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    All You Need to Know About Writing a Website Design RFP

    By Roger Banks

    If you want your new website to have the desired effect, it is important that you work with a reliable web design agency. Making the right selection might seem like a daunting task, not only because of the money you plan to invest, but also because of the basic groundwork that the process requires. The best place to start, without a doubt, is to come up with a good website design and development RFP.


    The website design RFP you put together does not have to be complex. However, getting all the required information may help you avoid unnecessary problems in the long run. Remember at every stage of writing an RFP that it will give you the means to find the best web design agency according to your specific requirements.

    web design rfp


    What is an RFP?

    A request for proposal (RFP) does not limit to the world of web design and development. An RFP is a document that any organization may post to elicit responses in the form of formal proposals or bids from potential service providers. An RFP comes with specifications of what a business requires, and it also sheds light on criteria that the business might use to assess different vendors.


    A typical RFP for website design and development provides information about the online requirements a business might have, be it increasing traffic or boosting online sales. If vendors need to follow a bidding process, the RFP provides relevant information. It also gives potential vendors an indication of the format that their proposals should follow. Once the proposals are in place, the business may choose a vendor based on factors such as reputation, expertise, and feasibility.


    Why Should You Create a Website Design RFP?

    Contacting multiple web design companies and sharing the same information over and over again is typically time-consuming and tedious. A web design RFP gives you the ability to simplify and streamline the process. By creating an RFP, you may shed light on your goals, describe all the features and functionalities you seek, and highlight the criteria for the selection process.


    From a web design agency’s perspective, an RFP gives it the ability to understand just what a project entails, and thereby, arrive at a more accurate quote. By looking at what you need, an agency may then offer insight into its background, capabilities, and expertise.


    Besides, an RFP also gives you the ability to compare all possible contenders based on the parameters you set.


    The Importance of Good Web Design RFPs

    Clearly defining a project’s requirements and laying down what’s expected gives web design agencies and their clients the means to determine how they might be able to work together. A well-written web design RFP not only indicates what you want your new website to accomplish, it also helps the agency you select to align its efforts with your objectives and goals.


    With a website RFP sent to multiple service providers, you may benefit from the different perspectives that come your way. You may also get to look at the different technologies in use as well as possible configurations that might help boost your business’ overall online presence.

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    If your website design RFP is not up to the mark, you stand to lose out on the web design agency that might work best for you. This is because an RFP that is vague or does not mention specific requirements might not elicit desired proposals from potential agencies. Restrictive or overall detailed requirements, on the other hand, may also have a similar effect.


    What Makes a Good RFP?

    It is not uncommon for agencies to ignore website design RFPs or not respond to them, especially if they don’t get a clear picture of the road ahead. When creating an RFP for website design and development, bear in mind that the process requires more than just asking questions. You need to communicate clearly, providing useful information about who you are and your business. This gives an agency the ability to decide if it wants to take the business relationship further.


    Remember that it’s not just you who is selecting a service provider; you are also hoping that the one you pick agrees to work with you. What you don’t want is to lose out on a great agency simply because it feels that you are not an ideal fit based on the web design RFP you provided.


    Good Web Design RFPs are Structured

    If you are wondering what to include in an RFP, take some time to go through some good website RFP samples. Once you do, you will realize that while the elements might vary slightly, they are always structured. As a result, they are easy to comprehend. Elements that go into a well-written and structured RFP include:

    • Overview of the business
    • Overview of the project
    • Your target demographic
    • Your goals
    • Details about your existing website
    • Objectives of your new website
    • Requirements for your new website
    • Sitemap
    • Budgetary details
    • Ongoing support
    • RFP and project timelines
    • Questions
    • Criteria for selection


    Who Needs a Web Design RFP?

    You might think about coming up with a website design RFP if you are considering redesigning your existing website or planning to get a new one. This is the case even if you already have a preferred web design agency in mind, not only because it’s a part of exercising due diligence, but also because the comparison might lead to a better alternative. Least of all, you’ll get a good understanding of what’s currently on offer and at what price.


