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A "Request for Proposals" (or RFP) is a document that outlines your project needs to developers, so that they can respond with a proposal and bid for your work. Your RFP will be driven by your concept of the project at the time you write the document, but should include a summary of your goals, your timeline (if any), a description of the scope of the work, and the requirements you have for the project. This information will allow a strong web developer to respond not only with cost and resource estimates, but with ideas for how to serve your goals and a pitch outlining their relevant skills for your project.

Keep in mind that the more detail your RFP provides, the more accurately developers will be able to bid your project. In particular, if you are able to define the scope and boundaries of the project in detail, developers will be able to more accurately estimate the resources they would need to commit the project, and are likely to be able to present you with a lower bid.

A rough outline for an RFP is provided below. If writing an RFP for your project is too daunting at this time, consider hiring a team or individual to help you create an effective RFP. provides consulting services to help clients create RFPs, allowing them to efficiently put their projects out to bid to a number of development firms.

  1. Introduction.
    1. Your Company. (A brief summary of what you do.)
    2. The Project. (A sentence or two about why you are issuing this RFP.)
    3. Proposal Needs. (Your contact person, your timeline for proposals, budget if you have already defined one, and any expectations you have from the proposal.)
  2. Goals.
    1. Project Goals. (If you currently have a web site or product addressing some of these goals, explain their shortcomings, or why you are seeking a change.)
    2. Related Business Goals.
    3. Tests for Project Success.
  3. User Requirements.
    1. Audience Demographics (if available).
    2. Audience Technical Resources. (Computer platform, browsers, plugins, Internet access speeds your audience is likely to have, if you know these, as well as their level of comfort with technology and with the Web.)
    3. Size of Target Audience (if known).
  4. Design Requirements.
    1. How the Site Should Feel.
    2. Adjectives Describing the Design.
    3. Your Competition's Site/Web Products.
    4. (For Redesigns) The Scope of Design Changes.
  5. Functional Requirements.
    1. Functions List. (A summary of functions that need to be built for users during this project, and any salient features for these functions.)
    2. Legacy Systems. (A summary of any legacy systems you have in place or technical requirements that you think will impact the project or project decisions.)
  6. Scope of Project.
    1. Content Summary. (Types and formats to be handled for the project.)
    2. Developer Tasks. (Outline which tasks will be the developer's sole responsibility, which you will collaborate on, and which (if any) will be handled by other companies or contractors.)
  7. Staffing and Operations. (Summarize the staff and/or other contractors who would be involved in this project's creation and maintenance.)

Please direct questions or comments about this document to Bad Donofre at This document may not be reprinted without permission from Bad Donofre. Feel free to use it as a reference point in drafting your own RFPs.


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