October 8, 2019

Tips for Dealing With Agencies When Getting Web Design Proposals

Help ensure your web project's success with these tips for navigating the proposal process and establishing positive, productive relationships with web development agencies. Learn about steps you should take before seeking proposals, how to craft a better request for proposal, and ways to pave the way for good collaboration with your chosen vendor.

Before You Seek Proposals
Internal planning and preparation are critical for finding the best agency for your project, establishing a productive relationship with the chosen vendor, and successfully creating the desired web site. Before involving external agencies, consider the following:

What is the purpose of your web site?
Will you sell your products or services through your site? Are you trying to attract new customers or connect with existing ones? Is the website intended to educate or engage certain segments? Figure out what emotions you're hoping to evoke as well.

What is your budget?
Create a realistic budget for the project. Include ongoing budget allocations for website maintenance and future improvements.

Which staff will be dedicated to the project?
Don't leave it to IT. Technical staff certainly need to be involved, but your website is a marketing and sales tool. Your marketing staff must be an integral part of its development.

From where will you get the content?
Do you have existing content that can be refreshed and incorporated, or do you need to start fresh? Content can include text of copy, photos, videos, and more. What are your resources and sources for original content? Do you need to engage the services of a third party? Decide who will have final approval of all content.

Who is your audience?
Who will be your key visitors? Understand what visitors need from your website so the agency you select will create a website tailored to your target audience's needs.

How to Get the Best Proposals
Craft an effective and detailed request for proposal (RFP), and only consider vendors who respond according to the RFP guidelines. To be most effective, your RFP should:

  • Clarify your web project's goals.
  • Explain the criteria you will use for vendor selection.
  • Articulate details about desired functionality, key deadlines, and contact information.
  • Provide technical and brand guidelines.

More specifically, your RFP should include the following key elements:

  • Project Overview: In this section, include the vital information about your project hat will help vendors to decide whether to submit a proposal. Details should include the budget and deadlines.
  • Company Overview: Introduce your company in one or two paragraphs. Provide enough information to give readers a sense of your business.
  • Your Website’s Audience: Describe your intended audience, which will help determine your website's functionality, user interface, and aesthetics.
  • New Website Objectives: State your website's primary objective, and list any secondary or tertiary objectives.
  • Current Website: Explain what is not working with your current website.
  • New Website Functionality Requirements: Identify functionality that is essential for your new website. Be specific, to help vendors provide a more accurate estimate for you. If your website will involve e-commerce, provide details such as your product/SKU quantity and sales volume.
  • New Website Wish List: List optional functionality and features that you would like, but are not essential and depend on budget.
  • Budget Details: Provide details about your budget, payment schedule, and fiscal year limitations, if any.
  • Proposal Requirements: Outline what responding vendors must include in their proposals.
  • RFP & Project Timeline Details: State the RFP deadline. Inform vendors when to expect a response from you with a decision. Include target website launch date. Remember to be realistic with your dates.

Once You Accept an Agency's Proposal

Negotiate a contract
A contract is essential for setting expectations for turnaround time, website functionality, and allowed revisions. The contract also clarifies deliverables from both parties, and provides legal protections. Negotiate a web design contract that covers the following legal and project aspects:

  • The scope of the entire project, including the definition of the various development phases and acceptance tests after each phase
  • Design elements and functionality that must be included
  • Contract clauses specifying the inclusion of any third-party products and any fees for such products
  • A clause detailing how parties can make changes to the scope of work
  • The website content to be provided by you
  • Ownership and copyrights for any videos, photos, and other content
  • Whether ongoing technical support will be provided, and if so, the associated time frame and costs
  • Who will own the intellectual property rights and copyrights of coding and design elements
  • Schedule of payments
  • Communication protocols

Provide information about your business
Go into as much detail about your business and your target audiences, competitors, offerings, goals, etc. Provide brand assets, text content, photos, and site credentials. Let the designers know of any colors or styles that are not to be used. Make sure you supply everything in a timely manner to prevent delays in the project.

Communicate and collaborate
Understand that web design is a process that takes time and many discussions between you and your web development agency. Multiple reviews of work are likely to take place. Your constructive feedback about what works and why a design does not work will streamline the process. Be open to suggestions and flexible where possible. If the agency requests your feedback or content items, respond promptly.

Trust the professionals
You've hired an agency because of their expertise in web projects. You have selected the designer based on their portfolio and response to your proposal requirements. Let yourself be confident in their skill set. Do not attempt to micromanage the project. Consider their recommendations. Recognize that they know what each step of the development process requires to go smoothly.

Do you need assistance in crafting your company's message or creating engaging content for your web design agency to use? We know a guy.

It's us. We're the guy. You should talk to us 🙂

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