Our website redesign RFP guide will help you organize your project to better target digital agencies for your next project.
In the new Covid-19 world, every organization has come to appreciate the importance of their website. It’s not only your full-time ambassador, but for many visitors, it’s the first and only interaction with your brand. Highly effective websites convert visitors into followers, customers, generate more interest from search engines, and help administrators easily manage and update content.
Really effective websites aren’t created by chance, they’re the product of significant time and research that’s usually quarterbacked by an experienced digital agency helping translate the client’s needs.
So how do you kickstart your next website redesign project? Start with writing a request for proposals (RFP) that will help a digital agency quickly understand the goals for your project and provide you with a high-quality response.
What makes a good RFP? A well-written website redesign RFP should be able to summarize your challenges, requirements, scope, and budget. Addressing the elements outlined in our guide will help your team avoid unnecessary questions and save considerable time for everyone involved.
We have also created a free, customizable website RFP template that includes all the elements from this article. It’s available as a RFP template .DOC download.
Write a RFP that starts to solve your problem
One way to write a great RFP is to spend most of the request focusing on the problem. What do you need the vendor for? This is different from writing for ideas, although it’s similar. Some companies know what they need from their vendors—they’ve already identified the solution they want. But if you aren’t sure how to solve a particular issue, define that issue in as much detail as you can and let vendors solve it.
Attract companies that inspire you
If you’re shopping for a nice SUV you’re probably not going to visit a cheap used cars dealership that sells the same model cars in various colors. Before submitting your RFP to a digital agency, take a look at their website redesign portfolio and see if they have case studies that go into detail about the projects they’ve completed. Why do case studies matter? Unlike capability statements or bios, they help tell the whole story, give insight into the deliverables, and indicate the level of attention the project was given.
Write for Ideas, Not Tasks
While you certainly want to outline what you need from a vendor, some RFPs read like a checklist. Instead of over-defining what step-by-step features you need from vendors, state your overall goals. This gives vendors the chance to show you how creative they are. Giving them a checklist of tasks to complete may result in every proposal sounding very similar. Vendors may have their own unique and better way of accomplishing your goals.
Make a Proper Introduction
We’ve seen hundreds of RFPs. They usually arrive in two ways — a one line email with an attachment or outreach with a proper introduction, time to discuss the project by phone, and availability for follow up questions. As you may imagine, most digital agencies triage their website RPFs based on the likelihood of winning a particular project. For companies that don’t offer direct connections with potential vendors, there’s a good chance that they’ve cast a much wider net, hoping on just a percentage of respondents.
By making a proper introduction and reaching out to make a connection the chances of RFP responses go up dramatically.
How to Write a Website Redesign RFP?
Now that we’re clear on what a RFP needs (and doesn’t), as well as why you should spend a little extra time writing one, let’s review all the essential elements that will help improve your responses.
1. Project Introduction
Help introduce your project by providing an introduction to your organization and describe what your core objective for the project is. Describe briefly whether your organization is established, a start up or in a growth phase, it helps put your project in the proper context. This will help vendors quickly determine if the project requirements match their firm’s capabilities.
What do you need the vendor for? Define that issue in as much detail as you can and let vendors solve it. Also, describe your organization better ‘we have multiple teams that will want feedback’ or ‘we are unable to create content quickly.’ Make sure to outline that so you don’t end up surprising everyone at the most critical time — the start of the project.
3. Define your Visitors
Who is coming to the website? Why are they coming? By understanding the various audiences that are visiting your website, it will help the vendor provide valuable feedback on how your new website can more effectively communicate to those groups.
What are the goals you have for the project? List out as many realistic desired outcomes that you hope to achieve as a result of the new website. Whether it’s improving conversions on your website, lowering bounce rate, increasing brand awareness, growing your social media presence, or building a platform for future marketing efforts, the vendor needs to understand what you’re working toward.
5. Define Objectives
Objectives are specific and measurable outcomes that have a specific time frame. If you’re planning on hiring a digital agency to support ongoing marketing efforts, you’ll want to indicate what specific objectives the website will support. Examples include increasing revenue or donations by X% over the next year, boosting SEO, the appearance of keywords in Google search results by XX% over X months, running paid campaigns to generate more brand awareness, and so on.
6. Scope of Work
Website redesign projects tend to vary greatly in their scope. What are the specific services you are looking for in a digital agency? While some projects just need a website, others may also need branding, SEO (search engine optimization), or additional marketing services. We’ve identified a common Scope of Work:
7. Measure of Success
Ultimately your website redesign needs to be a successful project and establishing expectations can better align you and your future digital agency. How will you measure success? Some examples that support a healthy, growing web presence include: Did all teams and departments feel that they were listened to as stakeholders in the project? Did Google Analytics show more qualified website visitors coming to the website based on specific searches? Or does the website now have a lower bounce rate?
Not providing a budget is like trying to buy a home without telling your real estate agent what you’re willing to pay. You’ll get plenty of ideas and suggestions, but they’ll be all over the spectrum and it’s unlikely that you have an unlimited budget. Many digital agencies don’t even respond to website RFPs if no clear budget language is provided.
Example: We estimated the budget for our website redesign is between $75,000 and $120,000. Our annual recurring website maintenance and support is budgeted for $55,000.
Taking the time to realistically set some parameters will allow vendors to propose a scope of work that appropriately meets your needs. If you don’t, it sends a signal that either you don’t have a budget or the RFP is more of a fishing expedition. It also helps save time, especially if your project may not be within the minimum price range of the digital agency that you’ve contacted.
