The Best Framework for a Website Request for Proposal

A great website will work wonders for your business.

A thoughtfully designed website can improve user experience (UX) for more engagement and conversions, increase organic traffic and make for intuitive back-end management. Additionally, a great website can impact your business mindset by increasing confidence in yourself and what you bring to the world, clarity about how you want to show up, and excitement about growing your business.

So, how do you find the right partner to create your new thoughtfully designed website? You need to write an on-point Website Request For Proposal (RFP).

The Website Request For Proposal Process

When you write and publish a Website Request For Proposal (RFP), the document provides a solid foundation for conversations with website companies you’re interested in working with. Those companies will respond with the details you need to make a decision and choose to partner with a stellar website development company.

RFP is a bit of a clunky term, but with this dialed-in document, you ensure that (1) you hire the right website team for your goals, and (2) expectations and costs are clear from the start.

The website design market is saturated. There are agencies, consultants, and entrepreneurs—all offering seemingly similar services. It’s difficult to know which company will be the right fit for your brand and really ‘get’ your vision.

A website request for proposal will help you weed out the companies that don’t align with your vision and style—and connect with the ones that do.

Not All RFPs Are Created Equally

Here at Alchemy + Aim, we’ve responded to many RFPs in our time. We know what it takes to create an incredible website—and the importance of the right client fit. But we’ve noticed that sometimes, companies just don’t ask for the right information when they release a website request for proposal.

It’s not usually a matter of a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ RFP, but a matter of creating one that gets results.

The ultimate goal is to find a partner that gets your vision — and can execute the scope of work (ideally on time and on budget!). To achieve this, you don’t want to write a website request for proposal that’s jammed with unnecessary information. That can just increase the risk of confusing, overwhelming, or deterring prospective partners.

The Best Framework For Your Website Request For Proposal

So you’re ready to put your RFP together — great! If you stick to the framework we’ve outlined below, potential partners will have a clear understanding of what kind of website you’re after, and whether they’re the right fit for your project.

Use this framework to write your RFP, then publish it on your website There are also spots online to publish RFPs, but your best leads will come if you reach out to website companies whose work you love. Share your RFP with business contacts and other marketing partners – they may know about a team that could be a great fit but isn’t on your radar.

#1 Goals for The Website Redo

In the first section of your website request for proposal, you’ll want potential clients to know exactly what you’re after with your new website. Give them a clear idea of what functionality your website needs, what purpose it serves, and the UX of your website. It’s important to be as direct as you can about the core purpose of the project and weave in your values.

Avoid anything wishy-washy. Being direct is key.

Here’s an example of listing your goals:

  • We want a website that increases online sales of our original product.
  • We’re after a clean, minimalistic aesthetic using natural tones and simple functionality.
  • We want our ethos to be clear and for people to be able to understand our offerings, while also being able to purchase them easily.

#2 Key Actions You Want Users To Take On Your Website

Get clear on the purpose of your website and detail this in your website request for proposal. You’ll likely have two key actions you want people to take. The first is typically about driving sales or revenue (people making a purchase or contacting you with the goal to purchase). The second key action is people forming a relationship with your brand even if they aren’t ready to purchase anything. Don’t just drive people to social media — look for ways to get a visitor’s contact information by suggesting they sign up to the newsletter list or getting text messages. Remember, you can always incentivize them with a great freebie (maybe a PDF, ebook, or audio file) or coupon.

#3 The Biggest Challenges Your Business Faces

This is a good opportunity for you to detail the challenges your business has been facing. For example, you might struggle to get people to engage on the website after they sign up for your newsletter or maybe you have competitors and want to better differentiate your company. By clearly outlining the problems your business faces, you’ll offer potential partners greater insight into the scope of the project.

#4 Problems With Your Current Website (If You Have One)

Remember: your current website isn’t serving you and it’s not meeting your needs as your business grows. Website designers are here to help, so there’s no need to worry about sharing the clunky details or the bits that make you squirm! Your website has its faults, and that’s okay. Knowing what doesn’t work helps create a platform that does work for you.

#5 Detail What Pages You Need

As we’re sure you know, there’s nothing worse than taking on a project and discovering there are endless hidden challenges or surprise extra requests. Spend some time thinking about the pages you’ll need on the site. Listing your page needs is a great starting point for potential partners to understand your business and website needs. It also allows for a more accurate proposal to be put together. A great partner will ask you questions about your list and make strategic suggestions to help you improve your site structure.

#6 List the Technical Functionality You Need

The functionality of your website completely depends on your requirements and the ongoing resources you have available. It’s important to list your technical needs. Some common requirements include:

  • Password protected pages
  • Integration between your website and newsletter platform
  • Search functionality for blog posts and pages (or other content)
  • Maps for your locations
  • Contact form or application

#8 Your Website Wish List

This is where you can write down your biggest – and wildest! – dreams. What would you absolutely love to include on your website? Share your wish list so your potential partners can help you achieve all your needs.

#9 Websites That Inspire You (And Why)

We all have websites that we just love to visit. They’re easy to use, allow us to understand their brand better, and are loaded with helpful information. Tell your potential partners what you love. It doesn’t have to be a website that you want to replicate, but just ones that light you up. You might want elements of one and bits from another. When you’re compiling your list, consider branding, colors, flow, user experience, functionality, content strategy, copy, conversion funnels, etc.

#10 Your Project Expectations

Unless your potential partners are mindreaders (unfortunately, that’s rarely the case), they won’t know what working style you prefer. If you want this project to be collaborative with loads of meetings and workshops, say so. If you hate meetings and prefer version handoffs via Loom, be sure to add that to your website RFP.

Don’t Forget to Include:

Here are more details you need to include in your website RFP:

  • Summary of your business
  • The URL of your current website
  • Audience(s) information
  • Information about your team. Who will the website design team be working with from your company?
  • The current hosting information and maintenance structure you have
  • Any legal or compliance needs in relation to your company and this project
  • Ecommerce details, if this applies to you
  • Membership / Logged In User Platform detail (if applicable)
  • List any visual elements your brand already has (branding, photography, graphs or other visual elements)
  • Your brand’s biggest competitors
  • Uniqueness factor (how your brand differentiates from competitors)
  • What you sell/offer
  • The problems you solve for people with your offerings
  • Your budget for the project
  • Timeframe for the project (or key future dates)
  • Proposal requirements: include the due date, submission format, information you want about the company submitting the proposal, location and structure of the company, team members who will be working on the project, and recent projects that are related (including the URLs, process, and approach that was taken)

What Not To Do When Writing a Website RFP

DON’T ASK FOR REFERENCES

While it can be reassuring to ask for references from companies when you write your RFP, we don’t think it’s necessary at this early stage. Speak to the company first, get to know them a little, and see if it’s a professional and energetic fit. If it is, go ahead and ask them for references and/or testimonials, just like you would when interviewing someone for a job.

DON’T OVER-EMBELLISH

As tempting as it can be, try not to over-embellish your website request for proposal. Create your RFP in a Google Doc or Word document and keep it brief and structured. If you dive too deep into design ideation, your message might be lost or muddied.

Finally, Celebrate! You’re One Step Closer To Your Dream Website

It’s not easy creating a new website or refreshing something you’ve become accustomed to. Change can be challenging and overwhelming, but if you pick the right partner, your future self will thank you. All of your collaboration and hard work will result in a beautiful and efficient-to-use new website.