web design rfp

Web Design RFP – Tips, Free Template, and More

By: Frank DePino | November 12, 2020

Your web design is essential to how your business is perceived, the traffic and leads your website generates and, ultimately, converting those leads into paying customers.

Selecting a qualified web design firm is one of the most important marketing decisions you will make. 

Just as you would select a contractor for your physical home by requesting bids, you should start the process of designing your digital home with a web design request for proposals (RFP). 

The quality of the proposals you will receive will only be as good as the RFP you provide. 

What is an RFP and Why Do I Need One?

A Web Design Request For Proposal (RFP) is a detailed written description of the target audience, goals, functional elements, design criteria, technical requirements, and budget for a website. You provide this document to prospective web design services providers to solicit their detailed proposals for your web design project. 

We’ve created a FREE RFP template to help you provide the most accurate and informative brief for your upcoming project.  

Free Download

Web Design RFP Template

Simplify the process of creating Requests for Proposals with this free tool.

Why The Content Of Your Web Design RFP Is Critical

Your web design RFP is where you specify what you need.

A well written Web Design RFP will also help you in other ways. A Web Design RFP should:

  • Crystalize your thinking about what you need from your website
  • Prevent scope creep
  • Facilitate receiving accurate bids for your project
  • Help you and prospective designers understand if you are a match
  • Serve as a document to hold your web design firm accountable

The Critical Elements Of A Web Design RFP

Introduction

The first paragraph of your RFP should be a high-level overview of the project. This paragraph should allow potential bidders to decide if this is their area of expertise quickly.

A firm that specializes in e-commerce won’t be an excellent match for a luxury travel business.

A solo-designer won’t likely tackle a complex project involving both interactive design, coding and marketing.

rfp template

Think of your opening paragraph as a filter that quickly eliminates designers who are a poor match for your project.

Be sure to include the reason for the project and an overview of what’s included.

Your RFP introduction is also an excellent place to tell prospective designers about your business. 

Share the history of your company. 

  • What business are you in? 
  • What sets you apart from your competition? 
  • What values are important to you?  

At Mediaboom, we sometimes receive RFPs that simply say, “check out our webpage to learn more about us.” 

Of course, a designer will have already looked at your existing web presence (assuming you have one).  But do not rely on this. 

Use the introduction to give the designer a sense of what kind of business they’re dealing with.  Let your corporate personality show.  

Many successful web design firms focus on projects that align with a specific style or aesthetic. A designer who excels at a corporate wall-street style site might struggle to design, for example, a street-savvy clothing webshop.  

Don’t be so formulaic with your RFP that you fail to communicate the personality of your brand. 

Target Audience

Closely related to your brand’s personality is your target audience. The two aren’t always aligned.

We find it’s not uncommon for a client’s branding to be a mismatch to their target audience. Or perhaps, you want to make a pivot from your current demographic to an emerging one. 

website design rfp

That’s essential information for your web designer and will further help them decide if this project is appropriate for them.

If you have taken the time to define a customer avatar, this is the place to provide it.  

At a minimum, you should provide basic demographics like,

  • target age, 
  • gender, 
  • income level and 
  • geography. 

Even better, provide psychographics. 

  • Why are our customers in the market for the product and service we sell? 
  • Where do they shop?
  • Where do they hang out, the country club, night clubs, coffee shops?
  • What other brands do they buy? 
  • What are their political leanings?

You can’t provide too much detail here. The better defined your target audience, the easier the entire project becomes. Don’t give this section the brush-off.

In our experience, it can be the make-or-break criteria for a successful design. 

Free Download

Web Design RFP Template

Simplify the process of creating Requests for Proposals with this free tool.

Core Objectives

This is where you will state your goals for the project. 

This is a good time for a sanity check. Are your objectives aligned with your project description in the intro?

We are often surprised to find clients come to us with a set of goals and a misaligned project scope.

For example, clients who want to generate more leads for their business may have their entire scope focused on branding.

Branding’s great; we love branding, but it doesn’t necessarily generate leads, at least not in the short-term.

Most web designers would rather have a customer with clear goals than a customer with specific site elements or technology requirements.

Some examples of possible objectives are:

  • Increased leads
  • Increased sales
  • Improved conversion
  • Improved branding 
  • Better media outreach

Ask yourself and answer the question, “How will I know if this project was a success?” 

A pretty website is not a goal. Your goal should be a measurable change in a business result.

rfp for web design

Don’t be afraid to be specific, “Our goal is a 50% increase in organic traffic.” Or “Our goal is a 33% improvement in conversions.” 

We recommend doing the 3-whys exercise.

For example,

We want a more attractive website.

1. Why?

So people spend more time on our site.

2. Why?

So they’ll get interested in what we sell.

3. Why?

So they’ll ask for a proposal.

Ah, so the business goal is more requests for proposals. Got it!

Project Scope & Deliverables

Project scope and deliverables are the core of your RFP and probably the most lengthy section. In this section, you will specify what you envision the project will entail.

We’re about to provide a list of possible subsections to include. First, a word comfort, don’t panic. 

website rfp

You will probably not know precisely what you want in all these areas, especially if your business is non-technical in nature.

That’s OK.

