It’s an exciting and challenging time. You are about to design a new website or redesign an existing one. The world is your oyster, but which firm you choose to lead this expedition will be the deciding factor in whether or not your new site succeeds. Your first step is to construct a RFP that effectively describes your vision and the exact features, characteristics, and capabilities you want your new site to have. User experience, functionality, and usability are crucial factors that you know must be mastered if your site is to succeed. There is a lot riding on this… your site is central to the brand identity and bottom line growth of your business. You must choose the right company to lead this effort.
To help ease the pressure, we have put together a checklist that will guide you in writing though a website design RFP that will attract the best vendors, ensure you are comparing apples to apples, and ultimately lead to your making the best choice of web design firms to fit with your business goals.
Before we begin, it is necessary to point out that although the purpose of your RFP is to collect prospects that want you to hire them, the quality of your RFP will determine the quality of those prospects who respond to it. You also want to know what each vendor will offer in terms of the design, functionality and marketing effort that will be presented so you can fairly compare vendors based on the specific services and tasks they will need to perform. In effect, your RFP is just as much an audition for you as it is for the vendor. A good RFP is pithy but thorough, detailed and direct. Make sure it has the following elements:
Background/Project Overview — This first section is crucial. It is your elevator pitch that should include key information that vendors receiving the RFP will be looking for to make an initial decision on whether or not the project is worth pursuing. Be sure to include your budget and deadline in this section.
Company Overview — Here, describe your company, but be pithy. Stick to the important information that vendors need to know about your purpose and value in the marketplace. Avoid unnecessary and irrelevant historical storytelling that will distract the vendor from the task at hand.
Audience — The description of your target audience is crucial information for prospective vendors. It will determine all key elements of your site: functionality, UX, usability, aesthetics, etc.
Site Objectives — Here you will identify the primary goals of your site. Do you want it built to directly convert leads to sales, or educate while reinforcing brand authority? Your site’s main purpose will determine its design.
Functionality Requirements —This section is different from Site Objectives where you described strategic goals. Here, be specific and detailed regarding exactly what functions and requirements you need
The Wish List — In this section, include all elements of the site that are “nice-to-haves” but not absolutely necessary; optional capabilities you would like your site to have should the budget warrant it.
Ecommerce Details — If your site will have ecommerce capabilities, be specific in this section regarding product types, quantities, pricing, and projected sales growth.
Budget Details — In order to best manage expectations, reiterate your budget parameters (which were already included in your overview above). Include payment schedules, fiscal years, or any other financial details that are relevant.
Proposal Requirements — This section is a guide for vendors on how they should respond to your RFP. Try and standardize responses to make your review process more efficient and effective.
RFP & Project Timeline Details — This last section should reiterate the deadline you already mentioned in the Overview, but should also include time tables on when vendors should expect a response. You can also include your target launch dates here, but make sure your timing is realistic.
Now you are ready to write a website design RFP that will attract the right prospects and give you the best shot at choosing a winning vendor that will bring you success. Good luck!
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