How to write an RFP for your website project

In our digitally connected world, a company's website can easily be one of its most valuable—if not the most valuable—assets.

Building a website, however, is not as simple as signing up to a website building service, dragging and dropping a few elements, and launching… that is if you want a quality end-product that will deliver good results.

Websites are no longer simple HTML pages with a few bits of text and images; they are complex large-scale projects that need to be built in a way that enables it to stand up to the challenges and expectations of the modern web.

At an enterprise-level, websites require a specific level of expertise to be properly planned, built, and deployed. This is the reason why most businesses choose to outsource their website development to specialist WordPress designers or other web agencies.

Sourcing Outside Assistance

Finding the best resources for your new website design project can be difficult and complicated, though. There are literally millions of potential candidates dotted all around the world—we always recommend going local, though—and judging whether an individual designer or WordPress development company is right for you isn't easy.

You don't have to go out on the hunt for suitable candidates, though—why not create a request for proposal (RFP) and let the talent come to you?

An RFP is what individual designers and agencies use to assess your project, decide whether they are a suitable fit given your requirements, and then submit a proposal for your consideration.

What Goes into a Good RFP?

It probably doesn't come as a surprise to learn that a good RFP is more likely to lead to better proposals from potential candidates whereas a bad, unsuitable, or rushed RFP is likely to lead to proposals from unscrupulous and "lower quality" candidates.

Think of your RFP as the first impression a potential project partner will have of you. A really good RFP—one that is realistic, clear, concise, and gets to the point immediately—sets the project in good stead from the outset.

When your RFP is ready to go, simply submit it to the Birmingham WordPress designers you think are a good match for you—the more, the better—and wait for responses to come in.

Initial proposals from agencies will typically provide a skeleton solution to your project that outlines work scope, timings, and costs. From here, you will follow up with the agencies you are interested in with phone calls, interviews, and Q&A sessions to gauge which one is most suitable for your project.

What an RFP Should Look Like

There are no "rules" per se when creating an RFP, however, as leading WordPress developers in Birmingham we have seen our fair share of what's good, what's bad (and what's downright terrible).

In our experience, an RFP should at least contain the following information:

1. Who you are

Some design agencies will only work with companies from particular industries as this is their "niche". This is why it is important to, from the outset of your RFP, to state who you are and what you do—if your company operates in a very specific niche or has a very specific target audience, this needs to be outlined straight away.

The people reading your RFP should be able to learn about your organization straight away. By knowing who you are, what you do, and a little history, they will be able to provide you with a better response.

2. Project summary

This is where you will provide reasoning for your RFP. Clearly outline the reason you need a new website and why you have submitted your RFP. It is also a good idea to hint at what it is you expect from the agency, outline any shortcomings of your current website, and what the goals are for your new website.

Don't be afraid to be transparent and upfront here—if you have previously worked with an agency and got burned in the process (costly reworks, missed deadlines, and subpar deliverables) then list those, too.

3. Deliverables and project scope

At this point, you need to be writing down what specific services and deliverables you are looking for.

For example, do you just want a functional website creating or do you also want branding and content marketing included, too? Every project's scope is different and by listing everything you want from a WordPress development company in terms of deliverables, you avoid working with an agency that cannot get the whole job done.

Front and backend development

Graphic design and branding

UX/UI planning

Content—strategy, creation, implementation

On-site SEO

Marketing—PPC, social media, and content

These are just a few examples of what can go into website development. Each of these sections requires a degree of proficiency from any agency in order to meet your standards.

4. Selection criteria

The agencies receiving your RFP need to have a transparent picture of what will constitute a successful working relationship. Think about what your must-haves and deal breakers are for hiring an agency to complete your project.

For example, what's your budget or budget range? Include this as part of the selection criteria to avoid proposals from agencies that will be too expensive.

What's your ideal timeline? If you want a new website launched within 3 months and an agency is fully booked for the next 6 months, this clearly wouldn't work.

How does the agency handle its affairs? If you want everything done in-house by the vendor, then mention this so that agencies who sub-contract parts of the project (e.g. graphic design because they don't have in-house designers) don't submit proposals.

Taking RFP Creation Seriously

You should treat the creation of your RFP as if you were writing your business plan again—it's a highly important document that can mean the difference between success and failure for a website design project.

While every RFP is different, the four examples above are pieces of information that must be included in every single one.

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