Thinking of a new website….Start HERE!
We’ve worked with hundreds of companies over the last two decades (yes, we’ve been building websites since the mid-90s). We’ve had the privilege of working with companies big and small to develop an effective communication tool and better connect businesses with their customers.
Through the process we’ve changed along with the technology, ensuring that we are always with or ahead of the curve with things like responsive (mobile-friendly), SEO, e-commerce, and more. Along the way, we’ve learned many things, seen some crazy things, and built some really cool stuff.
One of the things we have seen lately is RFP’s (Request for Proposals) that almost ensure you are going to get a wide range of proposals, not just in price but in features. Unfortunately, we’ve seen too many businesses go with the low bidder only to discover that the company didn’t know the whole story with an integration, or didn’t ask all the appropriate questions and now the project costs are going to rise.
In the interest of full disclosure, we’ve been that company that didn’t ask the right questions before…..every developer has. Usually, this stems from those quirky integrations or something that wasn’t fully spelled out in the RFP. This isn’t to say that the company was trying to hide something from the developer, often they don’t know and it isn’t until the project has begun that the issues come to light.
That’s why we created this RFP worksheet to help you put together an RFP that encapsulates everything you want to do with your website and gives you a true apples to apples comparison between proposals. Let’s take take a quick second to go through the information, and why it’s important. Please know, even if you aren’t doing an RFP, having this information for any new website project will be incredibly valuable to both you and your developer.
While it may seem trivial, having an RFP that includes the primary contact is very important for vendors who may have additional questions (though completing this worksheet should limit those)!
You may wonder why you would want to provide information about your mission and a description of the company. This will help potential vendors understand the organization they are going to be working with. You will be surprised at how much this section will also help clarify things for your organization. The mission of your organization and how you describe yourself will help to set the design or “look” of a website.
This section lets the vendors know why you are wanting to move forward with this project and gives some crucial details about the scope of work.
Understanding why you want to update the website will help prospective vendors highlight the things that are important to you, and putting it down will help you identify what those things are!
It is also imperative to include all the features and implementations that you have or want to have in your new site. Additionally, you’ll want to include as much detail about these as possible. For instance, you don’t just want to say that you want an e-commerce store with your site. You would say something to the effect of “Needs to incorporate an e-commerce store with the website that allows for images, prices based on location, additional product shipping, etc. Currently using WooCommerce Plugin version 4.1.2. Can export all information from this listing and would like to be able to import to new store.”
Including all the features such as Distributor portal, Events/Calendar, e-Commerce, Team Listing, Blog, and anything else you have or want included in your site will help ensure that all your bases are covered and that each proposal you receive will meet the needs of your organization.
This section of the RFP worksheet is probably the most overlooked, even for vendors, at times until the last minute. Yes, we all know the website address (url), but do you control the domain through GoDaddy? Does another company? Where are you hosting?
While the answers to the questions in this site likely won’t change the scope of the project, having answers will certainly help that process along and will show vendors that you will be a great organization to work with!
Having these ducks in a row will really help you keep your project on track and make the entire process easier.
You know your company better than anyone. You know the history, the funny things that happen, and the things that make you special. However, when it comes to your website, knowing who will be responsible for generating, editing, and loading that content is important.
The most important part of this section is the navigation…if you are set on something. I would encourage you in this step to be open to suggestions from your vendor. While there is no denying that you are the expert on your community, you’ll want to trust their advice as they are the expert in web development, SEO, and more. This is very similar to billboards, and how the content can get lost if it isn’t viewable from 70mph at a distance. So make sure you’re collaborating with your vendor and are listening to their suggestions – and trust they are offering them for your benefit!
Timeline & Budget
This is a section of the worksheet that you may or may not share with the vendors…so why is it on the worksheet? It’s there to help you have some ideas going into the project about what resources are available and when you’d like to have your new site live. The more thorough you are with the other pieces of your RFP, the more this section will become the differentiator for the vendors.
First, let’s talk timeline. Be as flexible as possible with this. Give yourself as much lead time as possible – expecting to have a new website up and running in a month is not usually realistic and probably will come with a higher price tag.
Now, let’s talk about budget. It would be impossible for me to give you an idea on what a budget should be because each one is different, which is why we’ve created this tool for you. We get asked a lot if people should put their budget in the RFP. As a vendor, it’s great. It tell us whether or not we can be competitive on the project. However, when I was the Executive Director for an organization I didn’t like to include price in my RFP’s. I found that when it did, the proposals almost always were close to the max budget….funny how that works. Having said all that, it is important to mention communication with vendors about budget. Once you get proposals back, if there is a vendor that you really like and want to work with but can’t afford it….talk to them!! I cannot stress this point enough. They submitted a proposal so they obviously want to work with you. Proposals are just that, proposals. You may be surprised how easy things are when you talk to the vendor whose proposal you really like!
Using this worksheet will give you a great start in preparing your RFP and getting the most bids possible. Don’t forget about other things to put in your proposal that aren’t on the worksheet such as any legal disclaimers or things that are specific to your company. Once you have your RFP…share it with the world as well! Get this out in as many places as possible and let the vendors come to you!
To download our RFP worksheet, please complete our form below. We hope this helps you in putting together your RFP and gets your next website project off to a great start!