What to include in a web design RFP, RFQ, RFI

A lot of the work that I do on the side is helping nonprofits investigate and choose vendor partners for major tech upgrades. Website rebuilds, Art Management (Collections) systems, fundraising systems, CRMs, that kind of thing. I frequently get asked what to include in an RFP (or sometimes get asked to write them).

Here is a list of typical content across many of the requests for proposals/requests for qualifications/requests for information that I’ve been part of sending out.

  • A summary of what you’re trying to do.
  • A description of the selection process. How you’re going to pick a vendor partner, and over what time period.
  • Instructions to the candidates–what they should submit and/or present, and how.
  • A history of the website or system–not detailed, but enough so they can get a sense of how you got to where you are.
  • A rationale for the process–what you hope to achieve & why you’re undertaking it now.
  • When relevant, a description of the system and network infrastructure. If you have specific requirements, list them. Are you committed to certain programming languages, frameworks, content management systems, or other software?
  • A description of the staff and other resources devoted to maintaining the site/system.
  • Basic traffic reports and/or other knowledge of users (as an addendum).
  • Some kind of language around what kind of arrangement you’re looking for. E.g., finite in time, extended, etc. Are they just here to build something and go, or do you maybe want them longer?

I also get asked about the process–what should we send out first, do we ask for something on paper, do we ask them to come in, etc. For any project of substantial size, I would do it in two steps. Ask for something in writing first, and allow it to be fairly boilerplate. Then pick a few good matches to come in and present. Ask them lots of questions, but more importantly, answer every question they ask. Don’t hold anything back. Make sure they can do their best.

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