How To Write An RFP

How To Write A Website Design RFP (With Free Template)

How To Write A Website Design RFP (With Free Template)

Shaun Tyndall | 2023-12-08

If you’re in the market for a new or updated website, you may wonder exactly how to proceed. Depending on the age of your website, it may have been a decade or longer since you had a contract with a website design and development agency - and a lot has changed in the technology world over the past decade! In this situation, drafting a request for proposal (RFP) can help you better understand what various vendors can do for your organization.

A website RFP is a document that outlines the details and scope of your project. Ideally, it will get into the specifics of what you are hoping to achieve with a new site, what you don’t love about your current site, and what functions you absolutely want to include. It should also include details on the proposal process, deadlines, and budget.

At Inclind, our website design and development team responds to formal website RFPs and more informal requests to talk about our services. We take a collaborative approach to website design, which allows us to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome for their website projects. Reach out today to learn more about our website designweb development, and support and maintenance services

What Is An RFP?

A request for proposal - commonly referred to as an RFP - is a document that businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, and other organizations use to announce a project and solicit bids for the work. In fact, many government entities are required to publish an RFP to obtain bids before awarding a contract.

An RFP can contain many different elements. Typically, it includes:

  • A short overview of the project
  • Administrative details of the project, such as its name, submission details, criteria used for selection, and contact details
  • An overview of the company or organization, which can help in getting more accurate, personalized proposals
  • Project objectives and timeline to help potential vendors understand exactly what the organization is trying to achieve
  • Project scope and specifications, including a more detailed outline of resources, timelines, deliverables, requirements, and project boundaries
  • Proposed outcome

A well-written RFP should have enough details in it to ensure that proposals are accurate. Think of it this way: if you were seeking bids on a home improvement project for your house, you would include details like the type of work you want done, the size of the project, etc. If you leave it vague, it will be hard for vendors to submit a bid that reflects the amount of work involved. This can often lead to difficulties down the line, such as the organization being upset that certain work isn’t included as part of the bid.

At the same time, too many details can make it hard for vendors to parse. Try to keep your RFP as straightforward as possible. In the home improvement example above, you might ask for quotes on painting the exterior of your house - without getting into granular detail about the colors you’d like, why you prefer those colors, and so on.

An RFP can be written for almost any project, including a website design or redesign. As described in greater detail below, a website RFP should include information about what you want for your website, including goals you would like to achieve and issues you’d like to minimize, plus branding and creative guidance. A good website RFP will empower you to compare website design and development agencies and make a more informed decision about which company will best fit your project.

Through the website RFP process, you will also get a better idea of what each agency is like as a working partner - which is incredibly important given that you will be collaborating with them for months or even years in the future if they provide website support and maintenance. The submitted bids will allow you to look at more than just cost, as you will be able to evaluate the content of the proposals themselves. For example, if one agency proposes to use a content management system like WordPress and explains why, that can give you an idea of what they will do with the details of your website.

Keep in mind that for a lot of companies and agencies, website RFPs are not required. While they can be a good way to get bids and more information from various companies, they also need a fair amount of work on the front end. If you simply want to meet with a few website design agencies to get a feel for what they can do and their pricing structure, that can also be incredibly helpful.

How to Write a Website RFP

If you want to write a great website RFP, it’s important to take some time upfront to think about your goals before drafting the document. A great RFP will be clear about the website design or redesign goals, explain the criteria for vendor selection, and spell out details like how the selection process will work, deadlines, and contact information. It is always a good idea to remember that you aren’t just trying to pick a vendor - you are also hoping that a top-notch website design and development agency will choose to work with you.

A website RFP should contain 10 sections:

  1. Introduction: This section should provide basic information about the project so that potential vendors can decide right off the bat whether it is a project that they are interested in working on with you.
  2. Organization overview:  In this section, you will explain more about your company or organization in a few paragraphs.
  3. Website audience: This section should describe who you anticipate will be using your website. This section is crucial, as website designers must consider the audience when building your site. For example, if you expect visitors to be people from around the world, then the design team may want to add translation features to the site.
  4. Website objectives: Here, you will identify your website's primary and other goals. For example, if you run a nonprofit organization, your main goal might be to get more people to donate to support your work, with secondary objectives such as getting more volunteers.
  5. Current website information: If you have a website already, you can use this section to describe what is and is not working with it.
  6. Requirements for the new website: Here, you will lay out what functionality you require for the new site. For example, if you have an online shop, you may want e-commerce functionality. 
  7. Website wish list: In this section, you can list any features or functions that you would like to see - which may or may not be possible based on cost. Think of this section as “wants” rather than “needs.”
  8. Budget: Here, you will specify your budget and include any details about payment. The budget should also be included at the top with the project overview.
  9. Proposal requirements: In this section, you should clearly outline what responding agencies should include in their responses. This will help you receive more standardized responses.
  10. RFP Deadline and Project Timeline: Finally, you will again note the deadline for submitting an RFP. You should also specify when you would like the new website to be launched (which should be a realistic date and may need to be revised if your desired start date isn’t possible).

Remember: spending time thinking about your goals before you begin to write your RFP will be a tremendous help. You should also dig into your current website to get honest about what isn’t working with it - such as being difficult to navigate, out of date technically, or not getting enough traffic. During these brainstorming sessions, your team should also think hard about core functionality requirements and how that differs from “wish list” items.

Finally,including a budget may seem strange - as though you might not get a “deal” by stating upfront what you’re willing to spend. You might also be uncertain as to what a budget for this type of project even is! Giving a ballpark range is a good way to ensure that you get proposals that meet your needs. For example, if your budget is $50,000, you won’t get proposals that include $100,000 worth of work - which would waste both your and the vendor’s time!

Download Our Free Website Design RFP Template

Over the years, Inclind has reviewed many website RFPs as both a website vendor and a website development consultant. We’ve used our experience to create a free template that can easily be reworked and applied to any business in any industry. You can view the template and download it using the link below. 

Download Our Free RFP Template

How Inclind Can Help

If you’re in the market for a new or updated website, an RFP can be a good way to get bids and proposals on the work. You can also set up meetings with website design and development firms to talk more informally about your goals and what they can help you achieve. For both options, you should spend some time thinking about what you hope to accomplish with a new website before getting started.

Inclind provides web development and design services to healthcare organizations, companies, government agencies, nonprofits, and membership organizations. We work with our clients to (1) understand their needs, (2) figure out a budget, and (3) design and build a highly effective website. Our services include everything from initial website design to site redesigns, technical SEO, and conversion optimization.

We're available if you’d like to learn more about our website design and development services. You can fill out our online contact form and we’ll get an opportunity lined up to talk with our experts about your website.

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