Every business needs a website, but not just any old site will do. Your website may be your window to the world but it works both ways – it is also where you showcase what you have to offer. If your new website is not of high quality, nor doing the best job of attracting lots of new business, you will be wasting your money.
Today, it is not enough to simply have a few HTML pages linked together with drab text and images. The world of business and associated websites is highly competitive.
Yours need to stand up to the challenges and be capable of knocking competitors out of the water.
The designer that build your site needs to have a high level of expert knowledge and skill, which is why it makes sense to outsource your website building project to a suitable designer or web agency.
That may sound like an easy task, but don’t be fooled. Think about how many website designers there are in your area, let alone further afield and you will begin to see that you are on the cusp of a big project.
But there is a way around this; rather than spending your valuable time and energy sifting through credentials and gazing with a glazed look at umpteen agency sites, create your very own RFP. A Request For Proposal means that once you have put a document together, the web designers come to you. You send it to a list of designers and ask them to complete it. Once the RFPs come back to you with full proposals given, you use them to consider whether the agencies shown are a good fit for you or not.
How to create an RFP that does the job
Quality attracts quality. If your RFP is not detailed enough and doesn’t give a precise description of your company and what you do, then the bids that come back are quite likely to be way off the mark. Even worse, if your RFP does not exude excellence, you may receive proposals from agencies that are below par.
A good RFP needs to be clear and concise, drawing a picture of what the new site has to do. Once complete, you need to email it to your chosen list of website designers that appear to be a good match for you.
What should your RFP include? Although this is not set in stone, this is what we would recommend you include in your RFP:
- Who you are and what you do. You also need to state the sector within which you operate and your target audience. Remember that the person reading knows nothing about your business so you need to construct a detailed picture about where you are now, your history and where you want to be going forward.
- Overview of the website you want. Take your time and don’t rush this. If you have other people working with you, get them involved in this. It is your responsibility to outline why you need a website and what you need it to do. If it will have an ecommerce element, don’t forget to mention this. Setting these guidelines is essential if the agency is to align their proposal correctly with your needs. Include deadlines, budget and any specific things you are worried about, such as lack of communication or expensive amendments.
- Nitty-gritty of the project. Now you dig down and detail exact deliverables. Use bullet points to illustrate key points like whether or not you need content marketing and branding included in the package. By listing each thing individually you avoid the risk of an agency taking on the work who are not sufficiently skilled to complete the job in its entirety. Include things like SEO and social media marketing or PPC if you need them included.
Receipt of completed RFPs
You now need to wait for the stream of proposals to flood back. It will then be up to you to select the most suitable responses. But how will you know which completed RFP is the one to go with? Take note of our top tips which should help:
- Do they appear to understand your business? If they seem to have a good grasp of what you are looking for and have outlined the solutions and benefits that their website will provide, put them towards the top of the pile.
- Are timings included? As well as being able to do a great job technically, have they been clear about adhering to your deadline? If they have given a full schedule with details of resources used, this is a good sign.
- Knowledge & experience. Look at the background, experience and qualification of the website designer. How many websites have they built before and have they been within your industry sector?
- Detailed cost breakdown. The total cost needs to be broken down with no additional add-ons to come as a surprise. If the price seems too low, find out why and be wary. Have they included a fee for providing you with instructions on how to maintain the website yourself via the Admin section? This makes it easy for you to make changes to prices, descriptions etc. and even add blogs and images.
- References are provided – Any company with a good track record will be able to provide you with feedback and/or testimonials. If they have built a website for a company similar to yours, you may even be able to speak with that particular client.
Creating an accurate RFP is as important as selecting the website designer to go with. Don’t just rely on your own viewpoint of what the website will need to do but get input from others in the company.
Depending upon the size of your business, you may even be able to create an RFP team. Expect to work on the RFP for several weeks, if not months.
As for choosing the supplier to go with, look for added value. Are they local to you if you need to see them face-to-face or if they need to visit your site? Have they included for in-depth analytics or in-built social media links?
Keep in mind what this new website is going to do for your business and don’t get taken up with expensive-looking and showy proposals that may look good but lack depth.