    RFPs help attract the attention of reputable web design agencies because they indicate you’re serious about your plans and have already set some kind of a roadmap in place. RFPs give you the means to get in-depth and highly specific information about different agencies, which helps simplify the comparison process. In addition, the proposals you receive through your RFP let you determine the feasibility of your desired website design/redesign project when it comes to budget and scope.


    Who Does Not Need One?

    If you have a limited budget and are not looking at hiring the best in the business, you might have no need for a website design RFP. Businesses that need to iron out operational problems before launching their websites may consider waiting until they address all the issues at hand. Other scenarios in which there’s no real need for an RFP include:

    • There’s nobody on your team who will provide feedback and approve the final content
    • There’s nobody on your team who can manage or run the website after its launch
    • You cannot spare a dedicated project manager
    • You’re on a tight schedule
    • You have legacy systems that have trouble integrating with new web technologies

    website development rfp


    The Process of Creating a Web Design Request for Proposal

    The approach you need to follow when creating an RFP should be along the lines of creating an external presentation or report. This calls for the involvement of all stakeholders. The team should ideally come up with multiple drafts and review them while paying due attention to all inputs. Determining just what every department needs from the new website is also crucial at this stage. In addition, while your RFP should be structured and organized, there’s no need for it to be extremely formal.


    There are three basic stages of creating a great website design RFP.

    • This is where you take time to get business insight. Aspects that need your particular attention include how your business benefits from its existing website, the amount of money it makes for your business, possible areas of improvement, requirements of various departments, your budget for the project, and a realistic timeline.
    • This stage requires determining the functionalities you’re after and who will be involved in the project pre- and post-launch, as well as looking at all that you need to do before selecting an agency.
    • Once you have all the required information at hand, you begin writing your web design RFP. This requires that you include all applicable information through multiple sections by following a streamlined structure.


    Elements/Structure of a Website Development RFP

    All the good RFP examples for website design have one thing in common. They are well structured. Once you have a well-defined structure in place, the next step is to build on it based on your specific requirements. The website RFP you create should stand out from the clutter by being focused and straightforward. The intricacy that goes into writing a great website design and development RFP is essentially up to you. However, the basic elements remain the same.


    Overview of the Business

    Start your website RFP by providing a concise history of your business. Give potential agencies an indication of the role you play in your business, your business offerings, the industry your business belongs to, and your typical customer or target demographic. As all good marketing RFP examples show, this aspect is crucial because it gives agencies insight into your business and its operation, helping them decide if might work as a good fit.


    Consider this example. “We, at Vista Magnifique Resort, have offered exemplary high-end hospitality services for close to five decades. While our guests come from various countries, a majority are from Europe. In my current role, I oversee the resort’s marketing requirements.”


    Overview of the Project

    The second section of your website design RFP should give agencies all the important information they need to make a decision about whether or not to work on the project. It should indicate why you are submitting the RFP. It should also tell potential agencies what you expect from them in a clear and concise manner. If this part of your RFP is left wanting, there is a good chance that people reading it will stop right here.

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    Your Target Demographic

    This section requires that you describe the audience you wish to target through your new website. Web designers and developers find this information very useful because it helps them determine which path to take when it comes to aesthetics, functionality, and user experience. Demographics may comprise information as basic as age, gender, income, and region, or also include more intricate details in the form of preferences, lifestyle choices, and purchase habits.


    Your Goals

    No matter whether you are writing a web design RFP or a web redesign RFP, be very clear about the challenges that you or your target audience face. Determine just what you wish to achieve through your new website. Recognizing existing problems is a great place to start. Being clear about your goals gives agencies the ability to understand what you plan to accomplish overall.


    For example, it’s important to establish what you might regard as a conversion at the very onset. This could be making a purchase, joining a mailing list, completing a form, following your brand on social media, or performing any other action. With this information at hand, web design agencies may come up with strategies to achieve your conversion-related goals.


