In the modern world, every business is required to have a strong online presence in order to stay afloat and succeed in a highly competitive environment. But here's the thing. Unless you are a web development company yourself, you will need to hire a professional agency to take care of creating a website presenting your services and/or goods. And that's when the fun begins. You don't want to stumble upon a mediocre vendor with a questionable reputation, right? Sure thing, no one wants. That's why you may need to get familiar with what a web site RFP is and the process of its submission.
As a full-cycle software development company, Yojji receives quite a few website RFPs from different companies asking either to redesign their existing website or build a new one from scratch. Some of those documents are well-structured and easy-to-follow and provide all the information we need to reply with a good proposal. As for other RFPs, well, they could have been better.
If you want a professional vendor to build you a website, you need to know how to write a request for proposal for a website. In this article, we are going to guide through the whole process of creating a good website RFP. Not only will you find out what should be included in an RFP but you also learn what questions to ask yourself in regard to your potential vendors to know if they are a good fit for your project.
Website RFP in a Nutshell
A request for proposal for website development is an official document with the help of which a company interested in the services of web developers solicits business proposals from them. An RFP contains all the functional and non-functional requirements of a website, outlines existing issues (if there are any), and defines business objectives. The document basically serves as an invitation to make a bid on a particular web development project.
Being common practice, the RFP submission allows you to reach out to multiple vendors and provide them with your project requirements and expected perspectives. They in turn can draw a full picture of how much time and how many resources it will take to implement your project. If the web development RFP is written correctly, you will be provided with a number of proposed solutions from different agencies. They will describe the scope of work, the cost of your website, and timelines. After the exchange, there’s usually a session of questions and answers both sides take part in.
The first and foremost task of any web development request for proposal is to make the right impression on potential vendors. If you succeed during this stage, you will get yourself a good deal. The best website RFPs are consistent and clear. You don't have to know all the tech sides of the process to write a good website development request-for-proposal. After all, the tech part should be on the shoulder of web developers, not yours. Besides, a lot of web development companies offer briefs, questionnaires, and special worksheets to help you figure out what should be included in an RFP.
A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Write a Website RFP
As with any official document, you need to stick to a certain structure when you are composing a website development RFP. Below you will find a typical structure of an RFP for website design and development:
The beginning of the journey, which is going to lead you to a perfectly built website, lies in describing your project to potential vendors in one brief paragraph. This section is called "The project overview" and should contain information about who you are and why you are submitting this RFP. Being the opening statement, this section carries the biggest value influencing the decision of the readers regarding whether or not the whole document is worth reading. On top of that, depending on how well your problems and goals are explained in the project summary, vendors will be deciding if they are interested in and capable of undertaking the project.
The next section of your website RFP is a brief description of your organization. Pay special attention to the word 'brief' here. There's no need to write the whole history in detail. Introduce your company in an attractive manner by describing its workflow, culture, values, vision, the industry it operates in, etc. Perhaps, vendors who are reading your RFP have never heard of you before, so this is your chance to make a good first impression and get them interested in the project. Moreover, since you are submitting an RFP for website development, you either don't have a website at all or have a bad existing website. Anyways, unless there's an informative article about your company on Wikipedia, how else will potential vendors find out about you?
Your Website Target Audience and Core Goals
The first section partly touches your project goals and problems you need to solve with a new website. It is time to expand this topic by focusing on what outcome you expect and what goals you want to accomplish by bringing this project to life. Your project objectives should come out of your business objectives. For instance, you aim at increasing sales that is why you need to create a more convenient website so that it would be easier for visitors to buy goods. Speaking of the website visitors, you should be aware of what categories of people your website targets. If there are any target audiences that have a higher priority, mention this information in an RFP. It is also a good idea to pair each category of website users with a particular goal conversion (in other words, the action you want them to do on your website). Needless to say that the more specific you are about what you expect from the project, the more likely you get what you want.
