By Jeff Kline


How To Write An RFP For Your 2015 Website

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

An RFP Guide for Nonprofit Organizations and Associations

How to write a request for proposal for your 2015 websiteAre you planning on redesigning your website in 2015? Unless you plan on sticking with your current website provider, you’re going to need to put together a Request For Proposal, or RFP.

Writing a website RFP can be a daunting task, so we've put together a guide and template to help make it a little easier.


What is a Request For Proposal?

An RFP is what you’ll send out to dozens of website design agencies, telling them about your organization and your website needs.

RFPs generally consist of these sections:

  1. General information about your organization and the project
  2. Website design examples
  3. Website functionality requirements
  4. Request for vendor information

The following guide will show you how to fill out each of these sections.



Part 1) General information about your organization and the project

In this first section, tell potential vendors who you are and what you’re envisioning. Disclose project parameters, such as budget and timeline.

What to include:

1) Contact information
Provide your organization’s general contact information, as well as the contact info of the point person managing the website project.

2) Organization overview
Describe your nonprofit organization. What services do you provide, and to whom?

3) Project goals
What do you want your website to do? Don’t worry about details here—this should just be a brief statement to give vendors a general idea of what you’re looking for.

4) Budget
How much are you willing to spend on a new website?

5) Timeline
Provide a schedule for when different steps in the process will take place.

For example:

- RFP sent May 5th
- RFP due May 16th
- Questions regarding RFP may be asked prior to May 15th
- RFP reviews with vendors May 19-23
- Final Decision May 28th
- Website Launch August 11th

*Tip: Set a deadline for when questions about the RFP may be submitted. Once you’ve received everyone’s questions, send one lump sum of answers to the entire group.


Part 2) Website design examples

This is the fun part! Provide a few websites that have design elements that you might like to use on your new website. Describe what you like about them.


Part 3) Website functionality requirements

List the functionality you want for your website. While all nonprofits are different, there are some general best practices in functionality that many organizations choose to include.

I strongly suggest requesting the following items:

Content Management System (CMS)
The website must be built on a content management system that allows for all areas of the site (webpages, images, blogs, forms, etc.) to be easily updated.

Responsive Design
The website must be responsive, so that it seamlessly adjust to fit desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The CMS must include the ability to alter title tags, meta descriptions, alt tags, and headers. The site must be built to be easily crawled by search engines.

Social Media Integration
The site should include the ability for web content to be shared to social media networks. The organization’s social media networks must be linked to the website to allow for easy “follows.”

Contact Forms
The website must include contact forms. When a visitor fills out the form, the message must be sent to the correct staff member.

News and/or Blog
The website must include a robust, built-in news/blog platform. This must enable users to create, edit and publish news articles and/or blogs to the website.

The website company must provide hosting.

Email Marketing
The website company must provide email marketing capabilities that are seamless with the website and have the ability to integrate with current email marketing software. The website company must provide one email template that is consistent with website design.

Website Analytics
Analytics tracking must be integrated on the site to allow for website visitor tracking, page tracking, etc.

Technical requirements
The website must be built using HTML and CSS. No use of Flash. The website must compliant with Mac and PC, as well as with the latest two versions of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

Other additional functionality that might be crucial to your nonprofit includes:

  • Calendar of Events
  • Online Event Registration
  • Member Directory
  • Third-Party Integration (Is there a third-party platform you are currently using that you would like to include in your website?)


Part 4) Request for Vendor Information

This is the section where you request information from the vendor, such as:

Vendor Contact Information
Ask for the contact information of the company AND the individual submitting the proposal. It’s important to know your contact person.

Plan for accomplishing project goals
Gain some insight into the vendor’s plan and vision for your website.

What can they offer within your budget?

Past experience that is similar to the project described
Ask for URLs of previous websites they have developed.

Request at least 3 references.

Development timeline
Prospects will provide timeframes for different steps in the process—“kickoff meeting,” “design mockup approval,” “begin deployment” etc.



A Few More Things...

Before you start putting together your RFP, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1) Should You Ask For A Specific Format?
Sometimes RFPs will include a “Proposal Format” section, where the organization tells prospective vendors how they would like the information presented. The benefit—all of your proposals will be in the same format, making them easy to compare. But be careful—if you get too demanding, you could greatly diminish the number of vendors willing to spend time reformatting their proposals.

2) Keep your RFP under 10 pages.
A long RFP will yield even longer proposals.

3) Be flexible.
Be specific in what you want, but also be flexible and open to suggestions. These web design companies are the experts when it comes to building websites. They might know of a better solution.

4) Target companies with industry expertise.
When sending out your RFP, look for agencies that specialize in your specific market. Just because it’s local doesn’t mean it’s the best agency for you.



Get Started On Your RFP

Ready for a new website? Begin the process today by getting started on your RFP.

Follow the best practices discussed in this post, and download our free Website RFP Template. In return, you'll receive high-quality RFPs from great website companies.

Best of luck on your journey!

Button to download RFP template


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