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6 Minute Read | June 10, 2024

Top Website RFP Mistakes and How to Avoid Them – Part 2

The Request for Proposal (RFP) process is a pivotal yet complex component of website development. RFPs are generally considered a necessary evil both for the organizations that issue them and the agencies selected to respond.

But the process can be improved! In fact, we believe the RFP process can be a positive experience for all involved.

That’s why we want to help organizations avoid common mistakes to ensure they select the best partner for their website needs. And who better to guide you than your digital BFFs!

In Part 1 of this two-part series, we covered mistakes #1-5 that companies make with their RFPs. Here in Part 2, we’re covering mistakes #6-10 to round out our earlier discussion.

This is a high-level recap of the topics we addressed. Watch the video below for the full discussion and check out our Around the Campfire vodcast series for more digital insights and tips for marketers.



Mistake #6: Leaving Out Third-Party Integration Requirements

Describing third-party integration requirements in website RFPs significantly influences the quality of vendor responses and the success of project outcomes. Include as much detail as possible about your tech stack and where you envision integration points to occur.

It’s important to note that a link to a third-party system isn’t an integration, though it’s still helpful to know where you might link out to external systems. For systems where true third-party integration needs to occur, such as creating APIs to an ERP system or donation software, for example, noting that is crucial. Moreover, if an open API is available for integration, stating this in the RFP alongside a link to the documentation is beneficial.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about third-party integrations that you may not have thought about:

  • The impact of integration on user experience is significantly shaped by the consistency of user interface across various platforms. This consistency is crucial in ensuring that users feel comfortable and familiar with the interface, regardless of the device or platform they’re using.
  • Don’t forget about accessibility. Ensuring your third-party systems meet accessibility standards plays a vital role in user inclusivity. Systems that are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, are essential for providing an equitable user experience. By incorporating accessible features, such as screen readers and keyboard navigation, third-party systems can cater to a broader audience, thereby increasing the system's usability and reach.
  • Maintaining brand consistency through customizable CSS in third-party integrations is essential. This customization allows for a seamless visual transition between the main site and integrated third-party systems, thereby reinforcing brand identity and trust. When third-party interfaces are customized to reflect the main brand's aesthetics, user trust increases, which can lead to higher conversion rates.

Giving detailed attention to the user interface, accessibility, and brand consistency in third-party integrations plays a pivotal role in enhancing your website’s overall user experience.

Providing third-party integration details not only aids in reducing the number of questions during the Q&A segment of the RFP process but also enhances the overall quality of the responses received. Without this clarity, there is a significant risk of misalignment between client expectations and vendor deliverables, which can lead to project delays and increased costs.

Mistake #7: Limiting Vendor Communication

Constraints on vendor communication often lead to misunderstandings and suboptimal proposals. Without direct communication, vendors may misinterpret the requirements of your RFP, resulting in inaccurate or varied proposals.

To mitigate these risks, if you’re unable to have direct communication with vendors due to process restrictions, providing as much detail as possible in your RFP will help to compensate. However, we still recommend allowing vendors the opportunity for a call or to submit questions for written response, at a minimum. (In Part 1, we discussed how bidders’ conferences add little to no value to this process. Avoid them when possible.)

Providing opportunities for additional communication helps in receiving well-aligned proposals but also reduces the ambiguity that might lead to costly misunderstandings during the project execution phase.

Mistake #8: Not Developing (or Sharing) Your Evaluation Criteria

Statistics have shown that when evaluation criteria are ambiguous or not well-aligned, responses from vendors vary significantly, leading to a broad range of proposed costs and approaches, which can complicate the selection process.

To mitigate such issues, organizations should develop their evaluation criteria meticulously, ensuring they encapsulate all aspects of the project requirements and align closely with strategic project objectives. This alignment aids in filtering out ill-suited proposals and increases the potential of selecting a vendor that is most likely to meet your needs effectively.

