Developing and managing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a website redesign is both an exciting and stressful process. Exciting because, as the company seeking proposals, you’re about to get what you need to launch an impactful website. It’s also stressful because you might not know how to decipher a qualified partner — from an inexperienced vendor. You’ll be working closely with each other to see your project through. Trust is essential.
So, how can you be sure you’re picking the right partner for your website redesign? Below are the tell-tale signs to watch out for:
Potential partner red flags
1. The Vendor doesn’t ask many questions during the Q&A portion of the RFP process
A truly strategic partner will have questions — lots of them. They’ll want to understand the following:
Each and every one of your project goals
How you measure your website’s success
Any strategic activities you’ve done to date (so they have a starting point)
They’ll also have questions to better understand the scope and expectations, all aimed at helping them develop a solid proposal. No questions means you’ll likely get a canned approach that doesn’t keep your unique design and development goals top of mind.
2. The Website Vendor doesn’t provide a detailed timeline in the proposal
A timeline tells a lot about a potential website partner or vendor. It lets you know all of this:
The level of detail that goes into their planning
The kind of commitment they’re willing to make to your business
The commitment they need from your company for a successful outcome (like the number of days for review and feedback)
Any potential risks to completing the project successfully
Often times, timeline expectations are overly optimistic in RFPs. A detailed timeline will show if it’s doable. A verbal “Yes, we can do that” won’t. Those with a solid program management discipline focused on enterprise website projects will do the upfront work to include a detailed timeline in their response.
3. The Vendor provides an “all-in” proposal
“All-in” web redesign proposals with fixed fees for every phase aren’t possible to quote from an RFP standpoint. If a company decides to go this route they can expect a considerable number of assumptions and exclusions. It leads to tight scope management, which creates tension for you and your partner. Instead, we recommend breaking the website redesign into three phases: Plan, Design, and Develop. This allows for accurate planning from a scope, budget, and timeline perspective — which in turn results in expectations met and a happy partnership.
4. The Vendor lacks the cross-channel marketing and design experience your redesign requires
There’s nothing wrong with specialized agencies. In fact, they probably do that one thing really well. But when your RFP is for a website redesign or build, your potential partner has to have cross-channel marketing knowledge. If you receive a proposal from a single-service or specialized vendor (like a development-focused agency), make sure they design and develop websites to perform well for SEO, paid media, and have an analytics tracking plan to assess the site performance post-launch.
If you don’t get a sense they can meet the cross-channel planning needs but really like them for their development skills, you could bring in a partner to do the planning and design of the website — and have your development partner execute from there.
For extra tips to ensure your redesign goes smoothly, check out our 7 Things to Include in Your Website Redesign blog post.
5. The Vendor commits to a quick timeline driven by large development teams
A large amount of resources dedicated to your project may seem appealing, but it’s often a recipe for poor results. Each developer will be writing code — and all code is not created equal. Quality management becomes critical to ensure the codebase you end up with is maintainable, scalable, and has longevity.
The larger the development team, the more critical it is to include standards definitions, a shared and used pattern library, and code reviews in the development process. Having a shared set of expectations makes it easier to update existing features and add new features post-launch. This saves you time and the costs of an expensive rework and troubleshooting from code inconsistencies.
6. The majority of the Vendor’s project team will come from offshore resources
Offshore resources, if evaluated and managed to quality standards, can have enticing benefits, like low cost and a 24-hour work cycle that reduces a timeline. But far too often, resources aren’t managed for quality and the output is a codebase that isn’t manageable, secure, or scalable post-launch. As a client, you typically don’t see the codebase. Instead, what you’ll experience from a poor-quality codebase are issues like these:
Unless they know their team members by name, have worked with them for years, and have glowing client references, it’s best to steer clear of a partner who staffs their projects with more than 50% in offshore resources. Not only is quality a concern, but time differences make oversight, collaboration, and communication quite the headache.
Tip: You can always evaluate a potential partner’s team by looking at their company LinkedIn page, noting where their team members are located.
7. The Vendor doesn’t challenge you in the RFP process
When it comes to your website it’s important to work with someone who is transparent and a proactive communicator. If your timeline or budget isn’t feasible, you should know and the right partner will tell you. A vendor focused on being a trusted partner that delivers on objectives and goals will challenge your expectations, scope, budget, timeline, and thinking at times. That said, it’s important to find a partner that doesn’t just challenge you, but also provides solutions. Look for a partner that has your best interest in mind by being honest and solution oriented.
8. The Vendor does not invest in Project Management
After nearly 20 years of building websites, Red Door’s post-mortem review process has found that the sucess or failure of a project most often comes down to project management. Project Management is a discipline and craft of its own. The value of a great project manager, with a focused expertise in managing enterprise websites, will ensure you achieve a functional website in the most efficient and effective way.
How can you spot a vendor that invests in program management? Ask them about their project management discipline. The right partner will be excited to talk to you about project management and provide examples of how they successfully plan, monitor, and execute website redesigns for other clients.
Tip: They can get extra points if their project managers are PMP certified. This means their team has a strong focus and commitment in this practice area.
With decades in web-specific RFP management, we know the right questions to ask when looking for the perfect redesign team:
Questions to ask a potential partner about their RFP proposal:
What project management standards and processes do you use to ensure the project is managed effectively, efficiently, and kept on track from a timeline perspective?
Are your project managers PMP-certified?
What are the biggest assumptions and exclusions in your proposal?
What are the risks in your proposal?
Where do you see most website redesigns go wrong? How do you proactively prevent that?
Do you use offshore resources? If so, what roles, how much of the team will be staffed using offshore resources, who are the individuals, and how long have you worked with them?
How do you ensure code quality and consistency?
How do you ensure that the website is optimized for performance (i.e., SEO, paid media, and analytics)?
The perks of partnering with Red Door
One of the best things about our approach to RFPs is that it’s not just a sales team developing the proposal and pitching to you. You also get the input of design and development experts within the agency who execute the day-to-day work for our clients.
If you need help managing your RFPs or would like Red Door to participate in one, please reach out – we’d love to hear from you!