9. Existing Website Review
In our introductory calls to discuss an RFP, one of the first questions we ask is ‘what do you like and what do you not like about your existing website?’ It’s helpful to identify which content or strategies are working, what is going to be reused, and what new content or sections may be required on the new site. It also helps to identify what content management system your website is built on (if you don’t know use builtwith.com to find out), if the website has a login or CRM tool that’s integrated, and what additional third party services you’re currently using or looking to replace.
10. Evaluation Criteria
You’ll need criteria to inform the final selection for your digital agency. In the valuation phase you can review: previous relevant work, case studies, capabilities, years in business, cost, etc. For example one digital agency may be great at ecommerce but have very little expertise in developing nonprofit websites.
If you plan on scoring each website RFP uniformly, it may also help to define the process that will be used to weigh each selection criteria. You can add a chart such as the one below (also included in our free document download).
|Understanding of the Project||25%|
Being clear on what factors will impact your decision in the beginning of the process will help you find the right partner.
11. Submission Guidelines & Timeline
The submission guidelines and timeline of your RFP should detail major milestones and the date that your project needs to launch. Some submission guidelines to consider are:
- Written question and answer period
- Deadlines for proposals
- In-person or virtual proposal presentations
- Date winner will be selected
- Key contact for questions
It’s important to also explain if your launch is going to coincide with an advertising campaign, anniversary, or another effort or initiative. Website redesigns and development take time, so it’s important that you set the proper expectations. It may be the case that you have a specific date that requires a rush which could incur an additional cost and resources
Additional strategies to get the best possible RFP results
Interview your potential RFP partners
There is nothing better than interviewing the companies before you send out your requests for proposals. These one-on-one, pre-RFP questions and answer sessions will help you narrow the vendor field before you send out your final RFP. Success for your project isn’t predicated on the number of RFP replies you’ll receive, but rather on the quality of responses from two or three digital agencies.
While there isn’t a company exactly like yours, it’s helpful to identify competitors that exist and provide some details on each. For example, if you compete directly or indirectly with them and any additional notes that can be used during the review.
Example: Our company competes with Zoomtech, but all of our staff is based in the United States and we’ve won more awards over the last 20 years.
By understanding your competitive landscape, it will help the project bidders determine what creative, content, and conversion strategies will work for your specific needs.
Share marketing materials
You can learn a lot by sitting at a car dealership. They usually have a pamphlet explaining their services. The same goes for sharing existing marketing materials, powerpoints, videos, or documents that can shed light on your company and help you keep your RFP shorter. Really engaged companies will take the time to review your documents. Keep in mind that quality over quantity is a good approach here.
Popular RFP Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is an RFP always needed?
A. No, if you have a project that is smaller in scope or highly defined, it may be easier to just contact a digital agency directly for a quote.
Q. How many companies should I submit an RFP to?
A. Start by identifying the digital agencies you really want to work with. Setup a time to interview them and let them know how many companies will be involved in the process, this will help build engagement in the process. We’ve found that having two or three extremely engaged companies is better than a scattershot approach.
Q. What language should you avoid in your website redesign RFP?
A. Avoid marketing talk about your company. Afterall you’re not selling the project on your brand’s reputation. Beware of jargon or technical language that may not be clear to the proposal readers. Granted they’re in the digital world, but that may not translate well at times.
Q. What is a realistic timeframe for an RFP?
A. Depending on the complexity of your project you will want to provide at least two or three weeks notice before a RFP response needs to be submitted. This will give the digital agency enough time to allocate people and resources for the response.
Q. Should you consider budgets that are higher than the budget listed in your RFP?
A. Absolutely, as long as the vendors provide one option that’s within your original budget range. One of the benefits of soliciting responses from vendors is opening the floodgate of ideas. In the process, you may determine that investing more in your project may actually be more cost effective.
Q. Do you share questions and answers with all vendors?
A. Yes, if there is a general question and answer process you’ve put in place. If you prefer a more intimate and informal Q&A approach, you may want to provide information as the specific questions come in and not reward lazy companies that don’t do their homework.
Q. How do I let companies know they haven’t been selected?
A. Not getting selected for a project is always disappointing. Make it a real learning opportunity for the digital agency. Especially when organizations just ghost and require the companies bidding on the website redesign RFP to awkwardly reach out asking for updates. Let them know why their proposal wasn’t selected and what they specifically could have done better. Always be sure to thank them for their hard work and interest in your project.
Q. How detailed should my website RFP be?
A. We’ve come across numerous RFPs that have very specific formatting, appendices, and extra paperwork. This is usually a warning sign and may actually end up discouraging some vendors.
Q. Where do I find a website development RFP template?
A. Clutch provides verified independent reviews for projects that help you to identify vendors you may want to contact.
Where to post a website redesign RFP?
Once you have a great website redesign RFP, where can it be shared to reach your target audience? First, attract digital agencies that you want to work with by reaching out to them directly. If you want (or are required) to make your RFP process public, then you’ll want to announce your project in a few ways.
Shameless plug, at Alliance we would be happy to review your project. Just submit your website redesign RFP here or email us. We’ll make sure to get you valuable feedback and start a conversation.
Publish it on your website
There’s no better place than a specific place on your website that can outline some basic parts of the project. Ideally you’ll want to create a landing page that will allow them to ‘register’ – so you can provide them with alerts and any additional updates. A simple registration process can capture their email and help you maintain the active participants as some may invariably decline or be unable to meet your RFP requirements.
The RFP database relies on organizations to submit public RFPs and request for quotations (RFQs). It’s open to both commercial and government projects. To gain access to projects, users of the site must purchase ‘credits’ to view RFPs.
If you have a public sector/government RFP project, then make sure to also post it on Onvia.com, the most popular federal government contracting website.
RFP Posting on Professional Organization Websites
There may be a chance that the professional associations that your organization belongs to have listing boards for RFPs on their website. For example the American Association of Airport Executives has a RFP/RFQ board.