Find the Best Website Design Company in 5 Easy Steps (Hint: Write an RFP)

July 1, 2021

5 minutes

When you’re looking for someone to build or redesign a website you may be unsure where to start. Searching online isn’t exactly helpful either—a Google search for web designer returns over twelve billion results! Nobody has time to sort through all of that. Instead, you can quickly cut to the chase and find a great web designer by writing a request for proposal (RFP).

Maybe you’ve never written a website RFP before, or maybe you don’t think they’re really necessary (sometimes they’re not). Writing an RFP shouldn’t be overwhelming or intimidating. This useful exercise will help you clarify your internal goals and lead you to identify the best website company for your project.

In this post, we’ll discuss what you need to include in your website RFP to help you clearly communicate your expectations and quickly find the right fit for your project.

What’s a Website RFP?

Writing a website RFP is a fantastic way to find a web design company. This detailed proposal provides prospective vendors with an accurate description of who you are, what you hope to accomplish, and the requirements needed to create a winning website.

In a way, website RFPs are similar to job postings except that, rather than hiring an employee, you’re posting an opportunity to contract with a vendor on a specific project—in this case  building or redesigning a website. And just like a traditional interview process, an RFP allows both sides to evaluate each others’ respective capabilities, services, and styles and determine if this project will be a good fit.

RFPs are typically similar in function and form. Most web design companies will expect you to provide information such as:

  • A description of your company, project managers, and key stakeholders involved
  • A timeline and expectations regarding progress reports and deliverables
  • What you hope to achieve with the website redesign
  • What you don’t like about your current site
  • Technology that must be integrated into the site, e.g. CRM
  • Specific functionality requirements, e.g. user profiles or client logins
  • Examples of sites you like
  • Deadline for when you plan to select your vendor by

Taking the time to craft a thoughtful website design RFP saves you time and money in the long run and helps to ensure that you find the right match for your web design project.

What Are the Benefits of Writing an RFP?

There are many benefits to writing an RFP, but the biggest benefit is taking the time to think through the specifics of your project to ensure that every detail is addressed. This sets the stage for a smooth production process and helps avoid costly scope creep. Here are a few additional benefits of crafting a website RFP:

Clarifying Expectations
Website companies prefer to know as many details as possible so that they can determine whether they have the capacity and capabilities to meet your expectations. Describing your company is also extremely important because some website companies may have extensive experience designing websites within your niche. Also, since website creation is part science and part art, you need to make sure you’re comfortable with the company’s creative approach and style.

Identifying Expertise
Web design companies employ developers with varying skills, styles, and proficiencies that may or may not pertain to your project. For example, you may need a web design company that specializes in e-commerce or online learning. Those are specific areas that don’t apply to all businesses so you want a company with expertise in those areas.

Obtaining an Accurate Quote
We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to provide an accurate scope of work in your website RFP. These details are crucial to obtaining an accurate quote. If you aren’t thorough with this step, you risk getting halfway through a website project and stumbling across an oversight that costs you a big chunk of money and time.

Finding the Right Fit
Fit is so important to a company’s brand identity and it’s the same with hiring contractors. You need to partner with a vendor that complements your company’s culture—especially since you’re entrusting them with an aspect of your brand. Website design and development is not a cookie-cutter industry. Make sure you select a team that can integrate seamlessly within your own corporate culture.

What to Include in a Website RFP

As we’ve already discussed, web design RFPs should provide specific information that will help both parties identify the best partnership. Here are the sections that you should include in your website RFP and questions you should answer to help guide the vendor selection process.

Company Description
Provide a general idea of who you are and what you do. What’s your brand style? How do you operate internally? Let the website vendors you’re pursuing get a sense of what it would be like to work with you. How many people will be involved in the approval process? Who will manage the project on your end? Which stakeholders need to be satisfied before moving forward? This is useful information to give a prospective company an idea of your current realities.

In this section, please include all the important dates surrounding the selection, kick-off, and completion of this web design project, such as:

  • When the RFP was sent
  • When proposals are due back to you
  • When you plan to finalize your selection
  • Project start and launch dates

Sometimes your timeline will determine whether or not a company will submit a proposal. It’s always better to offer plenty of lead time. Rushed jobs are difficult and stressful, and many companies will avoid RFPs with unrealistic timelines.

New Website Goals
This is the fun part, where you cast the vision and share your goals for your new website. Helpful points to make are the purpose of the website, the target audience, and persona information, as well as any restructuring of content or site navigation that will improve the user experience. If there are metrics, sales goals, or other KPIs you should add those here as well.

Current Website Description and Pain points
Why are you revamping your website? Describe any pain points or frustrations with your current site. Include historical information such as when your website was built or last updated, your hosting service, code used, any legacy integrations that need to be adjusted, integrated, or abandoned. Be as specific as possible with the pain points so that your prospective vendor can have the opportunity to propose solutions to resolve these problems.

Scope of Website Design or Redesign
In this section, list out every requirement you hope to address in this website design or redesign. Here are some questions to help you define the scope of your project:

  • Is this a rebranding/facelift project or a complete overhaul?
  • Do you have a preference regarding CMS platforms, e.g WordPress?
  • Do you want to keep or change the current website navigation?
  • What functionality is needed, e.g. e-commerce, portals, online learning, etc.?
  • Are there any third-party integrations needed, e.g. CRM?
  • What are your expectations in terms of SEO? Will you need help?
  • How many pages are needed? Do you need help writing, rewriting, or consolidating?
  • Do you want to incorporate video elements (We think you should!)
  • Will you need professional or stock photography?
  • How many users will manage the site content? What type of login access will you need?

This is necessary to help you get proposals from companies that can serve you within your budgetary considerations.

Proposal Requirements
What should interested companies include in their proposals to you? Some things you may want to see on the proposal are:

  • Specialties or expertise in specific technologies or integrations
  • Other services offered, e.g. digital marketing services
  • If the company designs and develops or will one of those services be outsourced
  • Size of the team
  • Referrals
  • Examples of past work
  • Whether or not they have experience within your niche
  • Any specific ideas to address your goals or pain points
  • Suggested timelines, milestones, and deliverables
  • Pricing options and schedules, e.g. when payments are due
  • Any other unique differentiators
  • Conditions and expectations they will have of you

You’ve Written Your RFP, Now What?

It doesn’t have to be fancy, but an RFP is helpful in formalizing the process of finding the right website vendor and clearly communicating what you’re looking for with the website companies you’d like to work with. There are many different RFP templates available online, many of which are general and don’t apply specifically to website development and design.

When you feel that your RFP is ready, send it to the website vendors of your choice. You can ask around in your professional network for recommendations or you can look at the footer of websites you love—the designer’s name or logo will usually be there.

If you need more help finding vendors to contact with your RFP, check out https://clutch.co/web-designers or simply contact us, we would love to review your RFP and help you discover if Cross & Crown would be a good fit for your next website project!

Cross & Crown

About Cross & Crown

Cross & Crown is a team of creatives who are passionate about solving problems through design and technology, taking what is there and making it better. Based in Chambersburg, PA, we strive to help educate, advocate, and thrive in a digital world.

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We drive results for work that matters.