- Organizations distribute a poorly conceived RFP
- Organizations assume web design companies are also strategy consultants
- Organizations expect web design companies to make technology recommendations
- Organizations are ill-prepared for a high-level of participation during the project
- Organizations fail to create a clear post-launch plan
Solving the Problem
Write a Good RFP.
Most organizations make the same fatal mistake when starting their website project; they ask a young, inexperienced employee to create the RFP. A well written RFP begins with an introduction, explaining the problem you’re trying to solve, how much you have budgeted, and what the deadline is. It continues to provide information about your organization that will be important factors to the project’s success. This level of organizational understanding requires participation from the executives and department heads, not an entry level staff member.
Technology projects require additional information that is essential to vendors properly pricing the project, and ultimately avoiding scope creep for your organization.
- Full content inventory (what type, and how much content do you have)
- Content Management System Requirements
- Third party integration (are you using any other web tools? i.e. CRM, jobs module, payment gateways, etc.)
- Technology platform (do you have any technology requirements?)
The results of a well written RFP will provide you customized solutions by each vendor, yet meet your budget, timeline, and address your organization’s needs.
Educate Your Web Vendor Prior to Starting the Project.
Many organizations feel that web design companies arrive at the table with a full breadth of knowledge about your company. This false assumption can lead to many problems during the project. It is the organization’s responsibility to educate the web vendor on the following:
- Goals of the website
- Target audiences
- Internal business processes
- Core competencies
- Content types & relationships
- Competitor set
- Internal resources
If you expect a web design company to really understand your organization without providing necessary information you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Be Educated About Web Technologies
An essential part to any technology project is being educated about what your vendors are recommending for your organization. You will be required to evaluate, and ultimately decide which tools are the best for providing solutions to your company’s challenges. This is a very difficult challenge for most organizations because technologies change so fast, it is nearly impossible to keep up. If you have an IT department, they are a good place to start asking questions. If you don’t have an IT department, hiring an outside consultant might be a good idea.
In the end, you want to be in control of what technologies are best for your company. Make your web vendor defend their technology choices, not dictate them to you.
Be Prepared to be Involved During the Project Lifecycle
You will need to provide clear direction to your web vendor on many aspects of the project. Be prepared to be the lead on the following:
- Content architecture
- Conceptual imagery
- Branding protocols
- Marketing strategies
Unless you have hired an advertising agency, or public relations firm, web vendors many times will look towards the organization for answers to these items.
Create a Post Launch Strategy
Most websites have the exact same lifecycle. They get a shiny new look and feel, get ignored for three or four years, and then get repainted. The vast majority of websites are neglected to the point where they are actually detrimental to the company. To prevent against this, prepare to invest time on your site every month. Update content, change out pictures, post recent company or industry-related news, add new technologies, and commit to on-going Social Media and Search Engine Optimization plans. A website that makes consistent changes over time will be more far successful and produce better results for your organization.
District Agency helps organizations get through the difficult website project process. We tailor our consulting services to the specific needs of you organization. If you’re planning or preparing for a website project, please give us a call: 410-740-9181
Mark Cyphers is a leading IT and web-marketing expert, and the founder and president of District Agency, a vendor-neutral consulting firm.