BACK Firm Culture — March 16, 2019

A Great Website Redesign RFP Yields Even Better Results

For CMO's, Business Owners, and Executives, an RFP (Request for Proposal) is your handy tool that can define your job or even year in business. A well written and structured RFP and you're chances of finding a superb partner for your project skyrocket. A poorly crafter RFP, and you're in a world of hurt. When it comes to a website redesign RFP, look no further than our step by step approach for an RFP that will shine.

It’s time to put together a new website design for your company. Spirits are high, ideas are plentiful, and the marketing department is hyped for a new website. After all, its the most front facing and recognizable marketing piece you will have put out in years. As the dust settles, you are probably beginning to realize that finding the right website design agency to partner with is going to be a crucial step in completing this mammoth task.

Scouring through your list of resources, one item that is perhaps missing, or at least its outdated, is a buttoned up RFP for web design you can send out to agencies.

Step One: RFP Cover Letter

Don’t just dive right into the purpose of the website redesign RFP. Establish a ‘hook’ for the invited website redesign agency, an enticing opening paragraph as to why they should read on. Think of the opening of your RFP cover letter as ‘brag book’ about your company, your department, and your unique approach to the business world. This RFP website redesign cover letter gives marketing agencies the proper context around who you are before reading about the project and services you are seeking.

Step Two: RFP Company Background

People enjoy supporting others with whom they feel a connection, and sharing your company’s personal story is a step toward establishing a relationship. In your company description, talk about why the business was started, the history behind it, and the people who have been influential along the way. Any data or statistics you can tout to show why people should buy or work with you is great validation that should be included in your company description.

” talk about why the business was started, the history behind it, and the people who have been influential along the way.”

Step Three: Project Goals

Ask your team the following questions:

  1. What are the three most important things that, if done well, will make the redesign a success in your eyes?
  2. Whom do you plan to serve with the website?
  3. How will you measure success of the project? The aesthetics from day one, the newsletter sign ups in month six, the customer feedback by month twelve?
  4. What makes your firm unique? What’s you value-proposition? Hit on this throughout this section to reiterate to the website design agency that you are focused on your values.

Step Four: Sitemap

Many RFP’s mistakenly offer a very strict sitemap for the website design respondents which we find to be a BIG MISTAKE. Much like a real estate developer doesnt specify every single nook and cranny of a property and allows an architect to put their professional stamp on it,  a qualified website design agency deserve the same opportunity to put their unique spin on the project.

Rather than define the sitemap, we suggest you utilize the sitemap section of your RFP as an interview question with each website redesign RFP agency. In this section we suggest you simply put “Anticipated number of pages to be:” and utilize a tight range of pages.

Step Five: RFP Scope Of Work

If this is your first website redesign RFP, we strongly suggest, at the very least, ensuring all items are unique and created for your company. We suggest you outline the following as best as possible:

  • Internal project management
  • Content strategy/goals
  • Copywriting
  • Illustration
  • Information design
  • Visual design
  • Mobile optimization
  • Social media strategy
  • Search engine optimization
  • Front-end coding (HTML/CSS, animations)
  • Back-end coding (CMS, 3rd party APIs, custom software/features)
  • Ongoing support
  • Custom software or app development
  • Mobile device optimization
  • Testing & quality assurance
  • Paid search placement/advertising
  • Software training

Step Six: Deliverable Timeline(s)

Set the end date and work backwards. Allow the RFP redesign agency to put together a feasable timeline from the end point of final completion. Each agency operates differently and their timelines may vary; however, this end date will ensure all are compared apples to apples.

It is strongly suggested you utilize a “Damages” clause for any projects that go over the expected completion date (day, week, or monthly damages). Be careful here and consult your general counsel, you want to be sure it is fair and allows for unforeseen conditions or communication problems.

Step Seven: Specialized Requirements

This is a general section to throw in any items that are unique to your firm. We recommend leaving many items with an “as equals” clause so you enable feedback and recommendations from the website design agency. Some examples to define include:

  • Mobile optimization: More people are finding businesses on mobile than any other form of web browsing.
  • Tablet optimization: For B2B companies, over 60% of executives report exploring other businesses’ after hours on their tablet. This can be a crucial section to ensure your website is optimized and responsive on this medium.
  • Web Host: Does your organization have one the vendor must use? If not, can the vendor select or suggest one? Web agencies almost always have a preferred web host.
  • Integrations: Does your organization depend on 3rd party services for things like email newsletters, marketing automation, CRM / contact management, inventory control, intranet, accounting / Quickbooks, or inventory management? If so, be sure to include the ones for which synching / integration with the website is essential and describe how you expect it to work. For example, when someone subscribes to a newsletter, the contact should be added automatically to Highrise or Salesforce. If someone purchases a product and opts in, she should be added to our Mailchimp database, etc. Sometimes this functionality will be included out of the box and sometimes well have to write something custom.
  • User Accounts: Do you require membership management on your site? This would be for allowing people to access special or hidden content on your site, perhaps after submitting an email address or paying to view a whitepaper. A simpler example would be password-protected pages that anyone can see with the same password and does not require a logged in account.
  • Accessibility: Do you require the website to be accessible to blind or limited-vision users? For websites whose audience skews older, larger default text and click areas will inform the design. Government & public sites often require Section 508 compliance.

Step Eight: Criteria For Selection

First word of advice, leave this section somewhat broad. When you attract top notch website redesign agencies, they will most likely blow you away with their in depth RFP response and ideas about your project. A few things you should ask for:

  • Team Creative Leader resume
  • Examples of similarly-complex projects
  • Client references and whether email or phone is better
  • Project timeline with major tasks and milestones
  • Project budget by line item
  • Plan for mobile / responsive design

Step Nine: Budget And Point Of Contact

An anticipated budget is always great to define on the front end of any website project RFP. Design services, creative leaders, and programmers are all expensiver trades and a reputable website redesign agency will crunch the numbers and offer the best service for the proposed budget. Remember, a website is perhaps one of your most valuable assets these days, so bug your boss, the board of directors, and/or CFO to allocated a substantial budget to attract the best talent.

Step Ten: Identify Website Design Agencies To Send RFP

When you are planning to spend $10k or more on your website, it makes sense to contract with a website redesign agency rather than a one or two person contractor. Take time to look around at the type of agency you want, whether it be ultra-modern and cutting edge or old-school corporate and plain. Send the RFP to 5-7 firms and manage them like you would a client, ask if they are interested in responding, if they will be supplying a response by the due date, and let them know you are a personal connection for any questions.

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