How to Write a Website Design RFP

A website design RFP (request for proposal) is where you send a document to several website design firms for the purpose of them all competing and bidding for the chance to work with you. An RFP can range from being just a few pages to as many as 20 to even 100 pages, which depends on the scope and complexity of the project.

Who needs a Website Design RFP?

Not everybody needs to put together a website design RFP. However, if your project is in the $10,000 or above range and or you are looking to work with a large agency, then your best bet might be to use an RFP.

RFPs are a more formal instrument, and because of this, they are more suited for corporate or government websites.

Who doesn’t need a Website Design RFP?

If on the other hand you have a budget under $10,000, or your company culture is more relaxed, you may not need a website RFP  to choose the right design firm. For most small to medium-size businesses, simply filling out the contact form on the website design company’s page and initiating a telephone call is all you need to do to get the ball rolling. During this phone call, the design firm can typically get a sense of your needs and then send you a proposal based on the needs and goals determined in your phone call.

What Type of Experience Do You Want?

When it comes to submitting an RFP, the question you want to ask yourself is what is the experience do I want? Designing a new website is ultimately a creative process that involves discovery, intuition and outside the box thinking. Some RFPs can seem daunting and intimidating meaning that they are more likely to be completed by more business-oriented design firms rather than truly creative companies who might be put-off by the laborious effort of filling out a 10 page RFP.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that most people do not need to put together a formal RFP when initially contacting a web design firm. A one-page email detailing your specific needs for the project is often all you need to get the ball rolling. Also, one last thought: the best indicator of the quality of work that a firm does is in their portfolio. Beware of a great proposal from the firm that has a mediocre portfolio. At the end of the day, you’re looking to get any website, and if the websites delivered previously by this firm aren’t great, the chances are that yours won’t be either

Topics to Cover in an RFP

With all of that being said, if you decide to move forward with your RFP, you want to cover the important topics. Below is a list of things you might want to ask. Again, don’t go overboard, but be specific with exactly what it is you’re looking for in a new site, and exactly who you’re looking for in a firm.

“I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who.” Rudyard Kipling

  • Who
    • Who are you?
      • What does your company do?
      • Where are you located?
      • How many people work at your company?
    • Who are you looking for?
      • A large agency?
      • Local design firm?
      • Single man shop?
    • In the RFP, you may ask the firm to describe themselves and include the following:
      • Company history
      • Number of employees
      • Employee Bios
      • List of references you can contact
  • What
    • What kind of site are you looking for?
    • How much is your budget for the project? (larger design firms typically don’t take you seriously if you don’t have a budget in place)
    • Also, what type of design?
      • Show examples of other sites with the design you have in mind
    • What functional requirements do you have?
      • CMS – Do you need a Content Management System?
      • Will the site require a backend database?
      • Will the site require payment processing?
      • Are there other features you need? Reference other websites to describe the function you have in mind
    • What features do you want to include?
      • Responsive Design
      • Search Engine Optimization
      • Home Slideshow
      • Contact Form
      • FAQs
      • Email Signup
      • Gallery
      • Video Integration
      • Custom Map Integration
      • Blog
      • Social Media Integration
      • Payment Processing
  • When
    • What is the deadline for receiving questions from the designer?
    • When will you need the proposal submitted?
    • Also, when will the project commence?
    • When do you anticipate launching?
  • How
    • How many pages will the site be? (very important for the designer to be able to clearly define the scope of the project)
    • How many page templates will the site have? (a page template is a group of pages with the same design and layout but with different content)
    • Also, consider how many people from your organization will be involved.
    • And how many rounds of revision will you need for the project?
  • Why


If you’re wondering what format you should use for the RFP, a simple Microsoft Word doc will suffice. Some people use Google Docs or a PDF, which are both fine too.

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