    Details About Your Existing Website

    This applies if you have an existing website that does little to boost business. Do not hesitate to point out any perceived shortcomings in your website. Mention why you feel your existing website is not working. For instance, a resort might view the inability of guests to make online bookings as a major drawback. Ask yourself if the information on your website is quick and easy to find. Here are some more questions you need to ask yourself.

    • Does your website get enough leads but they do not convert to customers?
    • Does it work well across different kinds of devices or do you need a custom web application?
    • What aspects of your existing website do you like and dislike?
    • What do you feel about your overall online presence?
    • Do you see any roadblocks in achieving online success?


    Once you provide this information, you give web design agencies the means to get as accurate a picture of your online presence as possible. Then, they may determine if it makes sense to optimize your existing website’s functionality or go for a complete overhaul.


    Objectives of Your New Website

    If you have an existing website with shortcomings, you should have a fair idea of what you want your new website to achieve. If not, you still need to determine what you want from your new website. For example, do you want to attract more leads? Do you want to increase your users’ on-page time? Are you looking at incorporating a shopping cart? Do you need your new website to come with a responsive design? Once you have your objectives set out, you may move to consider what it takes to get there.


    Requirements for Your New Website

    This section serves as the core of your website RFP. It gives agencies the means to determine how much the project might cost. Make a list of all the services and functionalities you want, while distinguishing the mandatory from the optional. Examples include project management, UX/UI planning and testing, responsive web design, e-commerce website development, content strategy, keyword analysis, content creation, on-site SEO, brand positioning, and online marketing.


    Other aspects that require your attention include, but do not limit to:

    • The need to develop a brand identity
    • The website’s architecture (the sections you need and their organization)
    • The need for a blog
    • Customer relationship management (CRM) integration
    • Lead generation
    • Email marketing integration
    • Integration of analytics
    • Live support
    • Website security
    • Maintenance and hosting


    This is typically the longest section in an RFP for website design and maintenance, given that there is an array of variables that may have an effect on the final outcome. If you mention your requirements in detail, agencies find it easy to arrive at estimates. In addition, while some agencies might specialize in particular technologies such as WordPress and web application development, others may not.

    web development rfp

    Examples of Websites

    When you provide examples of websites you would like your new website to emulate, you give a web design agency an indication of what you have in mind. You may even share links to specific pages of different websites. For example, you may share the “Homepage” of one website, an “About Us” section of a second, and the “Contact Us” page of a third. Ideally, you should try to provide around five or more examples that highlight the features and aesthetics you’re after. Adding two to three websites of competitors is also ideal, as this gives agencies insight into your industry.



    How your website is organized plays a crucial role in how users find the information they need, and a sitemap      can simplify the process considerably. If your users cannot find the information they are looking for quickly, the negative user experience that follows may result in their leaving your website. A sitemap basically works as a table of content. Determine how many pages your new website needs, although this is an aspect web design agencies can address effectively. Other than the homepage, your website may have other pages such as:

    • Services
    • Blog
    • About
    • Contact


    Budgetary Details

    Whether you are writing a website design or website development RFP, make sure you include your budget. Once an agency sees that you have a predetermined budget in mind, it knows that you are serious about using its services. Besides, an agency can provide solutions depending on your objectives and the scope of the project while keeping your budget in mind. If you are looking at ongoing maintenance and support, allocate a budget for it separately. If you do not have a conclusive figure, at least provide a range.


    Ongoing Support

    What happens once your website is launched? It is common practice to engage the same agency that creates a website for ongoing development, support, and in some cases, even training. With the launch of your website being no more than a starting point, you need to consider how to attract traffic as well as add new features or fix bugs. If your project requires post-launch advertising and marketing, limit sending your RFP to full-service web agencies.


    RFP and Project Timelines

    An RFP for website design and maintenance should provide agencies with clear timelines. For starters, mention how quickly you need the proposal. If you want your website to go live by a specific date, make sure you include it in your RFP. You might also want to include milestones surrounding events such as the launch of a new product or an advertising campaign.