Don’t try to be technical about what you want. Focus instead on the functionality and results you require. 

  • Branding: Are you happy with your current logo? Colors? Taglines? Or are you looking for rebranding as well?
  • Design: Do you have any specific design elements or navigation features that are must-haves? What user platforms are the most critical to your business, desktop, mobile, both?
  • Content and copywriting: Who will provide the written content on your site, your in-house team or the web design firm? Is ranking the content of search engines important to you? Is there existing content to be migrated over to the new design?
  • Features and Functionality: Besides consuming the information on your site, what do you want visitors to do on your site? Place orders? Schedule demos? Do you want to capture email IDs or other contact information? Chat with customer support?
  • Integrations:  Are there other pieces of technology that your website must connect with? For example:
    • Customer Relationship Management system (CRM)
    • An Email Marketing application
    • An Inventory management system
    • A credit card processor
    • A video conferencing service (e.g., Zoom or Google Chat)
    • A scheduling application
  • Content Management System (CMS): How will you manage your site’s content in the future? Will you have regular blog posts? Customer Reviews? Do you have a specific technology you want to use to manage this? Do you want the designer to propose something? Do you want your web designer to do this for you as needed?
  • Technical Requirements: Do you want your web design to use a specific programming language? Do you need to connect to a particular e-commerce platform? Do you have reliability objectives?
  • Additional Requirements: 
    • Custom photography?
    • Videos?
    • Multiple languages?
    • HIPAA or PCI requirements?
    • Accessibility?
    • Special security requirements?

Free Download

Web Design RFP Template

Simplify the process of creating Requests for Proposals with this free tool.

Site Map

If you have specific ideas about your web design sections and pages, you will specify them here. Some content is standard, like “About” or “Contact.”  You should list those to be sure.

  • What else do you envision needing?
  • Will you have a list of services? 
  • What about a product catalog? 
  • Will you have a blog?
  • Testimonials / reviews? 
  • Resources? 
  • Press page?

Website Examples

The website examples section is fun to write. For once, you get paid to surf the web. Look for sites, in and outside of your industry, that you admire.

Of course, you don’t want your designer to outright copy another site. That’s not the goal here.

Including examples of sites you like in your web design RFP is a great way to help the designer understand what you like.

Be sure to include multiple examples and explain what you do and don’t like about the example site.

Timeline & Milestones

This is where you will provide your desired schedule for the work. The timeline will probably be a negotiation with the design firm you select. Only the people doing the work have a clear idea of how much time they need for each piece.

Nonetheless, set some objectives and milestones. 

rfp for website

It may help to work backward from your desired launch date. If you have specific dates set in stone, be sure to mention those.

Some typical milestones are, 

  • Final Vendor Selection: Month XX, 20YY
  • Kick-off: Month XX, 20YY
  • Site Map Finalized: Month XX, 20YY 
  • Initial Design Presentation: Month XX, 20YY
  • Final Design Approval: Month XX, 20YY
  • Launch: Month XX, 20YY

Budget

Of course, you will need to specify your budget for the project. 

Specifying a budget may seem like a poor negotiation strategy. You may fear designers will inflate their proposals to take full advantage of whatever budget you propose.

We understand that fear, but without a budget, your RFPs will be all over the map. 

Stating your budget will quickly filter out design firms with cost structures way above your means and will help the vendors who are a match to your needs customize their proposals.

rfp budgeting

Any firm you would want to work with will give you feedback about your budget versus the specified project.

Expect follow-on conversations that discuss the tradeoffs; for this amount, we can provide this, for this other amount, that.

Being open about your budget will save you endless frustration and money in the long run!

Submission Instructions

Selection Criteria: Be sure to let the candidate design firms know how you will make your decision. What factors will you be assessing, and how will they be weighted.

  • Speed
  • Cost
  • Experience
  • Fit

Clearly stating your selection criteria ensures that each proposal will communicate and highlight that information. This delineation makes it much easier to assess the different proposals.

Finally, you’ll need to explain what content you expect in the web design proposals and the format you want to receive them in.

Where: To whom should they send their proposal, and to whom may they address any questions?

When: Until what date will you accept proposals?

What: What content should the proposals include besides the design proposal itself? What other information will inform your decision?

  • Firm background information
  • References
  • Examples of prior work
  • Team member resumes
  • Project timeline
  • Cost breakdown
  • Related services

How: In what format do you want the proposals? Paper or digital? MS-Word or PDF? 

We’re Here to Help

We know that was a lot to take in. If you’ve never created a web design RFP before, you may be reeling. 

Free Download

Web Design RFP Template

Simplify the process of creating Requests for Proposals with this free tool.

Just complete that template as honestly and directly as you can, and you’ll be well on your way to a great web design RFP! 

If you don’t know something, don’t delete that section. Leave it in and ask the proposers to make suggestions.

By doing so, you ensure that information is included in the RFPs, and you’ll learn a lot from reading the different proposals.

If you still feel overwhelmed, reach out. We’d be happy to help with your RFP.
 

By: Frank DePino

Frank DePino is Principal and Founder of Mediaboom. Since 2002, Frank has led Mediaboom’s award-winning staff of creative and technical professionals building the most effective marketing and advertising solutions for its clients.

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