RFP season has been extended it seems due to the Corona Crisis. While March was very quiet we are seeing an uptick in the number of RFPs being sent, in the more recent weeks. It is good to make an overview of the reasons people make RFPs and how you should structure yours..

Some web development companies argue that RFPs are worthless, but we disagree. While many variables may arise during the discovery phase, an RFP helps us find the best fit for your organization, your web development budget, and your priorities.

Elements of a great RFP for Web Development

As you may imagine, common and vague requests like “Make us a website!” limit our ability to assess a project. So, to help you, our potential client, make a great RFP, we recommend you:

Describe your organization and the pain or problem you are experiencing

This might be obvious, but we would love to understand your organization. First, describe your organization in detail. Are you a charity? For-profit? What products or services do you sell? It is always helpful for us to learn about the goals and core values of your company.

Parrolabs works primarily with medium to large organizations in the public and private sectors. At times we work with startups, as they can often be technologically challenging. Based on your organization, we can determine whether your RFP is a good fit for us.

After introducing us to your organization, describe the needs or problems you have. You might be in need of a new mobile app or website because of recent changes to your business or target market. Perhaps there are some challenges your current website faces (e.g. not enough sales), or maybe you are interested in switching platforms (e.g. Magento to Shopify). Whatever it is, we would love to know.

Here’s a great example of an RFP intro:

NASPAA is a small nonprofit 501(c)(3) membership association with 302 institutional member schools at US and non-US universities that award degrees in public administration, public policy, public affairs, and related fields. NASPAA has members in 21 countries across the globe. Founded in 1970 and incorporated in 1977, NASPAA serves as an international resource for the promotion of excellence in education and training for public service. As the organization grows to take on new challenges and ambitions, NASPAA is expanding its focus and activities internationally. In order to pursue NASPAA’s strategic initiatives of being an authoritative source of data and expanding globally, NASPAA will depend ever more heavily on our website to communicate across the globe and reflect our values and capabilities.

Describe Your Target Audience

You might wonder why this affects the price of an RFP, or why you might want to include this. There are distinct differences between websites marketed to accountants than to teenagers, for example.

It is important to have your target audience in mind. The more detail you can provide about your target audience, the more effective we can be in captivating them. It should go without saying, but your target market may include more than one specific demographic. Also, don’t forget to describe your audience’s geographic locations.

Here’s a good example of what we are looking for:

We Lose Fat Quickly Fitness Centers have locations all over Colombia. With this app, we hope to target 18-35-year-olds who own a smartphone and use it to track their fitness progress.

An Overview of the Content of your Site, or a Sitemap

Some might call this a sitemap, however, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a sitemap file. The most important thing is that we get a clear overview of what you show, or want to show, on your site. This is especially important if your primary goal is to educate people or provide information. For e-commerce or service sales, it is important to structure the information you want on your site. If you can do this step in an RFP, it provides us with the clarity that our proposal will need.

Describe your project Goals and Intentions

An important aspect of the RFP is including what you are currently working on, and what needs to be built. As always: the more details, the better.

Here’s a reasonable example for a website redesign RFP:

We seek to build an interactive, mobile-friendly, and multi-lingual website in two months that will allow users to register for a Dance Parade in their country. Each city should have administrative access to view and edit the data in a relational database such as Google Sheets. The overarching aim of this project is to create a visually attractive yet trustworthy website to dancers and potential funders with user-friendly and efficient navigation. The content management system needs to be built in a way that local cities and non-technical staff can update logos and other parade year-specific data. As a non-profit website, credibility is key and it is imperative that the site be representative of “clean and clear” information. The website needs to allow for parade registration of groups and individual dancers, including eCommerce to pay the Group Registration fees. Then in addition to that, there should be an easy way to disseminate or distribute the form entries out to preferred services one of which could be Google Sheets, which is easy to share with multiple staff members. It is anticipated that the first phase of site development will entail the design and layout of the homepage and overall site design. The second phase will allow parade registration in New York City and the third phase will be complete with an instruction guide to train staff.

In addition, this client could have thought about describing:

* Who does what? Is the vendor responsible for everything?

* What technologies do they currently use, or want to use? If there are specific requirements or current systems, it is important to describe those early on to avoid potential tech incompatibilities during the build process.

* Do any of the following need to be considered during the process?

* Content strategy

* Copywriting

* Illustration

* Information design

* Visual design

* Search engine optimization

* Front-end coding

* Back-end coding

* Custom software or app development

* Mobile device optimization

* Testing & quality assurance

* Paid search placement/advertising

* Software training

What is the Scope of the Work?

Here, you will have to be very specific. You might be sending an RFP for a redesign, but perhaps you don’t need your site content to be rewritten. Or maybe you’re looking for a full-service firm -- in that case, you must describe the specific services you require.

Consider these elements (at least):

* Project Management

* Design

* Front-End Development

* Back-End Development

* Site Architecture

* SEO

* Device Compatability (Think iPhone, iPad, Android, IOS)

* Quality Assurance (QA)

* Hosting

* Email Services

* Online Marketing

* Integrations with the rest of your architecture

Technical Requirements

This is something many people struggle with. We prefer our clients to be very specific. Sometimes, we receive messages like this:

Our current platform is based on the CMS Wordpress and it is assumed that we will continue using Wordpress, but we are open to any other CMS that fulfills our requirements.

If you plan to build in Wordpress, this would be fairly sufficient. However, if you are seeking possible recommendations on an alternative CMS (as most professional services firms prefer), your requirements and priorities are unclear. It’s always better to include them in specific terms.

Specifications we usually ask about include:

Hosting

Some of our clients prefer to do their own hosting, while others leave that up to us. We are flexible, but if you request our hosting services, please let us know how much traffic your current application gets, or how much you expect. Also, let us know where your primary audience is located so we can optimize the server location.

E-commerce

Do you need us to implement e-commerce software? If so, please specify which platform you would like. For example, [Shopify](http://www.shopify.com), Magento, and BigCommerce (disclaimer: we are a partner), all offer e-commerce solutions and each differs in focus and capabilities.

If you don’t have a preference, please list a set of requirements that you have for an e-commerce platform. These are some common requirements:

* Integrations with existing Accounting Software

* Integrations with Mail Applications (for sending packages)

* Integrations with Marketing Applications

* Your preference for hosted environment (e.g. Shopify)