Top 10 Tips for Creating an Effective Website Design RFP

Q4 2022 is officially upon us, which means that companies are now prepping for their large 2023 website design projects. In addition to securing the funding, it’s time to create your website design rfp (request for proposal). If you are looking to modernize their site, improve your compliance with accessibility, improve ecommerce revenue, and ensure you’re up to date on the latest CMS for security purposes. The popular CMS providers such as Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, and Magenta all have recurring updates that will need to be implemented. As a full-service digital marketing agency that has won numerous website RFPs, here are our team’s top 10 website design rfp tips for getting started.

  1. Set Up a Pre-Bid Conference

Our team always finds it helpful when a pre-bid conference is available. This Zoom call gives the vendors who plan on bidding an opportunity to ask any questions and for the companies to reply in real time. This will significantly reduce the number of questions being asked formally via the addendums. 

  1. Note Your Timelines

Clearly define your website design timeline and specify the key events such as:

  • Pre-Bid Conference Date
  • Questions by the Vendor Due Date
  • Replies to the Questions Due Date
  • Submission Deadline
  • In-Person Presentation Week for the narrowed down candidates (if applicable)
  • Expected bid award date
  • Expected project start date (kickoff & discovery)
  • Expected completion and website launch date

  1. Explain How Vendors Should Respond

Specify how you would like vendors to respond to your RFP. Will they be mailing in hard copies (if so how many)? Will they need to simply email a PDF? Should the technical proposal also include the price or should the price component be separated?

  1. Get Stakeholder Input

One of our most important website design rfp tips is to get stakeholder input while writing the RFP. For example, for a website design project, the I.T. & Technology team should be included in the RFP writing process. That respective team’s input will be invaluable as they can offer up their recommended content management system (CMS) requirements, website hosting requirements, etc. All team members who will manage the project at the time of kickoff should be present in all meetings and be able to proofread the RFP before it is sent out to the public.

  1. Write an Introduction and Provide a Backstory

The introduction of your company doesn’t need to be long, but just enough of an introduction where vendors can get a glimpse at what your company does and who your end consumers are. It’s important to discuss your company’s pain points during this introduction. When understanding what your company’s pain points are, it can help drive the deliverables and what the vendor ultimately recommends. One of our higher education clients’ pain points was enrolling prospective students for their engineering department. Knowing that, we were able to provide strategic recommendations around a website design refresh and upgraded UX experience. 

  1. Describe your Project’s Requirements In-Depth

The project requirements should all be laid out and specified. For your website design rfp project, you should specify:

  • CMS preferences if applicable
  • Website functionality requirements
  • Website hosting requirements
  • Design considerations
  • References 
  • Multi-language translation requirements if applicable
  • Site search capabilities
  • SEO integration 
  • ADA Compliance Requirements
  • User Roles and Permissions
  • Google Tag Manager/Analytics/Pixel Integration
  • Social Sharing Enhancements
  • Post launch & ongoing support for website maintenance

  1. Define Your Project and Needs

In the scope of work section be very clear about which deliverables are needed to satisfy the response. If there are multiple deliverables be clear if you require the firm to complete some of the deliverables or all of them. For example, some RFPs have the need for a website redesign and development, UX audit, and creative branding refresh. The RFP will mention that firms can bid for any of the components but are not required to bid for all of them. When thinking about your website design rfp, we recommend jotting down approximately 3 websites for inspiration. This will help the marketing agency understand your desired “look and feel.” You can specify what you like about each inspirational site.

  1. Separate the “Nice to Have” from the “Need to Have”

Understand what is negotiable, and what is not. If you would like to work with a certified Small Business or Minority-Owned Business, specify that on the proposal and let viewers know if that is a requirement or simply a nice to have. If it is dire that a vendor applies from your specific state, then specify that only local vendors are being considered at this time. We understand that there are often stipulations when receiving funding from grants and certain requirements must be fulfilled in order to receive the funds. Just be transparent about any agency requirements (such as minimum number of years in business) to avoid agencies spending time applying when they are not eligible for bid participation.

  1. Define your Evaluation Criteria

If you only take away one of our website design RFP tips, this will be the advice to take! By providing vendors with an evaluation criteria form, they can see how their bid/proposal will be scored and can plan accordingly. As noted above, transparency is always appreciated!

  1. Specify Budget

Most companies seem to withhold information regarding the budget. We do not recommend this. When vendors do not understand your maximum budget for this project, you will be receiving bids that are higher than what you initially have planned for. This will waste the time of both your team reading the bid and the vendor submitting the bid. It is always best to be open and honest about the budget allotted for this project. For those vendors who cannot make the budget work, they can move on to another RFP.

BONUS: Proofread and Submit

Make sure to have many people proofread your RFP and submit it to all of your distribution channels like RFPMart or BidPrime. Don’t be shy – feel free to reach out to specific vendors that you would like to apply. They will be flattered and more than likely will submit a bid! 

Best of luck as you move through this strenuous process. If you would like our assistance with your website design project, please send us an email at