The following is a guide and template to create a powerful website design RFP for your law firm. PaperStreet has replied to over 250 RFP’s in 20 years, so we have extensive experience on the most important questions that need to be asked.
This guide is going to go over the basics that should help you appropriately vet a vendor. Read on to see what information we need to respond — it might surprise you.
General Questions: What Should You Generally Ask About Your Vendor?
When your firm is ready to issue an RFP (Request for Proposal), there are a number of general questions that you should be asking the vendor:
- Background, Qualifications and Experience – What is the agency’s background? Do they have extensive experience working with law firms?
- Team – Who are the key members of the agency? They should include bios and experience for their key team members.
- Proposed Budget – They should include budget and payment terms or breakdown, as well as ongoing hosting and maintenance charges.
- Examples – The agency should provide portfolio examples of firms that are a similar size and scope as yours.
- References – Have the agency include at least three references.
- Key Differences – What would the agency do differently from the prior website? You probably should not ask for actual new design concepts for your firm specifically, but it is fine to ask what the agency would change and what would be the vision for the new website.
- Timeline – Ask for an overall proposed timeline for completion of your project.
- Sample Contract – It is good to have them include a sample contract to see what odd terms they might have.
- Other Services – Get a list of any additional services that the agency may be able to offer.
- Results – What results, or KPI, can be expected on the project?
What Should Your Vendor Know About Your Law Firm?
When we receive an RFP, we need some basics about the firm in order to prepare a response. Often we can gain a lot of information by reading your website, but we also like to see a concise report of the following. Keep this short and sweet — usually no more than a few pages.
- About the Firm – Provide background on your firm including firm personality, short history, and where the firm plans to be in a year and five years.
- Goals – We need to know what your goals are for the website project. Be specific as possible.
- Firm Audience / Target Market – What audience do you want to reach and what is your target market?
- Website Background – When was the current version launched? What are the elements that you like and dislike?
- Functionality – What areas absolutely must stay the same? What areas must change?
- Budget – Out of all RFP’s we have received, about 30% will let you know their budget for the project. This is up to the firm to share if they want. From an agency perspective, it does help the vendor hone in on what can be accomplished and set realistic goals. Sometimes we can politely advise the client on what can and can’t be done. At the same time, it may be better to withhold that information to see the range of responses you will get and assure you are getting accurate pricing.
- Deadline to Submit – Let vendors know when to submit, who to submit to, and the format you want the proposal submitted (PDF, hard copy or PowerPoint).
- Timeline – Let vendors know the proposed timeline for decision-making from the firm and the dates for next steps. Also provide a proposed timeline for beginning and completing the project, as well as an anticipated launch date. If you have a key launch date, state so in the RFP.
Marketing: What are Your Marketing Objectives?
Having a solid foundation for marketing sets the alignment for any website or campaign and sets the proper trajectory for successful results:
- Goals – Do you prefer a brochure-like site for reputation or a conversion-based site for lead generation?
- Medium for marketing – Is the firm looking for immediate results in search engines (paid) or a long term objective of ranking (organic)?
- Exclusivity – Make sure that the agency is not working for your firm and the competition — it may be a conflict of interest.
- Transparency – Be prepared to share details of the work, at any given time, to demonstrate what your agency is completing for your campaign.
- Quantifying Success – Are monthly ranking and traffic reports sent? Is there full transparency with the status of a campaign? Are measures taken to capture and quantify conversion to attribute return on investment?
Design: What Do You Want Out of the Redesign?
The following is a list of ideas of what you want out of the overall project (this is just a starting point):
- UX – An overall improved user experience.
- Conversions – Should the design be conversion focused or designed for validation?
- Design – Provide clean images and messaging to let users know exactly what you do from first glance.
- Branding – Does the firm want to create a new firm brand? Logo? Tagline? Colors?
- Highlights – Highlight expertise and provide something seamless.
- Bios – Create outstanding attorney biography layouts. After all, these are the second most viewed pages on a law firm website after the homepage.
- Blog – Design your blog as a resource center for your audience.
- Photographs – Make sure photographs are taken in direction with your design team so that once edited and cropped, they will fit seamlessly into the new design.
