How helpful can a website design RFP template be? Well we will explain the reasons why you need a website design RFP template…

If it’s time to refresh your dated website, but where do you start? Hiring an agency to build a website or redesign your current site can feel like a massive undertaking. And can create endless procrastination when you consider what it will take to write a Request for Proposal (RFP).

That said, RFPs serve many great purposes. They can help flesh out your thoughts and ideas for your new site and force you to answer some questions that are probably best answered before you start the redesign project.

A well-executed RFP process can help you compare multiple agencies and clearly define your objectives.

If you’ve never written an RFP or you’re having trouble starting one, there’s no need to stare at a blank page. We’ve broken down the elements of creating an effective website design RFP in 2020 and even included a website RFP template you can download to get started.

In this article, we’ll cover: 

  • Why you need to write an RFP
  • What makes a good website design RFP
  • What your RFP should include
  • Who you should send your RFP to
  • Bonus website design RFP tips
  • Website RFP template download

Why You Need To Write An RFP

You may be wondering why writing an RFP is even necessary. Why not just google design agencies and contact them directly?

Yes, you can take that approach, but it will cost you time and could endanger the entire project.

Your website is your calling card to the world. You shouldn’t mess around when it comes to selecting a company to work on it. Doing your due diligence will help ensure that you hire a reputable agency and get quality work. 

You should write an RFP for two main reasons:

  1. It lets you, as an organization, get your thoughts together.
  2. It allows the future agency to respond directly to your needs within a written proposal.

Writing an RFP can help your organization clarify your goals and objectives with the project and define a budget. Agencies can respond directly to the RFP, which saves you time from searching and contacting many agencies or development companies one-on-one.

Overall, an RFP helps everyone involved with the website design get a better understanding of the desired outcome and whether it’s a good fit for either party – the organization and the bidding agency.

What Makes A Good Website Design RFP?

graphic showing what makes a good website rfp list

Clarity

The more precise you can be about your goals and requirements with your website redesign, the better. Spend some time with your team defining what functionalities your website needs and what you don’t like about your current site.

What are you hoping the new design will achieve for your organization?

Drive higher conversion rates?

Increase your email subscribers?

These are the types of ideas and goals you should clearly articulate in your RFP as you begin to compose your document.

A conversational tone

Your website design RFP should sound like your company. It may be an agency’s first impression of your organization. Make it an accurate one!

Help companies get an idea of who you are and your organization’s culture by using a conversational tone. Write as you speak, but keep it professional. Yes, you are searching for an agency to work for you but remember they are also choosing you. So, make the RFP enticing and easy to read.

No legalese

No. No. No. When you’re writing an RFP, you’re talking to agencies, not people in your industry. Write in a way that anyone can read your document without knowledge of your industry or company.

In other words, leave the industry jargon and legalese out. There’s a time and place for the legal terms–in the contract once you’ve selected a company to hire.

Detail

Don’t leave anything out of your website design RFP, including dates, timelines, and budget details. We’ll go over each of the sections of a quality website design RFP later in this post. It’s worth mentioning here, so you can remember to be as detailed as possible when writing each section: The more detail you provide will help sift out the agencies that are not a good fit for your project. 

A few questions that might help you:

Does your project include digital marketing?

Are you looking for a team that provides ongoing support for your staff and your website?

Does this website project include web development or is it just UX?

Does your website development project require ecommerce and a shopping cart?

Ask for open-ended responses

Leaving open-ended response opportunities in your RFP will give the agency more room to pitch and add anything they feel is essential to tell you. Whereas if you use Excel for your RFP, with only fields to enter data, you don’t get a feel for the agency. By including open-ended responses, you’ll get a better idea of the agency and how they specialize.

Organization

Make sure when you’re writing your website design RFP that it flows well and is laid out logically. For example, lead with a high-level overview of the project and your company and save the details on timelines and budget for the end. 

Establish who your audience is and the state of your current website before you start talking about goals for the new site. Organizing the document logically will make it easier for agencies to follow and respond.

Organization is vital when writing an RFP.

What Should the RFP include?

Your website design RFP should include the following 10 sections. Include all 10 sections to make sure you get all the critical information across. You can download the template with these sections in it at the bottom of this post.

woman typing on a computer

Website design RFP sections:

Project overview

The project overview should include a high-level, concise statement of why you need a website redesign. Be sure to include the website URL as well as any other pertinent information required for the project. It may be easier to write other areas of the template first and then come back to this section once you’ve figured out all the details.

Organization overview

This is where you can share your organization’s information like where you started, your culture, and your brand. It’s similar to the “about us” section of a website. Make sure it reflects your company accurately because this is where an agency gets to know you and decides if they want to work with you. 

Your website’s audience

Here, you list who is currently coming to your site and who you’d like your target customer or audience to be on the new site. Your website’s design should serve your target audience well. It can impact features, content, and the overall user experience of your site. So, list in detail the type of audience you want to attract.