And while it may seem like sharing your evaluation criteria with vendors is like giving away answers to the test, it truly only helps to improve the quality and accuracy of responses. Which will lead to choosing the best partner and ensuring your overall project success. And that’s a win-win!

Mistake #9: Not Adequately Describing Post-Launch Support Needs

The inclusion of post-launch support and ongoing services in website RFPs is often overlooked. It’s so easy (and more fun!) to focus on getting your website designed and live that any support or additional help you may need post-launch gets overlooked. But it’s essential that specific support requirements and expectations are defined as clearly as possible.

Make sure to consider long-term maintenance and support needs so your website continues to function effectively and stays up-to-date with the latest technologies and security measures. This may include regular content updates, digital marketing campaigns, security patches, and technical support, among other needs.

Mistake #10: Not Identifying Other Vendors Working with You on Your Project

If you’re working with other vendors on various aspects of your website project, make sure to include that information in your RFP. This helps responding vendors clearly understand the role they will play in your project, as well as where collaboration points need to occur.

Most vendors are more than happy to work with other partners, but knowing what role those other vendor partners will play up front will help to provide you with more accurate estimates and eliminate unnecessary work for responding vendors.

Final Thoughts

The development of detailed and precise RFPs is absolutely critical to ensuring a successful partnership and website project.

The more detail and clarity your RFP provides, the more accurate your estimates will be, the better your chances of selecting the best possible vendor for your needs, and the more successful your project will be overall.

Comprehensive and well-thought-out RFPs play a pivotal role in minimizing project risks and costs. The correlation between detailed RFPs and the reduction of project risks and costs is supported by statistics indicating that projects with well-defined RFPs are more likely to stay on budget and schedule.

So, while creating a detailed RFP (or better yet, developing one RFP for website strategy and another for design and development) that avoids the mistakes we’ve outlined in this series is time-consuming up front, it’s well worth the effort in the end.

Your chances of selecting the best partner, getting the best estimates, keeping your project costs in check, and ensuring all parties are well-positioned to work toward a successful end result – a user-friendly website that meets your users’ needs and achieves your business objectives – will improve substantially. And that’s worth every ounce of additional effort.

If you need assistance developing a website RFP or are looking for a partner to help with your website project, reach out. We’re happy to help!