Project Volume and Deliverables
While going through the sections of our example of an RFP for a new website, you finally find the one where you should list the services you are looking for. Your main task at this point is to describe the scope of the project and deliverables. Some organizations only want a website design, while others additionally look for SEO services and PPC campaigns. For example, if this is an RFP for website design and development or website redesign, your requirements may look like in the list below (along with short descriptions, of course):
- Web development (front-end and back-end coding)
- UX/UI, graphic design
- Content building
- QA and testing
- Project management and execution
- Maintenance and support
If your request is to build a website, the deliverables you should expect are wireframes, a sitemap, and designs. It is better if you know the differences between expected deliverables so that there won’t be any surprises from vendors.
UX (user experience) plays a vital role in how effective your website is in the eyes of the users. The way all pages and blocks of the website are organized influence whether or not users will be able to find what they came for. That’s why it makes sense to include a sitemap when writing a website’s RFP. Think about what main pages you would like to have on your website and what navigation schema would be the best fit. The main task here is to come up with the most efficient sitemap so that users could find the information they need as quickly and easily as it is possible. Trust us, no user wants to spend hours figuring out where a particular website section is. If they can’t find it quickly, they will just leave. If building a sitemap on your own sounds like a huge challenge, you may leave this task to vendors. You can just make an approximate list of pages you want your website to have i.e. Homepage, Services, Contact Us, Blog.
Here comes the heart and soul of your RFP for a new website – the section which describes all the functional requirements for your project. Make a list of any tech requirements you want your website to have such as the CMS solution (WordPress or something else?), payment processing, the preferred programming language for backend, etc. If you are planning to start an online store, you can mention an eCommerce platform. In case there should be any third-party integrations, also list them in this section. There is a golden rule here, “You may not know all the technical requirements and that’s ok, just make sure you have included the ones you do and leave the rest to the vendors”. If you are more tech-savvy, then describe every detail of your website functionalities. This section of the website’s RFP is crucial because it affects the assessment of the scope of work and prices from the perspective of your vendors.
Timeline and Crucial Deadlines
To estimate how much time it will take to build a website is quite difficult, given that one vendor can cope with the task in two months while the other one needs more time. Due to this, it is important to share information about your schedule and deadlines you need to meet. Let’s say you are planning to launch a website by the end of February, however, there will be an important conference on February 2nd and you would like to have the homepage done by that time. Make sure you mention all the important milestones and deadlines in your project. This will help vendors to decide whether or not they will be able to complete a project within the timeline you have provided.
It goes without saying that your RFP for web development has to include a budget you have. Can you imagine buying a house without letting know your real estate broker what amount of money you are counting on? This question was rhetorical of course. That’s the whole different story when a broker knows your limits and therefore can find the most suitable option for your budget. It is the same with web development. It is highly recommended to provide vendors with the budget range (the amount of money you are willing to pay for the services). You can also mention additional services for which you can offer a budget separately.
Why is mentioning your budget important? This short section will save your time and the time of vendors who are way over your budget. As a result, you only get proposals from contractors who can bring the most value for the money you offer.
Proposal Submission Format and Criteria for Selection
It will be much easier for you to come up with the right decision regarding which vendor to cooperate with if you standardize the format of proposal submission. Be open about the criteria you are going to use when picking a vendor. Is it their portfolio and relevant projects that carry the most value in terms of your decision? Or will you look at the experience of web developers as the main decisive factor? Whatever it is, be upfront about what things will influence your decision.
To make things a bit easier for you we have prepared a good website RFP template.
As scary as it looks at first, writing a top-notch website RFP is possible if you follow the structure we have provided above. Be clear about your goals and be vocal about your vision and expectations. When your RFP for web development is crafted with potential vendors in mind, success is inevitable. Keep in mind that writing an RFP takes time but it always pays off. If you have any questions or want to send us a website RFP, feel free to contact us here.