(This post has been revised from a previous version posted in 2014)
For many organizations, issuing an RFP for a new website can be as exciting as it can be fraught. Often, it first depends on getting budget approved and then can end up feeling a little rushed. Certain areas of consideration aren’t always as thought through as well as they could have been.
With that in mind, we wanted to share a few areas for consideration for you and your colleagues as you begin to start thinking about what you want and need in your new website, and how you communicate that in your RFP:
As CEO of a digital agency (Taoti Creative), the most important thing I do is hire people. We’re in the business of custom solutions, so our work is only ever going to be as good as the people doing it, so getting top notch people is directly related to our success—much more so than I think a lot of people realize. That’s why I still do most of the hiring myself, despite a lot of people telling me that I need to let an HR person do this stuff. As we have grown and attracted more of a following, our job ads tend to be more fishing with a net than hunting with a rifle. A single ad recently yielded over 300 applications. And I take personal pride in responding to everyone who applied, one way or another. I think it’s just respectful, frankly. But it also forces me to look at everyone, even if just very briefly. And I’m glad I do because there are some real diamonds in the rough now and then.
A recent prospect responded to my inquiry about the project budget with this:
We can’t release budget information as we need all vendors to bid their best price. If they know the budget they just bid right up to it.
I’ve always known that is the fear, but in the thousands of website projects I’ve pursued over the years, I think that is the first time a potential client was ever that forthright about it. However, it’s an unfounded fear. In a competitive situation with 6-50 firms proposing, we all aren’t going to peg our proposals at the top of the budget. Without a budget, those 6-50 vendors aren’t even proposing on the same solution. They are proposing on their perception of what they think you want for a solution. That is why you’ll get bids ranging from $25K – $250K from the same RFP.
Occasionally we are asked to provide “initial designs” as part of a proposal for a website design project. I can understand how that seems like a useful request. However, it doesn’t help the client pick the best vendor to build the website, and it doesn’t help us make the case that we are the best choice to develop the site.
Design is not an isolated task. It’s one step of a complex and muti-faceted discovery & architecture process that we go through with clients.
We frequently work with clients that are new to Drupal. We’ve compiled this list of common Drupal terms to help them understand us. This stuff is like our second language, and we sometimes forget that node is actually not an intuitive term for a piece of content.
The challenge: you want a web developer who is responsive, flexible, always bringing new ideas to the table, etc. But you want your project done for a fixed fee and a set deadline. You see the rub: a project with a flexible scope is not exactly conducive to a fixed budget. Traditional (“waterfall”) methods fall short because they presume you know everything there is know about a project up-front. And no amount of discovery and planning is going to negate the good ideas that come up along the way. So ‘they’ invent the “Agile” methodology to address that. The Agile Manifest is basically four basic values:
This is of course one of the most common questions we’re asked. And, of course, there is no simple answer (you didn’t really expect there to be one, did you? 😉 Firstly, let’s set some parameters to narrow down the elusive answer to this question: You can spend anywhere from a few dollars to a few million dollars. At the very low end ($5-$1000 for a website), you have hobbyist web designers that aren’t really professionals most of the time. And of course, you’re going to get what you pay for. At the very high end, you have mega companies that charge 7 and 8 figures. But to call a project like that a ‘web design’ isn’t really fair. Those are typically all-encompassing systems that are beyond the scope of this article. A professionally designed website from a reputable, established web design firm will typically run anywhere between ‘a few thousand’ and ‘low six figures.’ That still doesn’t help you, we realize.
Keep Your Passwords Secure If you are a client of Taoti, hadn’t changed your password in a while or if your password was easy to guess, and got an email from us to change your password, it’s because security is important to us. Earlier this week, CNN had a good article on their site on “How to create a ‘super password’.”
The article discusses the elements of a good password and explains why you should think twice when you’re about to use your girlfriend’s name as the basis of your next banking or hosting password account.