Effective communication is essential to any successful business partnership, and when engaging someone to build your website, clarity is of utmost importance. So what sort of information should you provide when you are seeking proposals for your project? A website project can take any number of forms, from a few simple designs all the way to a huge complex monster of a website, so it is important to answer some questions for yourself before putting it out there in order to get the quality proposals you are looking for.

A good Request For Proposal (RFP) will detail the goals you have for your website so that the designers can fully understand what you wish to achieve, and why. Equipped with the right information, they will be sufficiently prepared to give you their best (and most accurate) proposal. Here are a few essential things to help you in creating your RFP:

Who are you?

This is to get to know you – briefly introduce your company, what kind of business you do, your company goals, values, and vision, and where your current website can be found, if you already have one.

Project Outline, Goals and Objectives

Why are you looking for a new website? In plain terms, what is going to be involved with your project – will it be a total overhaul, or just a facelift? What specific goals are you trying to accomplish with your new website project? What is your target audience or market? Are you looking to gain more traffic, or to brush up and outdated site, or start selling products online? Be specific.

Technical Information

Knowing technical requirements at the start will save headaches – if you know that your current web server is Linux or Windows, or whether you’re using php or ruby, all the better. If you don’t know and don’t care, that’s great too – it is just important to say this. If I can use the technology of my choice, it can make things that much easier. Also, if you don’t already have a domain or a hosting service, do you need those things to be provided?

being honest about your budget is the best way to get a realistic idea of what is actually possible for your project

Special Features

What sort of technical capabilities do you want to have as part of your website? Are you looking for a simple blog, or do you need something more complex, with a members area or a discussion forum or FAQ section? Is it going to be e-commerce? Do you need a database or a specific Content Management System such as WordPress or Drupal?

What you need from me

This is where you outline what information you are looking for in the proposals you are requesting. You will most likely look for some kind of plan or strategy for the project as you’ve described it above, perhaps some examples of work or other relevant information, and maybe a little extra info to get a sense of who I am and if it will be a good fit to work together. What are you dying to know about me?

Budget

Whether it’s a large or small project, knowing and communicating what you can afford is vital to getting the best proposals possible to fit into your budget. I know, talking about money is something that people tend to avoid, but being honest about your budget is the best way to get a realistic idea of what is actually possible for your project. Many RFPs omit this, but doing so makes it much more difficult to give you an accurate proposal in the end.

Contact information

Who does the proposal go to? Include the name, address, phone number and other important information about the project leader, and in what format you would like to receive the proposal (email, snail mail, etc.).

This is by no means an exhaustive list of Everything You Need for a good RFP, but it will definitely get you started in helping you find the best fit for your web design project. While each project will be different, being able to colour within the lines from the start will give your project the best chance of success. So, armed with your checklist, you are now ready to craft your web design Request For Proposal.