Your firm has decided it’s time for a website redesign and you’re preparing the RFP to send to multiple agencies. But before getting too far, this is a great time to pause to make sure you include the vital information that a web development partner would need to put together an accurate proposal. Here are 8 things to consider before diving in.

1. Establish a clear budget.

Determining your budget for the entire website process is very important because there are so many different things that can affect it. Review all of these items before finalizing the budget and sending the RFP. Some of the items to consider include branding, functionality, messaging, copywriting and photography. This will help your prospective web development partner understand what you needs for the website are and what can be done within budget. If your budget is smaller, there is a chance that a few items on your “wish list” might have to wait until a phase 2 of website updates.

2. Determine a realistic timeline.

It’s critical to have a launch date in mind, but be sure it’s realistic, too. When you begin a huge website redesign process, there are many aspects that can shift the timeline to be longer than you might have originally anticipated. Have you considered who will need to approve the designs? Will it be one or two people, or an entire committee? The more people who are involved, the longer it typically takes to get approvals.

Keep in mind that once the website is built, testing, website training, and all of the content entry still needs to happen. All of those tasks (depending on the size of your website) can take up to a month even with one or more people at your firm devoted to the project.

3. Does your firm have brand standards?

Sharing your brand standards with your web development partner is important to do at the beginning of the website redesign process. It will help with early discussions about how the website will look and feel. If your firm doesn’t have brand standards, that’s something to consider adding to the website project RFP. It’s difficult to create a cohesive brand on the website without direction from the overall brand of your firm.

4. Determine what specific functionality the site will need.

Consider the functionality and integrations that you’ll need on the website and include those in the RFP because they can add significant costs. If these items don’t come up until after the contract is signed or towards the end of the project, there will likely be a scope change and extra cost. Possible integrations may include Salesforce form integration, Google Calendar integration, any API’s, or any job listing integration such as Paylocity. The site may also need password protected pages or a client login. Whatever the functionalities are, make sure to have all of these items listed out from the start.

5. Do a content audit.

Content is the reason people visit your website. While it’s important to have images, video and a modern website design, the reason prospects contact you is because of your content and what you communicate. It’s a great idea to do a thorough content audit at the start of the website redesign process to determine what pages of the site can be deleted (ex. a service your firm don’t offer anymore) and what needs to stay. This will also lead into asking, “What content is missing?” That could be a new service area or a more detailed careers section of the site. It’s also a great time to take a look at your blog and identify articles that might be outdated or in need a refresh. Make sure you’re covering the bases so that the new website will be up to date.

6. Review your messaging

Visitors come to a website because of the content, but they stay and convert based on the messaging. After evaluating all the pages of your firm’s website, you might realize that the messaging on your current site is a bit outdated from your firm’s current voice or that it doesn’t accurately reflect the growing and successful firm that you are. If your firm would like help with updating your messaging, be sure to include that in the RFP as well. The goal is to not only have a beautiful website, but to have a website that sounds like your firm and acts as a living, active marketing machine for you.

7. Review the site internally

When embarking on a new website redesign, consider how you plan to include your colleagues in the process. It’s not necessary to incorporate every single person’s ideas into the new site design, but if you do plan to include others’ thoughts and ideas in the process, schedule a team meeting to discuss before putting together the RFP. This could be an opportunity for people share what they like and dislike about the current site, what they find difficult to navigate, and a wish list of items that they would like to see on the new site that would make their job easier. While not necessary, sometimes marketers like to field thoughts and opinions from the rest of their team, or to get initial ideas from the leadership team, and if so, it’s best to hold that kind of meeting before writing your RFP. Otherwise, just keep in mind how you will need to include leadership in decisions and approvals throughout the redesign process moving forward.

8. Take stock of your photography

With an updated website comes updated photography. It’s best to take a look at what you currently have on the website and in your files, and evaluate what photography you will keep for the new site or completely redo. If your office has moved or your team has grown, new headshots and office culture photos may need to be reshot. This is helpful to think about before starting the website so that you can schedule a photographer and get all of the photos back in time to enter into the new website.

Choose the right partner

Once you’ve taken the time to think through all of these important items, your RFP will be much easier to write, and it will give your potential web design and development partners the information they need to provide a detailed proposal and scope. An important part of the proposal process is asking these agencies the right questions to determine who will be the best fit for your firm. A good partnership is just as important as proper planning in order to have a successful website redesign and launch.