There is no perfect way to construct an RFP (request for proposal), but we can all recognize an unclear one when we read it. And, here in the Major Tom web department, we would know. With RFPs flying in, out, and through our department, we’ve become experts on what works and what doesn’t.
While working with prospective clients to create proposals for web projects, we find ourselves asking the same questions again and again. Taking the time to create an RFP that answers the right questions will not only save you time and money, but will land you with the vendor you want. You’ll be left with high quality responses and agency’s who have a clear understanding of what you need to accomplish.
You don't need to be an expert in web design to write an effective RFP. All you need to do is establish clear goals, provide the right details, and solicit useful information from vendors. Here are a few common clarifying questions to ask yourself before you craft your next vendor-winning RFP.
Before we start, let’s clarify exactly what an RFP is
Requests for proposals are usually sent out by companies that are looking for agencies to submit proposals to work on projects together to prospective agencies. In this case, we’re speaking specifically about RFPs for websites or web projects.
Why is having an RFP beneficial?
A website RFP is a fantastic first step when looking to find an agency to help you with your project, as it outlines all of your needs to give agencies a better idea of what you’re looking for and what’s driving your decisions. It provides granular details about project information and what project success looks like, so that agencies can understand exactly how to achieve your goals. Ultimately, RFPs are beneficial to have so that you can supply agencies with the same consistent information to better compare proposals.
Even if you don’t plan on writing a RFP for a project you’re looking to start, thinking about the answers to some of these questions beforehand will help you start conversations with potential agencies, letting you be clear about what your project will look like. You don’t necessarily need to follow a strict RFP process to reap the benefits of having your project clearly defined, either. Read on and answer the questions provided to give yourself clarity.
Questions agencies always ask when responding to RFPs
Why are you wanting a new website? What’s not currently working?
This is a great opportunity to vocalize the current issues you’re trying to fix with your current site.
Is it confusing and complex to update content?
Is the UX/UI lacking and outdated?
Are you unhappy with the speed of the website?
Listing these issues out will help potential agencies understand what you’re trying to achieve with your next site iteration and can facilitate some great follow up questions to help inform solutions.
What is influencing your project deadline?
Choosing an arbitrary date for the sake of it isn’t necessarily the best approach when it comes to RFPs. You may think it’s better to get a new site up as quickly as possible, but having a reasonably flexible timeline will allow your agency of choice to fully execute on their website creation process instead of having to prioritize speed over process and features. Faster isn’t always better.
If you do have a tight deadline for an important reason, being open minded about rolling out the new site in stages will grant you the highest quality work.
Consider web accessibility
Web accessibility, when a site is built in an inclusive way so anyone with a disability or utilizing an assistive technology can use it, is important to consider. This is not something that is done automatically and needs to be a priority from the very beginning of a project. Ensure to include a section in your RFP for accessibility.
If you’re unclear on what web accessibility is, how it can benefit you, or how to navigate your options for improving your web accessibility, check out 5 things you need to know about web accessibility.
Don’t forget about your website content
Do you need professional support creating new content for your new site? Or do you have the capabilities in house? Website content is extremely important and should be discussed during the initial phase of a project. You’ll also need to consider how current content like blog posts or news will be migrated over to a new site once built and plan to discuss this with any potential vendors.