    Bear in mind that web design and development requires addressing multiple factors and tends to take time. As a result, set realistic deadlines. This gives potential agencies the ability to determine if they can complete your project within the stipulated timeframe.


    Some of the important dates you might want to set in advance include:

    • Your RFP’s release date
    • Deadline for receiving responses
    • Deadline for making a selection
    • Project’s commencement date
    • Website’s launch date


    Bear in mind that creating a custom website from scratch may take 10 to 15 weeks, and the process takes even longer when it comes to eCommerce websites. Consequently, if you’re looking for an agency that can complete your project in a month or less, your RFP might not find any meritorious takers.



    As you work your way through your web design RFP, it is normal to come up with various questions. Instead of asking them in different places, keep all the questions restricted to this section. This gives agencies easy means to answer all your questions effectively without having to scout the document over and over. If you are unsure about how to meet your objectives, don’t hesitate to ask. Asking for recommendations can go a long way too.

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    Criteria for Selection

    Include the criteria you plan to use to make your selection in your website design and development RFP because agencies can then decide whether or not you may benefit by using their services. Some of the aspects you might want to consider include expertise, portfolios, capabilities, and history of working on comparable projects.


    Instructions for Submissions

    Including instructions for submissions helps web design agencies determine what information they need to include in their proposals. Besides, it also highlights the process they need to follow. Some of the information you should seek through your website design RFP include:

    • The agency’s name, contact details, and website
    • The number of years it has been in business
    • Names of their top clients and duration of association
    • References (four to five)
    • Links to websites or case studies of top projects
    • Links to websites or case studies of relevant projects
    • Details of the team that will work on your project (team size, roles, and responsibilities)
    • Details of sub-contractors, if required
    • End-to-end overview of the build process
    • Overall approach toward managing the project


    Sending/Issuing Your RFP

    Once you create your web design RFP, the next step is to get it out there so it may capture as many eyeballs as possible. This is because, as per a Bonfire report, an RFP gets an average of just four responses. Fortunately, it’s easy to attract the right type of attention by following a few simple steps.

    • Publish it on your website. If you have an existing website, you may think about creating a landing page that serves as a reference point for web design agencies. While you may include vital details about your project on this page, you may offer the complete RFP in the form of a downloadable document.
    • Use a third-party service provider. You may upload your RFP on RFP Database, an online platform that facilities RFP announcements and bid matching. You may also consider using Clutch, a website that is great for finding web design agencies based on reviews, market presence, and industry recognition. Then, you may send your RFP to the selected agencies on your own. Folyo, on the other hand, sends your web design RFPs to scores of agencies on your behalf, for free.
    • Turn to Google. Web design agencies that show up on the first page of results when you carry out a search on Google obviously know what it takes to rank well. If you want your new website to attract organic traffic, this is a very important aspect. Agencies that rank well on Google demonstrate that they know how to stay on top of the search engine optimization (SEO)
    • Share it on social media. Posting a link to your RFP on your Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn accounts might increase its online visibility. If you take this path, use hashtags related to web design, such as #webdesign and #websitedesign. If you share your RFP’s details on social media, provide information in a clear and concise manner, giving potential agencies easy means to learn more about your project.
    • Seek recommendations. Ask other business owners or managers about their experiences with different digital agencies to look for probable alternatives. If you come across any positive feedback, you may send your RFP to the agency/agencies in question.


    Given the importance of creating and maintaining a strong online presence, it’s important that you select a web design agency that impresses you from the word go. If you really like any particular website, checking its footer might work well for you, because the agency responsible for designing it often finds a mention here. If you have even the slightest hesitation about working with an agency, it’s best that you move to your next option. If you’re sending your RFP on your own, aim to send it to around four to five agencies.



    Web design and web development RFPs are not difficult to write, provided you know what aspects to consider. While using a website design RFP template might work as a good starting point, what should go in it should take into account your specific requirements. Make sure you keep your RFP to the point, although it should clearly communicate what you’re after. If you manage to create a great RFP, you may well expect proposals from the best web design agencies.

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