How to Select the Best Website Design RFP Response

Eric Kazda  |   May 30, 2018   |  Posted in Tips

Website redesigns can be overwhelming. The success of the project often depends on picking the right vendor. One of the best ways to narrow down appropriate web design agencies is through their responses to your RFP. Discover how to evaluate RFP responses based on vital components – and the red flags you should watch out for.

Step one: Write a professional website design RFP

You won’t receive qualified, professional responses unless you send out a professional proposal. The first step to attracting the right agencies is to step up your RFP writing game.

Find out how to write a professional website design RFP here.

Once you’ve sent out the best possible RFP, it’s time to evaluate the responses.

Red flags to look out for in vendor responses

1) The RFP response wasn’t submitted within the requested timeframe.

2) The RFP response wasn’t presented in a professional manner.

3) The RFP response was not well written and contained many grammatical errors.

4) The RFP response didn’t address all of the website design requirements you asked for.

5) The RFP response didn’t pay attention to your budget limitations.

6) The RFP response doesn’t include any kind of project timeline.

If a website agency isn’t able to respond to your RFP without raising a few of these red flags, they probably won’t be a good fit for you. These response elements show the agency’s professionalism, timeliness, and ability to listen to your needs. Remove any agency responses that raise these initial red flags. You can then focus on qualified vendor responses.

Vital components in website design RFP responses

All of the RFPs will have their own unique design, layout, and length. While they will all be slightly different, look for these basic components in all of the responses. These components will give you solid evaluation criteria and a way to compare the vendors to each other.

Project Overview

Just like your RFP provided a 10,000-foot view of your desired project, the vendors should give a basic overview of their plan to complete your project.

Project Management

What tools will the agency use to structure and organize this project? What team members will own the project and how will they ensure deadlines are met? Project management is vital because it provides accountability.

Content Management System (CMS)

All agencies should include what basic system they plan to build your website on. You may have requested a specific CMS in your RFP or let it open-ended for the agency to pitch one.

Our favorite CMS is WordPress – find out 5 reasons why we love it here.


The agency should provide a list of what components will be delivered on the site by the time it goes live. These could include templates, content migration, plugins, etc.

Content Migration

If you already have a website, how does the agency plan on migrating that content to the new site? Will all the content be migrated or just some elements? This defines the scope of the content migration at the start, so the budget accurately reflects the amount of time they will need to put into it.

List of Functionality Included

In your RFP, you should have included a list of functionalities needed for your new website. The responses will touch on each of these requirements and adjust the budget accordingly.

Image Selection

How does the agency acquire images used on your site? Who will own the images? Will the images be optimized for SEO? Do you want custom photos taken for the site? All of these questions should be answered in the RFP response.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO is a vital component of every successful website. The vendor should include how they plan to optimize your site for organic search rankings. These elements could include keyword research, page optimization, meta tags, and 301 redirects.

3rd Party Integration

If your website will need to communicate with outside parties for necessary data and system integration, this should be mentioned in the response. The response should include what 3rd parties will be utilized and who’s responsible for the data integration.

Project Timeline

While the project overview covered the 10,000-foot view of the project, this section should include necessary milestones and deadlines. This timeline will ensure that the vendor meets your desired launch date.


The vendor response will include their expectations for payment. There might be a deposit, or small payments due at each vital milestone. They should also list any expenses that might not be included in the overall payment – like hosting fees or image ownership fees.

User Training

How will the agency train your employees to use the CMS? Content management systems have become incredibly intuitive, but it will still be important to get initial training from the experts.

Maintenance & On-going Support

These elements could translate to monthly retainers that continue after the website goes live. Every website will need fine-tuning and may develop bugs. These maintenance agreements will provide necessary software updates and as-needed assistance. You may have the option to pay by monthly retainer or at an hourly rate.

RFP request for proposal icon illustration vector bidding procurement process drawing

Trust your gut

A vendor may sound perfect on paper, but you don’t click with them in-person. It’s important to take into account the vendor’s personality and your corporate culture. You will be working closely with this team over many months on an incredibly important project. You want to make sure that they get you and you’ll feel comfortable working together.

We go more into finding the right web designer in this infographic.

Pick your vendor

Once you’ve found the team you want to work with, you can start negotiating the contract and final details.  Focus on resolving any remaining questions and making sure you are both on the same page.  If negotiations fall through, make sure you have a second-choice agency selected so the process can continue unhindered.

Now that you know how to effectively evaluate responses to your RFP, you have a much better chance of picking a qualified vendor for your major project. Good luck!

Web design concepts
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Eric Kazda

Eric Kazda is a leading expert in the interactive development industry with over fifteen years of experience. With a mastery of critical development technologies, Eric has crafted innovative award-winning work for clients both large and small. Coupling this knowledge with a real world understanding of usability and technological feasibility, his work is developed to be accessible by every user.

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