- Videos – If video is going to be part of your creative vision, make sure the design team knows.
- Functionality and Technical Requirements – What unique functionality do you want to include on the site (for example, chatbots, interactive maps, calendars, calculators, etc.)
- Copywriting – Who is going to write copy for the website? What content will be migrated from the current site and what new pages will be added?
Development: The Essentials You Need in Your New Website
When formulating an RFP for the website, you should require the following basics:
- SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Encryption – Make sure your site is secured by an SSL certificate. If increased security is needed, you can install Cloud flare and other products to help protect the site even further.
- ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) – Your new site is required to be ADA AA Compliant, according to W3C (WCAG 2.0) Standards. This means your site will be machine readable for sight impaired uses, search engines and translation tools.
- Reporting – Make sure that, at a minimum, you have Google Analytics and Web Master Tools installed in the site to monitor traffic and the health of the website.
- Responsive – This is an absolute requirement. Your new site needs to be 100% responsive. This means it renders perfectly on all devices (desktop, tablets, mobile phones).
- Media – Be sure the site has the ability to feature audio, video, social media, blog posts, payments, CRM integration and form submission.
- Quality Assurance – Make sure the vendor has a quality assurance (QA) team that reviews the website for best practices, errors, and test on all modern browsers and devices.
- Flexibility – The site needs to be architected and built so that its scalable for the future.
- SEO Optimized – At the very least, your site should have a Google-friendly site architecture that includes title tags and meta descriptions.
- Search – The site should feature extensive search capabilities so that your audience can find exactly what they need quickly.
- Site Speed – Your vendor should ensure your site is developed to run fast and secure. This means there is a balance in graphics, images and video to minify so they load quickly. Also code and plugins are built to minimize excessive run time or functionality.
- CMS (Content Management System) – Make sure you request the type of CMS you want. There is open source (i.e. WordPress) or proprietary. Be sure you know the pros and cons of each.
Content: What are Your Content Objectives?
Content is the biggest hurdle of ANY website design project. Here is a checklist:
- Transfer – Do you want all of the content brought over from the current site or do you want to archive some of it?
- Content Audit – What content will you be eliminating? What existing pages will you be editing or merging? What new pages will you be adding to the site?
- Site Architecture – Your vendor should create a site architecture outlining a user-friendly navigation for all of the content that will live in the new site.
- Content Creation – Will you be writing new content in-house or do you want your vendor to produce new copy for the firm?
- Migration Audit – Be sure your vendor audits your current content when transferred. They can check for structure, grammar, broken links, etc.
- SEO – If SEO is an objective, be sure new content includes on-page optimization and proper strategy in line with your SEO campaign.
- Content Creation – Who will be editing and/or writing content for the new site? What is the plan and timeline for content creation?
Hosting & Support
Be sure your vendor can provide ongoing support for your new website upon launch by asking these questions:
- Server – The website itself should be housed on a secure server environment with multiple backups, SSL integrated, virus monitoring, 24/7 support, and more..
- Monitoring – Be sure the site is actively monitored and pre-screen the website for any potential issues for malware and viruses.
- Updates – They need to proactively update all software and plugins that run the website, including any patches, plugins and fixes.
- Server Basics – Be sure the server comes with a CDN, hourly snapshots of files and database
- Caching – Your server should have advanced caching to reduce file and database load.
- Runtime – Be sure the server provides 99.95% uptime and is extremely fast (ideally 99.99%).
- Responsiveness – Be sure the team you select answers your calls, emails and questions within the hour or a couple of hours at most. They need to move at the speed of your firm.
- Support – Ensure the support team can comply with all changes, edits and requests from your team.
Law Firm Website Design RFP Template
The following is a Sample RFP Template for Website Projects in Google Docs that you can copy, save to your own drive, and then edit as needed.
It is also important to note that RFPs are not paid projects. The bids are typically free, nonbinding, and no work will be paid until a contract has been signed.
If you are in need of a redesign, please check out our portfolio. If you like what you see, put us on your next RFP shortlist. Need any further insight into RFP’s? Contact PaperStreet today to discuss.