Authored By

J.R. Samples

J.R. Samples

Regional Solutions Director

Jim Brophy

Jim Brophy

Group Director, Digital

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<p style="margin-bottom:11px">The Request for Proposal (RFP) process is a pivotal yet complex component of website development. RFPs are generally considered a necessary evil both for the organizations that issue them and the agencies selected to respond.</p> <p>But the process can be improved! In fact, we believe the RFP process can be a positive experience for all involved.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s why we want to help organizations avoid common mistakes to ensure they select the best partner for their website needs. And who better to guide you than your digital BFFs!</p> <p>In <a href="/Blog/Top-Website-RFP-Mistakes-and-How-to-Avoid-Them-Part-1" linktype="8" target="_self">Part 1</a> of this two-part series, we covered mistakes #1-5 that companies make with their RFPs. Here in Part 2, we&rsquo;re covering mistakes #6-10 to round out our earlier discussion.</p> <p>This is a high-level recap of the topics we addressed. Watch the video below for the full discussion and check out our <a href="/AroundtheCampfire" linktype="2" target="_self">Around the Campfire vodcast series</a> for more digital insights and tips for marketers.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" referrerpolicy="strict-origin-when-cross-origin" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KJ_kLvWy0S8?si=LFp0HvutFvK2a3tF?rel=0" title="Around the Campfire - Website RFP Dos &amp; Don'ts Part 2" width="560"></iframe></p> <hr /> <h2 style="margin-bottom:8px; margin-top:24px">Mistake #6: Leaving Out Third-Party Integration Requirements</h2> <p>Describing third-party integration requirements in website RFPs significantly influences the quality of vendor responses and the success of project outcomes. Include as much detail as possible about your tech stack and where you envision integration points to occur.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s important to note that a link to a third-party system isn&rsquo;t an integration, though it&rsquo;s still helpful to know where you might link out to external systems. For systems where true third-party integration needs to occur, such as creating APIs to an ERP system or donation software, for example, noting that is crucial. Moreover, if an open API is available for integration, stating this in the RFP alongside a link to the documentation is beneficial.</p> <p>Here are a few things to keep in mind about third-party integrations that you may not have thought about:</p> <ul> <li><strong>The impact of integration on user experience is significantly shaped by the consistency of user interface across various platforms</strong>. This consistency is crucial in ensuring that users feel comfortable and familiar with the interface, regardless of the device or platform they&rsquo;re using.</li> <li><strong>Don&rsquo;t forget about accessibility</strong>. Ensuring your third-party systems meet <a href="/Blog/Your-Website-Isnt-Accessible-and-Its-Hurting-Your-Business" linktype="8" target="_self">accessibility standards</a> plays a vital role in user inclusivity. Systems that are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, are essential for providing an equitable user experience. By incorporating accessible features, such as screen readers and keyboard navigation, third-party systems can cater to a broader audience, thereby increasing the system&#39;s usability and reach.</li> <li><strong>Maintaining brand consistency through customizable CSS in third-party integrations is essential</strong>. This customization allows for a seamless visual transition between the main site and integrated third-party systems, thereby reinforcing brand identity and trust. When third-party interfaces are customized to reflect the main brand&#39;s aesthetics, user trust increases, which can lead to higher conversion rates.</li> </ul> <p>Giving detailed attention to the user interface, accessibility, and brand consistency in third-party integrations plays a pivotal role in enhancing your website&rsquo;s overall user experience.</p> <p>Providing third-party integration details not only aids in reducing the number of questions during the Q&amp;A segment of the RFP process but also enhances the overall quality of the responses received. Without this clarity, there is a significant risk of misalignment between client expectations and vendor deliverables, which can lead to project delays and increased costs.</p> <h2>Mistake #7: Limiting Vendor Communication</h2> <p>Constraints on vendor communication often lead to misunderstandings and suboptimal proposals. Without direct communication, vendors may misinterpret the requirements of your RFP, resulting in inaccurate or varied proposals.