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Writing a Request For Proposal For Web Site Design and Development
A company seeking to obtain bids from multiple qualified vendors for a Web site design or web development project will typically write a Request for Proposal (RFP) and either post it online or send it directly to potential vendors that it has identified.
As with any complex project, a website design project requires clear communication between the client and the web developer so that the client receives accurate quotes. The RFP serves as a baseline of project requirements upon which competing vendors can price their services. I’ve outlined a few items below that should typically be in a Website Design and Development Request for Proposal, although sometimes more information is needed.
Write your request for proposal
The Request for Proposal (RFP) process allows potential vendors to get an idea of your goals, existing challenges, and possible limitations without lengthy phone conversations or in-person meetings that can severely impact the amount of time you spend it takes for you to start with yours. Web Project Design and Development. It allows you to succinctly describe what you are looking for and what a potential seller should expect in the project.
An ideal RFP will clearly specify all requirements relevant to your website. It would allow the developer to submit a proposal based on your particular needs and, needless to say, the more detailed your RFP contains, the more accurate a proposal the developer is able to present.
Components of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a Website Design and Development Project:
- Brief overview of your organization, including some history and your primary business objectives.
- Detailed description of the project for which you want to receive the proposal.
- If your budget requirements are tight, it might help to include a “Ballpark” Budget – which developers can use to explore and scale your solution and save time.
- Target launch date and required delivery dates – include all the dates you need the project to meet. Are there crucial meetings and cut-off dates that the developer should be aware of? If you are not sure what the time frame should be, it is good to see what the proposals you receive recommend and renegotiate. It is also good to anticipate and state how flexible you are with the end date of the project.
Marketing and Data Requirements
- Audience demographics – who will be the main users of your site? Are there different audiences that need to be addressed?
- User comfort level with technology – how technically savvy is your audience? Will they know how to deal with plug-ins, for example?
- Will users have high-speed connections, or will they be on modems a lot?
- Audience base – how big do you expect your user base to be?
Corporate Branding and Design Requirements
- Do you have corporate identity guidelines that must be followed, including fonts and colors and graphic treatments?
- What look and feel do you envision for the website? Include some adjectives to describe what your site should communicate.
- Provide examples of websites that relate to the RFP either because they have a similar feel to what you’re looking for, or even examples of what you don’t want.
- Will there be animated elements (ie Flash animations)? How much? How will they be used?
Technical and infrastructural requirements
- Web hosting considerations. Do you currently have a web host or are you looking for a new one to handle this project?
- Browser/Platform Considerations. In general, a website for consumers or general public should work similarly in all modern browsers and Operating Systems. If you are targeting a very specific audience, it is possible that your needs are different.
- Development platform requirements. Do you need an Open Source solution, are you open to a proprietary solution that is better suited to your exact needs, etc.
- Coding language requirements (eg ASP.NET, PHP, Java). Many times this depends on the type of Web hosting platform or any pre-existing software you may have.
- Are there any third-party applications you’d like to incorporate?
- Will there be forms on the site? If so, how many? How should it be treated? (e.g. emailed to recipients, stored in a database, etc.)
- Does the site need tools to manage content/information (eg, ability for staff to add content such as press releases or quarterly reports)?
- Will there be e-commerce on the site? If so, who will enter data on the products offered? How will transactions be handled?
- Are there other interactive features the site should have? What are they, and how do you think they work?
Search Engine Optimization
- Describe any currently defined search engine friendly production requirements and expectations
- Please indicate if you are looking for SEO/SEM consulting services
Ongoing site maintenance plans
- How often will the site be updated? Looking for a retainer situation, or an ‘on-demand’ hourly job?
- Will you be self-maintained or will you outsource maintenance services?
- Who will be the main point of contact for your staff? Keep in mind that in most cases it is easier to have a single point of contact at your organization and the company that designs and develops your website.
- How will the tasks be divided between you and the developer to complete the project?
- Is there a third party (subcontractors, etc.) that will also be involved in the project?
RFP Response Deadline and Contact Information
- When is the response to the RFP due?
- To whom should the reply be sent?
- Do you prefer email or paper copies, and if so, how many copies do you print?
- Is there a specific request number that must be referenced in the Proposal Document?
- What is the RFP review process? How long do you anticipate making your decision before the project can begin?
Some Additional Thoughts Before You Begin:
- For all the items listed above, be sure to clearly indicate whether you should have any item(s) offered as an optional aspect of the project. Keep in mind the possible dependencies between aspects/components of the project that may make this impractical.
- Before writing your Request for Proposal, determine your budget for the project and, in addition, your priorities to select a Developer who can meet your budget needs.
Writing an RFP is a good exercise for anyone considering a website design or redesign since it takes thoughtful planning to specify and build a website. A well-thought-out quality RFP is essential to a successful effort because it helps you focus on your goals and exactly how to achieve them.
Good luck with your website design and development project.
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