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How to Write a Website RFP That Gets You Good Proposals

If you’re planning a new website or a website upgrade or expansion for your business, you may want to get multiple bids or quotes. The challenge is that websites have lots of moving pieces and there are numerous valid options for almost any feature or function, so how do you get apples-to-apples quotes? The solution is to write a clear and concise Request for Proposal (RFP) and provide it to any firm you are considering.

If you’re going to use the RFP approach, the quality and accuracy of the quotes you receive will have a direct relationship to how much detail you provide in your RFP. So don’t skimp on this step. Contact us at Eight Trails if you need help writing your RFP. And, of course, we would be excited to bid on your project when you have your RFP complete.

Here are the essentials to include in your website RFP:

  1. State your business goal(s): What is the primary reason you are embarking on this website project? (e.g. Make the site easy to update, better reflect your brand, make the site responsive for mobile devices, make the site more visually exciting, etc)
  2. List all the functionality you want on your site, in as much detail as possible. (e.g., Online product sales, blog or news section, slideshow, email newsletter or alerts signup, multiple logins for content managers, event calendar, etc)
  3. Divide the project into design/development (if you’re considering a new look or a new platform) and ongoing site management.
  4. If you already have a hosting account, provide the name of the hosting company and, if you know it, the type of hosting (e.g. shared or dedicated or VPS or cloud, Linux or Windows, managed WordPress). If you don’t already have hosting in place, detail any needs or requirements or preferences.
  5. Same as above for your domain name. If you have one (or more), include the domain names in the RFP and indicate which is the primary. If you need help acquiring a domain name, indicate this.
  6. For development, indicate whether you have any technical requirements. If you don’t, ask the firms to recommend software and provide their rationale for the recommendation. For example, at Eight Trails we recommend an off-the-shelf, open source development platform like WordPress or Drupal or ExpressionEngine, rather than a proprietary content management system (CMS), because the latter ties you to the development firm in ways that are not always beneficial to you.
  7. Clients often request a website that they can maintain themselves. That’s feasible, but it requires that you have someone with a fairly extensive set of skills to maintain the site: HTML, CSS, image preparation (Photoshop), FTP, knowledge of the CMS and plugins, security, backups, domain name management, maybe email account management, etc. I tell clients that it’s like owning a car: You can decide what level of maintenance you have the time and skills to tackle — from washing the car to changing the oil to replacing brake pads to overhauling the transmission. Be realistic about what you know and what you have time to do, then budget realistically to pay someone who is trained to take care of the rest.
  8. For ongoing site management, give some idea of the nature and frequency of your site updates. For example, during your busy season, you might be changing text and adding photos on 3 or 4 pages a week, other times of the year you might do nothing.
  9. If you have a deadline or even a target date for the site to go live, state this.
  10. If you have a budget figure you must work within, state this.
  11. Provide the RFP details: What is the deadline? To whom should the RFP be sent? Is a digital document (PDF, for example) okay or do you need a printed proposal? Who is your point of contact for questions about the RFP?

By the way, if you do receive questions from any of the candidate firms, make sure to provide those questions and your answers to all of the firms. This makes sure that everyone is working from the same information.

Let us know if we can help you prepare your RFP, or if we can provide you a bid on your website project. Contact Eight Trails here.

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