How to Create a Web Design RFP That Ensures a Successful Project

Finding the right company to design your website is always a challenge. Many web design companies are better at advertising than actually designing great websites. It’s easier to write persuasive copy than it is to deliver and create an outstanding product.

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You want a website that meets your particular needs, not a cookie-cutter site or one that’s glitchy or unattractive. There’s one strategy that virtually guarantees that you find the right designer, one who will create a customized and exceptional website for you. The secret is to write a comprehensive RFP (request for proposal). This will immediately separate the qualified from the unqualified prospects on your list.

Let’s look at how you can do this in a way that filters out the low-quality and mediocre candidates and leaves you with the cream of the crop.

How an RFP Helps You Find the Best Web Designer

An RFP is a request that demands a professional and customized response. It tells prospects that you’re not looking for a generic or mediocre website. It challenges a company to prove to you that they have what it takes to create something that meets or exceeds your expectations. Here are some of the reasons that it’s essential to create an RFP when you want a great website.

  • Helps you clarify your needs. An RFP forces you to sit down with your team (or on your own, if you’re working solo) and figure out exactly what kind of website you want. This is a valuable process in itself, in addition to helping you find the right designer.
  • It disqualifies designers who create generic or poor quality websites. Most companies you’d prefer to avoid won’t even respond to your RFP. They don’t want to bother with a detailed proposal as it’s too much trouble and shows them that you’re too demanding for their skill set. This is great for you as it lets you disqualify such candidates right off the bat.
  • You get specific answers rather than generic sales pitches. Many web design companies have slick copywriters or sales people who can tell you all the virtues of their websites. However, none of this ensures that they can create a website that’s perfect for you. An RFP demands attention to your specific concerns.
  • Helps you get an accurate estimate. It’s a mistake to buy a website package from a company or freelancer without a detailed proposal or relying on a proposal they create. In such cases, you don’t always know what you’re getting. There’s often a disconnect between what you expect and what they deliver. Either that or the price is higher than you expected. The designer says something like, “If I’d known you wanted Feature X, I’d have told you that it would cost you $500 more.” An RFP creates clear communication and removes ambiguity about what you want.

What to Include in Your RFP For Your Web Design Agency

Now that you understand the importance of sending out an RFP, let’s look at how to put together one that helps you find the perfect web designer. Here’s what to put in your RFP:

  • A detailed description of your company. This includes the size of your business, the area you serve (if it’s a physical business), your products and industry, and the demographics of your customers.
  • The purpose of your website. Describe how your website fits into your overall marketing plan. What is its main function? For example, do you sell products directly (as with an e-commerce site/online store), is it a lead generating tool to build an email list or a branding tool to increase awareness? If you already have a website, discuss the problems or limitations that you want to overcome with the new site.
  • Essential features of the website. It’s crucial to specify everything you want and need. Specify the size of the website (approximate number of pages), design requirements, and the type of style and layout you require. This, of course, relates to your audience. A website for a financial institution, a pet supply company, a craft beer company, and a company that sells clothing all need a different approach. You also want to include specific technical needs such as your CMS (e.g. WordPress or Drupal), security needs, hosting, analytics, and any other specifications. There’s also the question of what kind of content you’re placing on your website such as articles, videos, images, blog posts, opt-in pages, or anything else. Be sure to list any essential features.
  • Request details about the web design company. In addition to telling them about your needs, it’s important to interview the vendor as well. Don’t hesitate to ask for detailed information about their designing websites in your industry. Request links to their work and references. Ask who will be working on your website and their qualifications and experience.
  • Cost and time frame. Naturally, you want to know the cost of the project and how long it’s going to take. Give them your deadline for completing the project. State your budget for the project. These factors disqualify companies that can’t meet your needs in these areas so think carefully before writing down these numbers.
  • Contract and details for further communication. Give vendors a deadline to respond to your RFP. Advise them how they can contact you with questions. Clarify your decision-making and interview process. Include a project contract.

What Are My Next Steps?

We would love to hear from your company. Choosing the right designer for your website requires a great deal of research and communication with potential candidates. Too many businesses choose a web designer based on sales copy and don’t have an effective process for qualifying vendors. An RFP is a powerful tool that puts you in charge. When you send out an RFP, it’s up to the web design companies to convince you why they’re the best candidates for the job. They’re compelled to respond to your specific concerns and can’t fall back on hype or generalities.  Putting together a detailed RFP takes some time, but it’s worth the effort as it’s the best way to find the right web designer for your project.

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