How to Write an Effective Website Design RFP for a Small Municipality

For most municipalities, Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are a common method for finding the best value for services and products.

But in some cases, an RFP can be a costly and time-consuming process. While it’s necessary for some situations, when it comes to finding a web design company, a web design RFP isn’t always the most efficient method.

Soliciting quotes from various web design companies and basing decisions on the price alone can be a dangerous process. These are a lot of other factors that you should take into consideration, to help you find a web design company that’s right for your needs.

Let’s look at a few issues that commonly arise from using a webdesign RFP.

  • High Quotes

The price is often a shocker to most small municipalities. Bids often starts at $15,000 with a $400+ per month hosting fee. The fee often includes things that aren’t needed or even wanted by smaller municipalities. This often comes from municipalities “recycling” the RFP, and using one that includes multiple small and often unnecessary details –which push the price up. For instance –24/7 telephone support isn’t generally required for a small town, although it’s often included on a bid. But there is rarely a need for a small town clerk to call for support late into the night or early on a Sunday morning. While this might sound like a good option ‘just in case’ –it comes at a high price.

Working closely with a web designer, and outlining your specific needs to them will allow you to receive a much more accurate price.

  • Inflexibility

Another thing to consider is flexibility. As a municipality, your needs will likely fluctuate. Once you’ve chosen your winning bid though, unforeseen circumstances could arise. This would be unfortunate since you would then be locked into a contract that didn’t take into account those new circumstances.

With a dedicated website provider, you will have the luxury of being able to change things as your needs evolve. No need to worry about being stuck!

  • Confusion

Another potential problem area with RFPs is that in this format it’s easy for misunderstandings to arise. For instance, having an open forum for discussion is a common area of confusion. What the website design company is quoting for is the open exchange of ideas between the client and the design company. However, clients often mistakenly believe that this means that they will get to have an open forum and a chat room on their website. This misunderstanding could result in disappointment when the website doesn’t include a forum. As a side note though, forums aren’t often beneficial to small towns. There are many other alternatives that offer better outcomes for everyone involved without having to put the time or money into a discussion forum.

Working closely with a web designer allows you to clearly communicate your expectations, ensuring that what you think you’re getting and what you actually end up with are the same thing.

What to Ask

If you decide that a webdesign RFP is the right option for you, it’s important to go about doing it the right way.

What should you do? What should you ask? How do you write it? Here are some steps to get you started.

When it comes to writing an effective web design RFP –there are a few basic things you should do to make sure your message gets across clearly, and to ensure that you receive accurate bids.

  • Clearly define what you are looking for. Give as much information as possible to ensure that the quote that you receive will be accurate, and not just a general quote.
  • Create a strategy for receiving and collecting information from potential vendors.
  • Establish a clear deadline on when you expect to have the bids submitted by. Make sure you stick with this date.
  • Specify the information that you need from the vendors.

You should also be sure to ask a few very important questions that are often overlooked. Questions such as:

  • What is included with the quote?
  • What kind of support is offered?
  • Is there training supplied –is it in person, or remote?
  • Is there a team, or is it the business owner who answers questions?

Asking these questions will help you to receive more accurate bids.

Keep in mind that in some cases, the extent of the RFP process isn’t commensurate with the scope of the project. One excellent alternative to using an RFP is to seek out a quality web developer, one that’s qualified and experienced with web design for municipalities. By finding one, or even several websites that appear to be great matches for your project, and then seeking proposals through them, you eliminate many of the issues that arise when sending out RFPs blindly, to companies that may not be experienced or up to the task.

For more information on website design, contact Town Web Design. We provide websites for municipalities. Get in touch with us today for more information on a website for your town!

Image: markus spiske

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