If you don’t have the in-house capabilities to design an effective site for your business, you likely need to seek out a designer. Part of that process is developing a proposal for what you’d like to include on your business website. Creating a request for proposal (RFP) for a website project can help your business not only find the right website partner but also better understand your project requirements. 

While there are lots of website agencies and freelance designers on the market, the truth is that reputable web agencies receive RFPs all the time. Most will likely ignore your request if the project scope seems disorganized. 

To help you avoid these pitfalls, follow these tips to write a well-organized website design RFP and set your project up for success.  

What is a website design RFP? 

A website design request for proposal (RFP) is a concise document that outlines your business’ goals and scope for the new website. There are a couple of reasons that you may prepare an RFP.

If you don’t have the in-house resources to create a professional site, you’ll want to look for a talented web design team for assistance. 

A request for proposal can also be helpful if your business will need a more complex website that involves eCommerce or membership functionality. 

Website designers don’t require an RFP to prepare a proposal. However, it can help your business make sure the selected web partner can meet all of your expectations. 

5 key components of a website design RFP 

While the details in every RFP will depend on the needs of the business, here are five key components you should consider including.

1. Company background 

Start your RFP with a brief overview of your business and current products or services. Keep this section succinct, and tailor the information to what is relevant to the website project. 

If you have an existing website, share what role the site currently plays in your business in terms of marketing, recruitment, and branding. 

If lead generation is a key goal for the new website, you may want to share any marketing that you are doing right now and how your team acquires new clients. 

Share some details about your ideal clients or audience if you have a clear understanding of your target market. Most web agencies will spend a lot of time understanding the different website visitor types in order to create a relevant and effective site. 

Lastly, describe who will be involved in the website project on your team. It’s best to keep this internal website team to 3-4 people maximum. More confusion and disagreements can occur with a larger internal team. 

2. Project goals and objectives 

The process of creating an RFP is a good exercise for every business.  It allows you to take a step back and assess your current website situation and what “success” looks like for the project. 

In order to prepare this section of the RFP, you’ll need to discuss the project goals with the stakeholders at your business. 

There are some common reasons to create a new website or redesign your existing site. If you are a startup and looking to kickstart your online presence, your goal may be to build a professional site that can attract investors and grow your business

For established businesses, lead generation could be a major focus for the new site. If that is the case for your business, you will want to select a web partner who understands conversion optimization and digital marketing. 

A growing business may also need a website to support recruitment and cater to new employees with a strong career page and job listings. 

If you are redesigning an existing site, you may have certain challenges with your current site. Make sure to include these in the RFP as well and discuss them further with the website team. For instance, the site design may not adequately represent the brand and may be outdated.

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3. Design and development requirements 

Creating an RFP can also help you gather more accurate website quotes because you are providing clear guidelines on the scope. In this section of the RFP, you’ll want to outline your design needs and functionality requirements for the new site. 

One important consideration is whether your business will be rebranding and if you’ll need assistance with a new logo and branding guidelines. Consider including a few inspiration sites or competitor sites because most web agencies will request these early on in the project. 

The functionality requirements for the site will have a bigger impact on the overall cost and development work involved in the project. 

For an informational site, you’ll want to include any details about integrations with internal systems like CRMs and email marketing platforms, job board integrations for career pages, or unique features. A password-protected or employee portal on the site would also be considered a more complex request. 

If you are looking for an eCommerce site or membership site, you’ll need to provide as much detail as possible on the functionality requirements. 

In this section of the RFP, you should also state whether you are looking to build the site on a specific website platform like WordPress or utilize a specific eCommerce system like WooCommerce or Shopify

4. Budget and timeline

The budget and timeline section is the most important part of the RFP.

Keep in mind that web agencies and freelance designers will evaluate the budget and timeline requirements first in the RFP. This means if your budget or timeline are limited or unreasonable, you may quickly filter out the opportunity to work with some web partners. 

Having a solid grasp of your budget is critical. Is your budget flexible or not? If it is flexible, provide a price range in the RFP and explain that you are open to discussion. The cost of a new website depends on the design and development requirements, so you should always have as tight a scope as possible for the project.

Not sure what is reasonable for the market? Present some flexibility and discuss your requirements with your top selected agencies to see what is reasonable. 

As an industry standard, most web projects take between 2 to 3 months. Rushing the timeline on the project may mean the web designer will cut corners on quality and customization.

When communicating the timeline, provide any details on major business milestones coming up that may affect the launch of the site, such as a digital marketing campaign or product launch. 

5. Selection criteria 

The selection criteria of the RFP is typically the final section of the document where you outline any deadlines for the RFP response and request any additional items. 

If you are spearheading a web project for your business, discuss the decision-making process with the other stakeholders. Knowing this ahead of time will reduce any wasted time in phone calls and proposals from agencies that will not meet the main criteria. 

Provide a deadline to respond to the RFP and the anticipated start date. This will help you meet the project timeline that you’ve outlined, and it also conveys that your business is serious about the project. 

In this section of the RFP, request any additional information that you’d like to see beyond a proposal, such as past design work or references from past clients. If you are looking for a website agency with a lot of B2B website design experience, then you’ll want to request examples of their work on B2B sites. You can do the same approach if you are searching for a designer who specializes in B2C or eCommerce sites.

Lastly, add any miscellaneous add-ons that you’d like to see in the website design proposal. For example, you want to see the cost of hosting and maintenance in the pricing of the project. 

Your RFP should build to a collaboration

Most web design companies will do a phone call with you, after receiving an RFP and before preparing a proposal, especially if there are any gaps in the project scope. 

It may be tempting to send your RFP to endless designers and web agencies, but keep in mind that the project is a collaboration. You’ll receive better responses though by sending the final RFP to your top 3-4 web design companies as a starting point. 

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AvatarMikel Bruce

Mikel Bruce is the CEO of TinyFrog Technologies, a San Diego web design agency specializing in WordPress web design & development and secured hosting & maintenance. Founded in 2003, TinyFrog Technologies offers a conversion-based approach to web design and has built over 1,100 websites.