</p> <p>To mitigate these risks, if you&rsquo;re unable to have direct communication with vendors due to process restrictions, providing as much detail as possible in your RFP will help to compensate. However, we still recommend allowing vendors the opportunity for a call or to submit questions for written response, at a minimum. (<a href="/Blog/Top-Website-RFP-Mistakes-and-How-to-Avoid-Them-Part-1" linktype="null" target="_self">In Part 1, we discussed how bidders&rsquo; conferences add little to no value to this process</a>. Avoid them when possible.)</p> <p>Providing opportunities for additional communication helps in receiving well-aligned proposals but also reduces the ambiguity that might lead to costly misunderstandings during the project execution phase.</p> <h2>Mistake #8: Not Developing (or Sharing) Your Evaluation Criteria</h2> <p>Statistics have shown that when evaluation criteria are ambiguous or not well-aligned, responses from vendors vary significantly, leading to a broad range of proposed costs and approaches, which can complicate the selection process.</p> <p>To mitigate such issues, organizations should develop their evaluation criteria meticulously, ensuring they encapsulate all aspects of the project requirements and align closely with strategic project objectives. This alignment aids in filtering out ill-suited proposals and increases the potential of selecting a vendor that is most likely to meet your needs effectively.</p> <p>And while it may seem like sharing your evaluation criteria with vendors is like giving away answers to the test, it truly only helps to improve the quality and accuracy of responses. Which will lead to choosing the best partner and ensuring your overall project success. And that&rsquo;s a win-win!</p> <h2>Mistake #9: Not Adequately Describing Post-Launch Support Needs</h2> <p>The inclusion of post-launch support and ongoing services in website RFPs is often overlooked. It&rsquo;s so easy (and more fun!) to focus on getting your website designed and live that any support or additional help you may need post-launch gets overlooked. But it&rsquo;s essential that specific support requirements and expectations are defined as clearly as possible.</p> <p>Make sure to consider long-term maintenance and support needs so your website continues to function effectively and stays up-to-date with the latest technologies and security measures. This may include regular content updates, digital marketing campaigns, security patches, and technical support, among other needs.</p> <h2>Mistake #10: Not Identifying Other Vendors Working with You on Your Project</h2> <p>If you&rsquo;re working with other vendors on various aspects of your website project, make sure to include that information in your RFP. This helps responding vendors clearly understand the role they will play in your project, as well as where collaboration points need to occur.</p> <p>Most vendors are more than happy to work with other partners, but knowing what role those other vendor partners will play up front will help to provide you with more accurate estimates and eliminate unnecessary work for responding vendors.</p> <h2>Final Thoughts</h2> <p>The development of detailed and precise RFPs is absolutely critical to ensuring a successful partnership and website project.</p> <p>The more detail and clarity your RFP provides, the more accurate your estimates will be, the better your chances of selecting the best possible vendor for your needs, and the more successful your project will be overall.</p> <p>Comprehensive and well-thought-out RFPs play a pivotal role in minimizing project risks and costs. The correlation between detailed RFPs and the reduction of project risks and costs is supported by statistics indicating that projects with well-defined RFPs are more likely to stay on budget and schedule.</p> <p>So, while creating a detailed RFP (or better yet, developing one RFP for website strategy and another for design and development) that avoids the mistakes we&rsquo;ve outlined in this series is time-consuming up front, it&rsquo;s well worth the effort in the end.</p> <p>Your chances of selecting the best partner, getting the best estimates, keeping your project costs in check, and ensuring all parties are well-positioned to work toward a successful end result &ndash; a user-friendly website that meets your users&rsquo; needs and achieves your business objectives &ndash; will improve substantially. And that&rsquo;s worth every ounce of additional effort.</p> <p><em>If you need assistance developing a website RFP or are looking for a partner to help with your website project, <a href="/Contact-Us" linktype="2" target="_self">reach out</a>. We&rsquo;re happy to help!</em></p>
