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The Ultimate Guide to Writing an RFP for Web Development


A Request for Proposal, also known as an RFP, is the common method for businesses to describe the needs and wants for a project. It is a document that proposes changes and requests from specific vendors.

Businesses and organizations will use request for proposal documents when they require outside assistance to complete a project. The request will outline in detail what is needed, as well as an overview of the project thus far, such as the project timeline, overall budget, and detailed specification. It will also outline what roles various employees and contractors will play in the project.

Government agencies will typically use request for proposal documents for grants and funding opportunities. Other foundations and organizations are not necessarily required to issue these documents, but will often use them to announce funding opportunities anyway.

RFPs can aid in your project’s funding search but is typically used for project grants rather than soliciting overall operating support.

In the context of web design, an RFP is what an agency will usually use to analyze your project’s needs and then offer you a proposal. A website owner or development team may want to draft an RFP for their website redesign or website launch.

How to Write an RFP for Web Development

There are several steps to consider when drafting an RFP for web development.

1. Describe Your Business and Industry

Describe in detail the products or services that you offer. Be sure to include whether you market to other companies, consumers, or even both.

List out some of your major competitors and include their web addresses. What sets you apart from those competing websites? What is your niche advantage that makes your products or services special?

Note if you already have a website or are proposing one to be built. Include the address if you’re opting for a redesign and list the problems, issues, visitor analytics, and other “cons” of the website as it is.

2. List Your Website Objectives

Why exactly is this particular project necessary? What is your overall maximum budget for the project? You may not want to talk about this sensitive topic, but an estimated budget will help software developers propose ideal and honest solutions within the limits of the budget. You may also learn that your budget is not appropriate for what you want. If you begin the relationship with immediate honesty and frankness, it will help to solidify the long-term relationship with this particular developer.

3. Describe Your Timeline

Map out the ideal project timeline, the proposal submission deadline, your ideal turnaround time to decide, and the anticipated start dates. If there are any other critical deadlines in your projected timeline, don’t hesitate to include them.

4. Describe Your Target Audience

Go into detail about your target audience, ideal customer, demographics, and what actions you want your users to take on your site. Do you want them to make a purchase, fill in their name and email for more information, call your business, register for an account, or sign up for a newsletter? Be as detailed as possible.

Think about how you want your users to consume your brand. What images should they associate with you, and why would they want to do business with your brand? Is there a very common issue or an industry problem that your products and/or services offer a solution to? What is that particular solution?

5. Dig Deep Into Your Brand

Think about your brand’s “thesis.” What is the most important mission statement your website users should understand about your brand? What makes this statement believable?

You should also include visuals, charts, themes, metaphors, testimonials, and any other available data or tools that can be used to give credibility to your statement.

Does your business have company colors? If you have a branding guide available, be sure to include it for reference.

If you have assets available that you would like to be implemented into the site, such as a logo, mockup, copywriting, photos, videos, etc., be sure to include them as well.

List websites that you are inspired by and why. List elements of common websites that you do not like and describe why you don’t want to implement them into your own site. These can include pop-ups, mailing lists, blogs, mandatory registration, etc.

6. Management and Technical Elements

List who will be managing the website’s content, whether it is just you or possibly a team. Describe how the content will be provided, what type of data you already have, and how much content you have saved for the launch.

Include whether or not you will be managing site updates or if a third party will be doing so. Describe how often you plan on updating the site and if you have any known requirements when it comes to content management systems.

It is also wise to think about overall and ongoing support from the developers. Do you need them to provide support and maintenance for the lifetime of the site? Do you have technical needs or limitations when it comes to hosting, database, and preferred programming language? If you’re unsure, discuss this with your information technology department to get a better idea.

7. Considering Design Aspects and Wrapping Up the RFP

If you need mobile-friendly elements for your site, include this information. Also include your plans for hosting, SEO, and marketing.

To wrap up, think hard about any other possible issue that should be considered. No matter how minute a concern or limitation may seem, it’s important to include it in your RFP.

Make sure it is clear how and when the proposal needs to be returned to you. Also, be descriptive of how the decision will be made for the proposal writer’s benefit. If the prospective web developers have any additional questions, be sure to include detailed and accurate contact information and instructions on how to submit their questions.

8. Utilize Templates

Now that you have gathered all of the necessary information, it’s time to organize all of that information into the standard RFP format. There are a ton of RFP templates out there that you can use.