A website RFP might sound like a cryptic acronym, but it stands for the seemingly innocuous "Request for Proposal." When someone sends the latter to a web design agency, the customer gives specifications for what they want on their website. These proposals typically come from businesses asking to build a site from scratch or to revise their existing site.
While this sounds like a good way to communicate, it really isn't. First, it's quite impersonal to send an RFP by email (or snail mail) and expect a web design company to respond. Secondly, it doesn't tap into creating a true relationship that web designers need to have with their customers.
All web design should work on a symbiotic level where each side benefits. By working closely together, the business can make sure they get exactly what they need, and the designer can get a more targeted approach during the design process.
While you'll find a few who give at least some upsides to the RFP process (particularly in whittling down a long list of web designer possibilities), the downsides are numerous.
Look at why you shouldn't bother with an RFP when seeking custom web design.
Creating Two-Way Communication
The best results in web design come when the designer and customer work in-person together. An RFP is far too formal and basically gives an ask-to-do template designs without live input from the customer.
By brainstorming in person, the designer can get a better idea of what the customer wants. Plus, it can help give more definition to the customer's goals and who their audience is. The more questions the designer can ask a business, the more they can hone the design to a specific niche.
Learning Whether the Relationship is a Good Fit
Another benefit to ditching the RFP and meeting live is learning whether the business and designer can really work well together. When a business sends an RFP by mail, they won't know whether they'll have a good working relationship with their design team.
It pays for any business to meet more than once with the designers they choose. This way, they can study mutual personality to assure there isn't any potential of a creative clash. By meeting periodically during a web project, the more each can learn about the other and keep things on track.
Spending Time Serving Clients Over Answering RFPs
Most web designers prefer spending time working with serious clients rather than answering RFPs. Why spend more time than necessary writing back a prospective client who has no intention of meeting?
Focusing on clients who take the time to nurture a good working relationship and give proper information prevents any wasted time. Because web design requires quality time to turn out a top-tier site, any downtime chasing ambivalent leads isn't worth the effort.
The Sell-ability Factor
A web design firm that adheres too much to RFPs might get looked at as a commodity rather than something original. As a result, it could affect a design firm's sell-ability factor in the future.
Even a business seeking a web designer with more standout ideas could think the same thing. Ultimately, many businesses may still send RFPs, simply because they want a website done in a hurry.
The best response to an RFP is to send a blanket statement requesting a live meeting to discuss details. All in all, this opens the door for both sides getting on the same page.
The ideal project for both sides is to take an original approach while creating a strong working relationship.