/Northwoods-2020/Hero-Images/Hiker-Looking-Out-Over-Mountains.pngThe correlation between detailed #website RFPs and the reduction of project risks and costs is supported by statistics indicating that projects with well-defined RFPs are more likely to stay on budget and schedule. https://nwsdigital.me/45cr2KW @northwoods #websitesJ.R. Samples/Northwoods-2020/People/JR-Samples.jpgThe authors standing in front of a log cabin with soft, warm lightinghttps://ctt.ac/2pRXQ<script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//js.hsforms.net/forms/embed/v2.js"></script><script>hbspt.forms.create({ region: "na1", portalId: "23630176", formId: "40c5bbae-05a2-42ea-94dd-1662181fd56e" });</script>/Northwoods-2023/Blog/Social-Cards/Top-Website-RFP-Mistakes--How-to-Avoid-Them-Part-2---Social-Card.jpg?LargeTop Website RFP Mistakes and How to Avoid Them – Part 22024-06-10T00:00:00/Northwoods-2023/Blog/Social-Cards/Top-Website-RFP-Mistakes--How-to-Avoid-Them-Part-2---Social-Card.jpgIn this final installment of our two-part series, learn about some of the most common mistakes organizations make in the website request for proposal process and how to craft RFPs that lead to more successful partnerships and more effective websites.403708/People/JR-SamplesJ.R.SamplesRegional Solutions Director<p>J.R. has a rich, decades-long history of professional services and technology experience, driven by his fascination with the business results tech can enable. His interest lies in solving complex problems and creating ROI-based opportunities for multi-million-dollar companies. J.R. holds several professional certifications, including Six Sigma, Predictive Index, and Karras Negotiating and he focuses his efforts on avoiding guesswork and ensuring real value to the client. Beyond Northwoods, he finds joy in motorcycling, solo backpacking adventures, scuba diving, and reading, and he shares his time with an orange tabby named Benny and loyal German Shepherd Bomont.</p>J.R. Samples/Northwoods-2020/People/JR-Samples.jpgJ.R. SamplesAdd-In Type - NWS Data ModulesCategory - NWS Data ModulesCommittee - NWS Data ModulesDivision - NWS Data ModulesEvent Audience - NWS Data ModulesEvent Service - NWS Data ModulesEvent Type - NWS Data ModulesLocality - NWS Data ModulesModule - NWS Data ModulesNWS Data ModulesTopic - NWS Data ModulesPackage Type - NWS Data ModulesPersonID - NWS Data ModulesJR SamplesProductVersion - NWS Data ModulesRecorded Webinar TopicsRegion - NWS Data ModulesSite Display - NWS Data ModulesSkillLevel - NWS Data ModulesTopic - NWS Data ModulesVideoAudience - NWS Data ModulesVideoClassification - NWS Data ModulesVideoStatus - NWS Data ModulesTeamAll StaffSales/Mktg362098/People/Jim-BrophyJimBrophyGroup Director, Digital<p>Jim has been with Northwoods since 2010, providing digital marketing insights, solutions, and direction informed by decades of experience. His specialties include B2B web strategy, digital marketing strategy, and UX best practices, and he oversees Northwoods&rsquo; customer satisfaction initiative, True North, ensuring every client is on the right path in their digital journey. Away from the office, Jim loves golf, hiking national parks, and movies (especially sci-fi), and is a devoted sports fan, with a different team hat for nearly every day of the year. He also volunteers for the Milwaukee Symphony and is a past member of the Atlanta and Milwaukee Symphony Choruses and The Southeastern Savoyards, a professional Gilbert &amp; Sullivan repertory company.</p>Jim Brophy/Northwoods-2020/People/Jim-Brophy.jpgJim BrophyAdd-In Type - NWS Data ModulesCategory - NWS Data ModulesCommittee - NWS Data ModulesDivision - NWS Data ModulesEvent Audience - NWS Data ModulesEvent Service - NWS Data ModulesEvent Type - NWS Data ModulesLocality - NWS Data ModulesModule - NWS Data ModulesNWS Data ModulesTopic - NWS Data ModulesPackage Type - NWS Data ModulesPersonID - NWS Data ModulesJim BrophyProductVersion - NWS Data ModulesRecorded Webinar TopicsRegion - NWS Data ModulesSite Display - NWS Data ModulesSkillLevel - NWS Data ModulesTopic - NWS Data ModulesVideoAudience - NWS Data ModulesVideoClassification - NWS Data ModulesVideoStatus - NWS Data ModulesTeamAccount DirectorsAll StaffSales/MktgStrategistsAdd-In Type - NWS Data ModulesCategory - NWS Data ModulesCommittee - NWS Data ModulesDivision - NWS Data ModulesEvent Audience - NWS Data ModulesEvent Service - NWS Data ModulesEvent Type - NWS Data ModulesLocality - NWS Data ModulesModule - NWS Data ModulesNWS Data ModulesTopic - NWS Data ModulesUX & Website DesignUX & Website StrategyWebsite DevelopmentWordPressPackage Type - NWS Data ModulesPersonID - NWS Data ModulesJim BrophyJR SamplesProductVersion - NWS Data ModulesRecorded Webinar TopicsRegion - NWS Data ModulesSite Display - NWS Data ModulesNWS DigitalSkillLevel - NWS Data ModulesTopic - NWS Data ModulesVideoAudience - NWS Data ModulesVideoClassification - NWS Data ModulesVideoStatus - NWS Data Modules02024-06-10T00:01:04.12300