People come to web designers and developers because they want us to solve their website problems and articulate the direction that their website project needs to go in.
They need a website, but they often also need us to help them determine the path that they need to travel on to meet their media needs and more general company goals. They are usually clear about what their website problems are, but they look to us and our expertise to help them come up with the solution, vision and direction they need to go in on the Internet.
A website has many parts that need integrated – technology, design, the website’s interaction with other media and the world in general, its interaction with products that may be showcased or sold on the site or by the client’s company, legal and financial constraints and more. All of these need to come together to create an engaging and effective interactive vision that is communicated as naturally as possible with the website’s users.
A website proposal is our chance to show a client that we can provide that clear, organized, integrated solution to the problem they have brought to us – that we can add value and vision to what they are trying to achieve.
Website proposals are an important administrative tool for doing this. Some clients require them. For others, it’s a good idea to provide one, especially if they are not professionals in the web world and you don’t work with them on an on-going basis. A website proposal demonstrates that you understand the client’s needs and explains how you intend to go about meeting them.
It also gives you a chance to show you are competent and reasonably priced.
One of the risks of providing website proposals is that many companies ask several competing website companies to provide proposals as a free way to do their thinking for them about what their website needs are. This is unavoidable – in order to get clients, you often first need to be willing to give prospective clients some guidance and direction. To protect yourself from spending too much time on a proposal that a client then uses as a free research document, here are some guidelines to follow:
A website proposal should include:
Your name, the client’s name and the names of your companies, as well as your address, phone number, url and email
A Statement of Work
Define the design
Describe it in two or three adjectives and in terms of what it must accomplished. Include colors if those have been decided on, whether the logo is already designed, the style to be used for the website, what the design must accomplish and what other media it must be compatible with.
Define the website’s content and who will provide it – text, photography, graphics, video and audio
Include a note that if the client provides the content and it is not in a format that you deem is suitable for the web for space, quality or other design reasons, you will discuss the problems with the client and present possible options to adapt the content. If the client opts to have you provide more content than was included in the original proposal, you will work together to reach a solution and you will charge for any content you produce at your hourly rate.
Make recommendations for building the site
This section should include an overview of the site and various options for building it, phases for buildout and how much they will cost and any unknowns. Include any of your outstanding questions and concerns.
Note that times for buildout can vary depending on how quickly the client provides feedback and content.
Design and development schedule
This includes the major tasks to be completed during the project. Be careful about including time frames. We generally don’t, because we find that the completion of a project can be delayed when clients don’t provide content or feedback in a timely manner.
We generally include the following tasks in this section of the proposal:
This includes a list of the services and features we will provide and conditions and constraints. Include the design and development fees, software licenses, domain and hosting fees if we are handling them, e-commerce licensing fees and any specialist fees if we are hiring another guru to do special tasks on the site. Also include costs for content if you are providing it.
Let your client know that this is an estimate and you will charge less if the site costs less. We often give clients a range and we try to keep website costs within the estimate. If we didn’t use all of the budget in the estimate, we give the client a discount when the site is finished.
The client must have copyrights or have acquired the legal right to use the content that will be posted on the site.
If the client is collecting information on the site, they must provide us with a Terms of Privacy statement to post.
This section includes a statement that we will not post any information on a website that violates laws or poses a danger to the privacy and safety of the public.
We also state that any changes to the scope of this proposal will require the client and Rouviere Media to discuss how to carry out those changes and the impact they will make on the budget.
We handle payments on a three-part basis – 1/3 on acceptance of the proposal, 1/3 after the design is approved and the home place is in place and approved, 1/3 when the site is built out and goes live.
We also include a statement that we are happy to provide technical advice not directly related to the website’s buildout and maintenance, but we charge an additional hourly $40 consulting fee to address those questions.
We ask the client to review the proposal and let us know in an email that they are in agreement with it or let us know their concerns so that we can address them.
We end by saying we are enthusiastic about working on the project and look forward to meeting with them.
The proposal should be visually appealing with your branding on it, easy to read with headers dividing the sections, free of typos and grammar errors and courteous.
Before sending it out, we double check to make sure it addresses all of the client's requirements and answers all of his or her questions.
We send the proposal as an attachment with an e-mail introducing it and highlighting our team’s relevant skills. We thank the client courteously for considering us.
After we send the proposal, we usually call the client to tell him or her that the proposal is on its way. We offer to go over it so that any questions can be cleared up. If we don't get a call in a day or so, we follow up with another phone call or email to verify that the proposal was received and answer any questions.