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Submitting a Request for Proposal to a Web Developer

Website Development RFP from The Startup Garage

If you decide to outsource your website/mobile development to a third-party service provider you will want to put together a Request for Proposal (RFP) with your CTO before approaching potential vendors.  An RFP is a document that provides the information that a developer would need in order to provide you with a proposal for the cost, timeline and details of your development project.  An RFP will typically include your basic contact information, project information, system requirements, e-commerce, mobile, development stages, desired platforms, user types, requirements, and basic wire-framing.

How to: Developing a Good RFP

Before getting started, it is important to understand the concept of Minimum Viable Product.  Entrepreneurs usually have grand visions for the ultimate web/mobile project they are committed to launching.  After discovering costs and time it takes to develop these sights, most entrepreneurs realize that the best strategy is to launch a BETA site with only the absolute critical features.  This provides many benefits including

  • Reducing initial costs
  • Allows for user/market testing to avoid the costly/timely mistakes in development of unneeded/undesired features.

Step 1: Basic Information

Begin your RFP with your basic identity and contact information:

  1. Name
  2. Email
  3. Business name
  4. Business address
  5. Phone number
  6. Whether you are a startup or existing company
  7. Whether you have an existing website/mobile app.

Step 2: Project Overview Information

  1. List your project goals (i.e. branding, drive user engagement, generate sales, generate leads, etc).
  2. List the specific services that you are approaching the vendor for (i.e. web development, mobile development, branding,etc).  Be very specific.
  3. List your budget (a range is fine).
  4. List your desired timeline (start date, end date, if the date is vital for launch).
  5. List your intended audience for the system.

Step 3: Project Description and System Requirements

  1. Start by providing a brief description of the gran vision of the entire system.
  2. Provide an overview of the functionality that is absolutely critical for your BETA system or minimum viable product.
  3. Describe the different types of users (i.e. public users, members, administrators) and describe the types of members (i.e. consumers and merchants).
  4. Bread down the different sets of modules for each user type.  A module is defined as a set of features in one section of the system.
  5. Break down the features for each user type.

Step 4: eCommerce

This section is only relevant if you intend on charging for products/services online.

  1. List the product or services that you intent to sell.
  2. List how you intent to categorize the products and services.
  3. Provide the name of your merchant account of payment gateway if you have one.

Step 5: Mobile

This section is only relevant if you intend on launching a mobile app or mobile version of your site.

The mobile landscape is constantly changing and there are several available options for the production of mobile apps and mobile sites across the various native sites (iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone).

Step 6: Miscellaneous

Provide any additional information that may be helpful such as:

  • Your ideas for marketing the website/app.
  • Additional documentation such as a business plan, wire-framing, etc.
  • Plans to integrate with any third party technology.

Step 7: Wire-Frame

Many people choose to leave this step to the web development company.  However, we have found that more visual learners can use wire-framing as a tool to help clarify requirements in the RFP and the overall vision.  There are many wire-framing software tools to make this process relatively easy.

A wire-frame for a website or mobile app is like a blueprint for a house – you don’t get the colors or textures.  Only plan layout of the website; this wire-frame online include very basic information.  See the image below for a sample.

Submitting an RFP from The Startup Garage


Whether you have a question about writing an RFP or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!