75 Questions to Help You Write an RFP for Website Design

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July 31, 2012 at 12:00AM

Editor's Note: this article originally appeared on Social Driver's blog

Writing an RFP (request for proposal) can be an arduous process to say the least. Organizing your entire company and trying to agree on what your website will look like is not an easy job. However, if you are about to engage in a website redesign, providing an RFP to your prospective vendors helps you clarify your own goals and gives the vendor a better sense of the project so that they can provide you with an accurate cost and time estimate. Imagine trying to write a research paper without first drafting an outline. You need to know where you are going before you can get there.

A good web design agency will ask you all these questions before sending you a proposal. Make sure that whoever you are working with clearly understands what you are trying to accomplish before you pay them to build you something. You wouldn’t hire an architect without a detail project plan and web design is no different.
We’re providing 75 questions to help you guide your RFP process. Not all of the answers to these questions need to be included in the final RFP, but we urge you to think through all of them carefully. Some of your answers may be “I don’t know!” and that’s completely okay.
Project Details
  • What is your company’s background?
  • What is the description of the project?
  • What problems will the new website solve and what capabilities will it provide your organization?
  • What is the anticipated budget for this project? It’s helpful to include a detailed budget which vendors can use create a budget that actually meets your requirements.
  • What project deadlines do you have?  Are there crucial milestones that the vendors should be aware of?  Are you comfortable with vendors providing a different timeline?
Target Audience
  • Who will be the main audience(s) for your site?
  • How tech-savvy is your audience?
  • How will your users be accessing the website?  Desktop? Mobile?
  • How large do you expect your visitor base to be?
  • Where is your audience geographically?
  • What type of visitors do you want to get?
  • What are the specific actions you want users to take?
Website Goals and Objectives
  • What are your goals for the website in terms of your organizational goals?
  • How does the website contribute to achieving the goals?
  • What is the main objective of your website?
  • What have your past web effort included?
  • What do you love and hate about your current website?  Are there any analytics that you would like to share about things going well or going wrong?
Design Requirements
  • Does your company already have a branding guide that the designer will have to follow?  Are there color palette requirements or preferences?
  • Will you need a brand new logo, an updated logo, or no updates to the logo at all?
  • What are the most important visual elements? What components should users key in on and engage with?
  • Do you want this website to be responsively designed?
  • What are 3 sites you like and why?
  • What are 3 sites you dislike and why?
  • If you close your eyes and imagine your site, what do you see?
  • Do you have professional photography or will the designer need to purchase stock photography?
Content Requirements
  • Will you be using new content or pulling existing content from your current site?
  • Do you have an existing content outline or sitemap?
  • How will the content be input?
  • Do you have access to a database from your current site which could be used to import into the new site?
  • How will content be provided to the vendor?
  • What types of content will this website have? (Video, audio, photo, pdf, powerpoint)
  • Will there need to be a forward-facing searchable document library?
  • About how many pages will your website have?
  • How often will your website’s content need updating?  Do you want to be able to update it yourself?  What content do you want easily updatable?
Technical Requirements
  • Are you self-hosted? Do you need help finding a hosting solution?
  • Do you have administrative access to the webserver and databases?
  • Does the hosting and maintenance need to be included in the proposal?
  • Will the domain name change during the project?
  • What browsers will the website need to be compatible with?
  • Do you have a coding language preference?
  • Is your current website on a content management system?
  • Do you have requirements on what CMS your new website will be on?
  • Do you have any third party applications that will need to integrate with the site?
  • Will you want Google Analytics?
  • Will you need integration with any email databases?
  • Are there HTML production requirements?
  • Are there Web Accessibility requirements?
  • Does your website need to be 508 compliant?
Functional Requirements
  • Will you want forms on your site?  How will you collect information that these forms collect?  Do the forms need to be integrated with a currently existing CRM?
  • What functions besides simply displaying content will your website need? (Shopping cart, membership, registration, calendar, forum, blog, security, etc)
  • Will there be any e-commerce on the site? If so, who will be entering data on products offered? How will transactions be managed?
  • Are there any interactive features on the site?  Describe how you imagine them working or what you want them to accomplish.
  • How will the website collect and store visitor data?
Search Engine Optimization
  • What are your expectations for Search Engine Optimization?
  • Are you seeing onsite search engine optimization (including correct tags and headings, etc) or are you seeking additional SEM consulting services?
Ongoing Website Maintenance
  • How often will the site be updated?
  • Will you be self-maintaining or will you require maintenance support?  What kind of maintenance support will you need?
Project Management
  • Who will be the main point of contact on your staff?
  • What tasks will you be in charge of?  What content will you be producing?
  • What expectations do you have in terms of meeting frequency?  Do you want weekly checkin meetings, or more/less frequent?
  • Are there any third parties (subcontractors, etc.) that will also be involved in the project?
Vendor Information
  • What is the vendor’s background and history, staff, clients, portfolio of comparable sites, references, project management methodology, support process, core capabilities and qualifications?
  • What is the criteria for awarding the project?
  • Does the vendor have a launch checklist?
  • What is the vendors process when it comes to testing the site?
RFP Response Deadline and Contact Information
  • When is the response to the RFP due?
  • To whom should the response be sent?
  • Looking to request a proposal? Get in touch with us here and we’d be happy to help you with the RFP process.