a piece of paper and a pencil on a table next to coffee

writing an rfp in 2020

November 11, 2020

written by
Barbara O Stephenson

Updated for 2020

So you want to build a website? No matter if you use a firm/studio/agency/or a freelancer you’ll save time if you’re prepared with at least a basic set of requirements for your website RFP. And money…. you’ll save lots of money.

A request for proposal, or RFP, is a standard document used to outline those requirements. Not only does this document help organize the process, it makes you a good client and creates a better relationship. Expectation setting is the goal.

Let’s go over the basic set of questions you should know before you start the bidding process with your website RFP. We’re going to put in some of our standard procedures here at 3FO to give you an idea what you should expect from any reputable agency.

1. Why? What’s the reason you want a website design/redesign and why now. Are you adding ecommerce? Updating your brand? Trying to get more conversions?  And you should know why you want a new site before starting anything.

2. What’s your timeline? At 300FeetOut, a typical design + build takes 16 to 20 weeks. The more bells and whistles, the longer it takes.

3. What is your budget? Websites can cost anywhere from $15,000 for a basic starter model and go up rapidly depending on your needs. Do you need a Honda, or want a Tesla?

4. Do you have a brand (logo, etc.) already? Do you want to use it or are you trying to update your brand’s presence? This will add both cost and time to any project.

5. What’s the main goal of the site? Making sure everyone knows the 3 main goals for your new website, listed out in order of importance, is an important part of keeping everyone’s focus on the outcome. You’ll waste so much time if you try to do too many things.

Next, we think about the types of features you want your site to have when it launches. What do you want your website to do?

1. Every website should be responsive so let’s make that an assumption right here. If someone offers you only a desktop experience and doesn’t discuss mobile during your initial call, run to a new developer.

2. Same with Accessibility. If accessibility is not mentioned at the very beginning, then you are working with an outdated firm/developer. You need to seek AA ADA compliance or you’re opening yourself up to lawsuits from users who feel you’re discriminating against them. And it doesn’t matter if they buy from you or not.

3. What about newsletter sign ups, blogs, event listings, chat, calendar functions, etc?

4. How technical are you? Will you be able to make updates yourself on a simple admin or does technology make you freeze up? We build websites that have an admin for content and SEO changes and offer training. I can’t tell you how many times I see websites where staff turnover or poor planning has rendered the website nearly unusable by the client.

5. Do you know what needs to be hooked up? booking engines, form fills, RFPs, HR software, or gated “member’s only” content?  Does it need a better e-commerce platform? Are your buyers on line more than in person?

6. How big do you imagine your site to be? A sitemap will be created during the strategy phase of your project but knowing if you have a 20 page site versus 200 pages will make a substantial difference.

7. Do you compliance of any sort?  Some people have government requirements but all businesses may be subject to GDPR or CCPA compliance Not following those can generate BIG fines if you fail. 300FeetOut always creates a production (that means live) and stand alone development + test sites for updates. We implement cloudflare for backups, speed, and security like https (pssst you need https no matter who you are). We use pantheon to keep things moving at an enterprise level. Make sure you know how and when you’ll be protected by your development firm.


Who do you need? While a designer and a developer are integral to building a site, there are many others involved to consider as well:

1. Do you have photography or do you need to locate a photographer? What about video? It takes hours to do these jobs so most freelancers or firms usually outsource.

2. Do you have a content plan? A copywriter or an editor?

3. Do you need search engine optimization? If you’re expecting to be found on Google without paying for ads, you’ll need SEO. From keywords to google local, it all counts.

4. Adwords and PPC. The fastest way to get found on a search engine is to pay for placement. You can also potentially benefit from remarketing and banner ads.

5. Do you have a social media plan? Making sure your message is located where your clients are to be found is important. What about reputation management?


A few miscellaneous things you should find out about your agency during the selection process will help manage your expectations.

1. How many rounds of revisions are included? The standard at 300FeetOut is to allow two rounds of feedback for every major deliverable.

2. How do they handle third party costs? Do they mark them up?

3. How will the deliverables be handed over? There are tax implications for physical deliverables and you want to make sure you stay within the lines.

4. How will they handle scope creep? It always happens so prepare for it; because every project can always be improved upon during the course of implementation.

5. Make sure you check their references, you want to insure a good partnership.

6. How will they communicate with you? What type of project management can you expect? Our project management system is available to online so you can review messages, timeline, notes,  and goals at any time. We send out weekly updates, have status calls, and make sure you understand every step of our process while we work with you. For a personal touch, we even include a human project manager as well. And if you’re lucky, she’ll tell you jokes.


At 300FeetOut, we build our websites to our own personal set of standards. We’ve developed these practices to make sure that you not only get the best possible product but one that will stand up to the test of time (or at least until the technology requires us to make updates).

Although there are many more questions you can include in your RFP, this should give you a running start.