Are You Comparing Apples to Apples When Reviewing Website Proposals?
A big part of getting work in the door for us is going through the RFP process. We are always submitting proposals for new prospects, or for new projects for existing clients and in partnership with other agencies. We evaluate RFPs, determine if Inclind is a good fit and if we can offer our services within the budget of the proposal. We put it together and hit submit with our fingers crossed.
But if you are on the receiving end, we realize it’s a daunting task to be sure that each proposer is offering comparable things for the price offered. Not only do you need to consider pricing and services but also the compatibility of your organization with the companies doing the proposing. After all, your team will need to be able to have a good working relationship with your developer, not just in the design, build and launch process but for long term support. There’s a lot at stake.
In the 20+ years we’ve been in this business, we’ve won some, we’ve lost some - all for various reasons and sometimes those reasons make absolute sense and sometimes we realize that maybe the people making the decision weren’t seeing the big picture. There are no crystal balls to predict the outcome of a project but, if you really can dig into what’s being offered, you can be sure that you are making a solid choice with the chance for the best outcome.
Does it start with price?
Let’s get it out of the way, shall we? The biggest factor is price. Hopefully, the RFP provides a budget range so that your proposers are working within your budget, but before you flip to the last page of the proposal to see the bottom line, make sure you know what is going into the pricing.
Is it all about the money?
Is there a proposing company that stands out to you, but the price is much higher? Does their portfolio show comparable websites to what you are looking for? Does their client list show organizations that are similar in size and reach as yours? This says a lot about what they offer for the price.
What’s behind the costs?
Some companies may really want the job, especially during these economic times and be willing to cut their rate to get it, but what else is getting cut?
Who’s behind the curtain?
Are you getting a one-person show or a team of people on the project? Even if a company is offering the proposal, it doesn’t always mean you are getting a group of experts on the job. Be sure to know who will be the account manager, designer, front end and back end developers and their level of expertise.
What are the technologies proposed?
It is important to understand the technology stack being proposed. Maybe the tech is higher level but more scalable which makes the project more complex in initial effort. This costs more in the front end but alleviates more costs down the road. Conversely, a lower-level technology may mean more updates, more security issues, and more costs with scaling up in the future.
Is it custom or templated?
Lots of costs go into a whole new website built from scratch. Money can be saved from leveraging a template but there are limitations to using templates. Your RFP should state whether the organization’s intention is to build from the ground up but be sure that proposers are adhering to the specifications.
How’s their customer service?
How much access will you have through the project as far as providing feedback, getting updates on timelines, reviews and milestones? How often will you be meeting with the developer? What kind of training and support are they offering? What is the turnaround time on questions or issues that come up?
What is the design process?
Are you getting a full creative brief, mood boards, wireframes, prototyping and site architecture? What are the deliverables? How will they be provided? If you put a high value on the aesthetic of the website, you want to be clear on what to expect to be sure that the outcome resonates with your brand and audience.
How much content management control are you getting?
Are you getting the ability to create full page layouts integrated with a design system with custom blocks or just the ability to edit existing images and text and create blog posts? How much control you will have over your content may be a high priority if you want to add pages and update your website regularly and without the need to bring in a developer.
What standards do you expect to meet?
Will your website be WCAG 2.1 AA compliant? Website accessibility is important to be sure you don’t risk losing visitors but also to avoid a possible lawsuit if the website is not ADA compliant. Google is committed to ensuring the web is accessible for everyone and ranks websites accordingly.
Is speed considered?
Does the proposal include page speed testing? Site speed and page speed is one of the factors Google uses in its algorithm to rank pages. A faster website also means a better user experience particularly with mobile users so page speed testing is a high priority.
How will content be handled?
Who is doing the work to migrate your content? How much responsibility are you taking for the project? If you are doing a website refresh, you likely intend to move existing content into the new platform. If you have a large website, content migration is a big discussion point. And, after the migration, someone should be in charge of making sure that content fits within the new structure. Does the proposal include those services?
Do they do data?
Ask proposers if they use data. Data analysis before and after a website launch is important to the success of a website. A critical part of a project should be making design and development decisions based on existing data and iterating after launch based on new user data.
What do their clients say?
Reviews aren’t just handy for products on Amazon — getting references and checking review sites are ways that you can find out how the agency builds relationships with clients. When you see clients staying on with web developers for designs and redesigns, it’s a good indicator that the agency cares about building websites and ongoing relationships.
This is a lot to take in but hopefully helps provide insight into some things to consider when reviewing proposals and choosing a web development vendor/partner. If the task still feels daunting, consider bringing in a skilled consultant. Inclind can help you review proposals and make an informed choice. Contact us today.