do you struggle with?
- Do you outsource work to other countries?
- How often do you check in with their clients after they launch a website?
- Can you provide employee testimonials about what they like most about working at your company?
We rarely see questions like these in RFPs, but the answers would reveal much about your potential website partner.
#8 - Ask Your Web Vendors for References
Vendors can say anything about themselves. Be sure to request testimonials and references from clients who have recently received new websites. Their perspectives will likely provide helpful insights not found in the proposal itself.
#9 - Look for Questions in the Proposals You Receive
It’s not a good sign if your vendor doesn’t ask any questions and simply submits a proposal. You want to work with an agency that’s serious about digging deep and getting to know you and your project. Seek out a partner who cares enough to get to know your organization.
#10 - Provide a Clear Project Schedule
Include a schedule with dates to ensure vendors are on the same page about when to ask their questions, submit the proposal, when your announcement about who makes it to round two will occur, when the final decision will be made, when you hope to see the website completed, etc.
These are just a few suggestions for your RFP process from the perspective of a website design & development vendor. If you have further questions, would like help writing your RFP, or are looking for a web design company to send your RFP to, don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know.