New website objectives

What do you want to achieve with your new website? List your objectives in order of priority.

Do you want to increase membership?

Are you trying to build brand awareness?

Would you like to sell more online?

Or educate your target audience on your mission?

These are different objectives that can affect the site’s design and function.

Current website

Give an overview of your current website in this section. What feedback have you received? Talk about the strengths and weaknesses of your website and what you’d like to improve.

New website requirements

List your new site’s must-haves here. Do you need your site optimized for mobile? Do you need an improved navigation menu? Outlining specific requirements will help agencies give you an accurate estimate. 

Functionality

In this section, give an overview of your site’s current functionality, as well as desired functionalities or coding. Some examples may include online forms and custom applications.

Budget details

Provide the total budget for your project. Being upfront about how much you want to spend will help sort out agencies out of your budget. It can also allow agencies to express how they can customize their services. Include a payment schedule and any other information that helps to explain your budget.

RFP and project timeline

Include all relevant dates and timeline information regarding the RFP and project. Agencies want to know when the RFP is due, when they can expect to hear back from you, and any information you can provide on your selection process. You should also list when you want the project to start and end ideally.

Proposal requirements

Here you’ll want to give instructions to agencies responding to your RFP with all the criteria they should include in their proposal. 

This section is significant because it will help you make an apples-to-apples comparison.

You may also want to ask for references, company information, and experience in order to make the best decision. You’ll find this section in our website design RFP template. You can download it below.

Who Should You Send Your RFP To?

two colleagues doing research

Once you’ve written your RFP, who should get it? Only send it to qualified agences. You want the best of the best, so don’t send your RFP to agencies who don’t fit your criteria. Wait until you have an excellent selection from which to choose.

Send your RFP out to no more than 7 agencies—5 is ideal. Three great responses will be enough. Having too many options to choose from can derail the decision-making process.

Go beyond a simple Google search for vendors. Do your due diligence and reach out to your network on LinkedIn or other social media platforms. Ask people in your industry if they recommend anyone. Industry resource groups such as your local chamber or association are a good source for referrals too.

Clutch.co is another avenue for finding agency reviews. Clutch rates top web design companies according to industries and various other factors. You can read client testimonials and get company information such as prices.

Take your time searching for the right vendor. You’re investing in your business. It’s worth it to wait for the best agency to design a website you’ll love for years to come.

Some Extra Website Design RFP Template Tips

man typing while checking his notes on website design RFP template

Do:

Provide reference links to websites you like

Give the agency links to websites you like so they can get a feel for your style and what you want. Be sure to list why you like them and call out specific design details.

Know how many pages you have on your current site

You don’t want to miss any critical content on your current site to transition to your new website. Knowing the total page count of your site can help avoid content gaps.

Know where content lives

During the redesign process, your agency will ask you for the content you want to put on your new site. It’s a good idea to know where all your content lives for quick reference and sort out what you want to keep and leave behind.

Plan to have a dedicated project manager

You’ll want to have either a temporary or full-time project manager, depending on the scope of work. Having a dedicated staff member to own the project will ensure clear communication all around.

Don’t:

Ask for a hard copy proposal

Everything is electronic these days, your RFP should be too. Hard copies can get lost easily and are time-consuming for everyone.

Dictate page count

If you dictate page count, you’re missing out on the opportunity to hear everything an agency has to say about their company and what they can do for you.

Dictate the format or flow of the proposal

Let the agencies responding to your RFP tailor their proposal. Don’t be strict on how the document is returning to you. It creates more work for you anyway. 

Try to do a sitemap on your own

Let the agency you hire do the work in the right order, and don’t do a sitemap before sending out the RFP. If you do, you’ll just be creating more work for yourself, and most likely, it will change.

Sound demanding

Don’t let a previous bad experience with a vendor tarnish your tone. Keep your tone light and positive. If you come off as demanding, you might chase away quality prospects.

Making the right choice

creative team working

A website design RFP is an important step to hiring a top agency to design your website. Don’t just attempt phone calls with agencies and hope for the best. It’s a process that should be worked from start to finish to achieve the best results.

You’ll be spending a lot of time and money with the agency you ultimately choose. Like any major purchasing decision, you should take your time, do your research, and don’t settle for average! In the end, you’ll be happy that you followed the steps and hired the best agency for the job.

When it’s time to redesign your website, the first question most agencies will ask is, “do you have a website redesign RFP?“.


Written by

Zachary Wilson

I enjoy reading & writing about the web and digital marketing. My day-to-day focuses on ensuring our clients have big wins. That begins with extraordinary website design and UX. The real exciting stuff is helping develop strategies to drive traffic (on-site page optimization) and help conversion rate optimization (getting new sales and / or customers). With all my “other” time, I enjoy exploring new adventures with my 3 daughters and wife.