Overview of Your Request for Proposals (RFP)
First off, let’s just agree on the current market rate for a website. Let’s factor in that you don’t know anything about the web for business, and you don’t want to know. You just want it to work and produce increasing your capacity to meet your mission and objectives. What is that cost? $560. Start to finish, hosted for a year, e-commerce-enabled, themed, and branded for you specifications.
So why are bids for websites typically around $5600? Value adds. Companies that respond to your Request for Proposals (RFP) are providing a level of value that they expect you will pay for. Allow me to help you determine what your RFP should have asked for. It’s more basic than you may have imagined. Basic because your needs from the website mirror the needs across your business. The website should make your office run more smoothly. It should increase your revenue. It should provide indicators of success, and provide value to your customers and other stakeholders.
Branding is your first consideration. Your logo begins that process, but the logo is the encapsulation of a business model, a mission, and an ethic. The supportive designs, colors, navigation flow, and security protocols should support that encapsulation. The brand should be consistent, recognizable, and shareable across multiple platforms and devices. It should be seen as functional–indicating some information, activity, or value proposition.
Roll-Out Schedule & Messaging
The opportunity is to create conversation through the roll-out schedule. Take the opportunity to engage your audience in questioning the validity and application of the content on the current site article by article. Lead the readers to new process and behavior patterns in line with the new launch. Much of this process can be captured by user experience observations. Do not just rely on Web 2.0 best practices. Know your members and users. They may have important behavioral differences from the general population.
Consider how the content-management software impacts the user experience. Connect to expected and widely used social media platforms. Encourage searchability. Consider how much your experience needs to be customized for your operations and your audience.
For example, a client wanted to use Woo (an architecture) as the platform for an online training application. Woo does everything the client wants except produce certificates at the end of trainings. This needed to be custom coded. Without this feature, .5 hours per user would have been needed from office staff to produce certificates. This would have changed the pricing calculus. It was worth the custom cost to create a system that reduced office staff time.
You will need to ensure at least four basic architectures on your site. Your RFP should ask for detail about the CMS and plugins your provider intends to use. As well, ask about the ability of the provider to customize and their costs associated.
- Social Interface. The landing pages and visual engagements including linking.
- Blog Interface. The functions and content management system including themes, logo integration, and interactivity.
- Training Interface. The user experience, data capture, process to completion, and certification.
- Bookstore Interface. The user process and carting system along with sale, shipping, and fulfillment notation.
Making Users into a Community
Build in methods for community opt-in moving towards community buy-in. A novel way to create longevity and to diversify content creation is to create sub-groups organized according to certain interests. The deeper you can organize to specific interests groups, the more reason users will have to linger on your site. That’s value to you users.
Include this requirement in your RFP. Providers should be able to articulate the built-in mechanisms that allow for segmenting you user base. The feature should include analytics, virtual spaces, and social media tie-ins that enable intentional segmentation.
E-Commerce & Sales Funnels
Present an initial free offering that is offered in exchange for a level of opt-in. Typically, an email address is the trade currency. Users who value your offerings enough to opt-in may value them enough to purchase them at the right price, convenience factor, and package. You don’t actually care about sales right away. You care about making a connection. The tighter the connection, the longer users will stick around until you produce a product that they want to invest in. Most organizations make the mistake of only indicating their outcome neglecting the process they expect users to follow.
Expect your provider to be interested and provide a solution to your sales funnel. It will include call to action, up-sell, and follow-up capabilities. It should be as simple as entering an email address. Advanced systems are automatically connecting periodically with users.
For example, let’s take a membership association. The explain in their RFP that they seek to increase membership. They don’t articulate the process. A competent provider will map the target population and apply a theory of large numbers. Typically, from any set amount, you can expect a 3% return. The value proposition can increase that response rate to 12% or even 20%. That means you have two issues to address: 1) increase the number of views and engagements, 2) communicate the value proposition succinctly yet powerfully. A competent provider will articulate a plan and architecture for those purposes.
When you are considering a website refresh, don’t just look at the cost. Consider the worth of the site to your business and the return on the investment. A well-done site can pay for itself whatever the price. A competent provider will no only communicate what will be done, but the monetary metrics by which you can evaluate success.