Company websites: how to handle the tender process

07/08/2019

Beads of sweat form on your brow, your throat goes dry, and you begin fidgeting nervously. Why me? Of course, we are referring to a situation in which the website redesign project has landed in your inbox. You can vividly recall the last time the website was overhauled and how the project failed to avoid the pitfalls. Why should it be any different this time?

Take a breath and relax: there are also successful website redesign projects! And you don’t need to go far to find them. We have years of experience in the field, so take a look at these easy tips for comparing website redesign services – the first step in a smooth redesign project.

 

1. Prepare a good call for tenders

There are both good and bad calls for tenders. The good ones stand out because the client also has a good understanding of what is needed, how quickly and at what price. A call for tenders can be considered a concept design for the project as a whole. When it is well written and takes in every detail of the project, the scope and form of the project are also easier for you to perceive. Take your time when you prepare a call for tenders, and include your colleagues if necessary.

Website redesigns are always done in collaboration between the client and the supplier, so it is important that the supplier understands the scope of the project and finds it inspiring. Redesign projects often go off the rails if essential parts of the project are omitted from the bidding phase.

I would also argue that most failed projects are due to the client lacking a detailed understanding of what they are buying and discovering the truth a little too late – only when the end result is not what they wanted.

 

A good call for tenders includes at least the following elements:

  • General information about the company. What do you do? Why? For whom? It does not hurt to talk a little about your company culture, vision and mission and give an overview of how you work.
  • The goals for the project. Do you plan to knock down the house and build it anew from scratch? Or are you aiming for a few minor technical fixes or a visual redesign of an outdated-looking website?
  • Target groups and their needs. Who is the website for (customers/end-users)? What do they use the site for? Are they looking for information, searching for the right product or using the website for a different purpose?
  • The main content and scope of the site. Is your website content-driven, visual or a simple one-pager to provide potential customers with your contact details?
  • Which features should the website offer? For example, a search field, form, gallery, social media feed, online store, etc. The more you can specify here, the better.
  • Technical requirements. Do users need to log in to your site to see certain types of content, sign up for events or book appointments? Does your site need to be integrated with external systems? Do you have any wishes regarding the content management system for the new site? By opting for a popular, open-source CMS such as WordPress, you can avoid the risk of vendor lock-in.
  • Schedule. Be realistic: rushed jobs never end up looking good, and it is not worth biting off more than you can chew. Split large projects up into sections if necessary, and remember to leave plenty of time for content production.
  • Budget. As with the schedule, make sure you are realistic with your budget. If you do not have any insight or experience of how much it costs to make a WordPress site, give a price range and say that you are willing to discuss the final costs. Internally, you should include a 10–20% leeway in your budget for changes that are necessary once the project begins.
  • Request a price breakdown. As the client, you have the right to know what you are paying for. Ask for a breakdown of the factors and hourly rates that make up the final price.
  • Accessibility. The EU Web Accessibility Directive is based on ensuring that websites and apps are perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. Take the accessibility requirements into consideration in your call for tenders, particularly if your website project relates to public administration activities. Read more about the Web Accessibility Directive.

See also: Accessibility audit – Check the accessibility of your website (in Finnish)

 

2. Carefully choose the firms you will compare

Now you know what you are ordering, you probably already have an idea of which company would be right for your website redesign. Do not take a scatter-gun approach to sending out calls for tender, and do not just target the first 20 hits on Google – take your time to look more closely:

  • Ask for recommendations from colleagues and your network. A straw poll on LinkedIn may also work, but I trust the recommendations of people I trust. Ask people who have recently gone through the process.
  • Study the references. However, do not worry too much about whether there are reference implementations from companies in your sector. The most important thing is to find a company which does work that you like and which has a track record of working on similar projects.
  • Choose a supplier of the right size. A freelancer may implement simple sites for a low price, a small or medium-sized company may be able to do professional and complex implementations at a reasonable rate, and large suppliers are likely to be most interested in large, complex projects with a long time scale.
  • Make use of existing resources. Visit Vierityspalkki to find out about Finland’s best WordPress agencies and Ite Wiki for information on other IT and software companies.

 

3. The final sprint: assess the tenders and make appointments

By now, you will probably have noticed that lots of people can build websites. All of the candidates (hopefully) seem knowledgeable, with finely-honed references. How can you choose the right one? Your well-prepared call for tenders and carefully-selected suppliers were part of the initial stage of the website redesign, and now you need to get it over the finish line.

Once you have sent out a call for tenders, ask suppliers to contact you by phone or in person so that you can review any unanswered questions. At this stage, you may begin to notice some differences between suppliers and the way they handle the tender process.

When you receive the final tenders, you should arrange meetings with the best candidates. This will enable you to ensure that you have the right personal chemistry and you are on the same wavelength.

When you find a firm with good references and great people, you know you are on to a winner. You will have found yourself a partner to whom you can confidently entrust the most fiendish projects – the ones that raised your blood pressure at the start of this post.

Remember to get your contractual issues sorted out in good time and ensure that the proposed terms and conditions are suitable for both parties. We recommend the widely-used IT2018 terms and conditions.

And, while we are here, you can find more out about Pixels and ask us for a quote for your next website redesign!

 


 

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