• Website Planning

How to Evaluate a Web Design Proposal

Top tips to evaluate a web design proposal

  1. Prioritise the needs of your organisation
  2. 11 key considerations for a web design proposal
  3. Assessing the proposal
  4. Common proposal pitfalls
  5. Ethos and culture
  6. Evaluation


As a marketer or digital project lead, it’s important to be able to evaluate a web design proposal effectively in order to choose the agency who will provide the best outcome for your project.

This is one of the key investments you will be responsible for in the coming year, so you want to make sure the agency you choose both delivers, but also reflects on you well. After all, they will be one of the key partnerships you are responsible for.


What matters to your organisation?

There are several key aspects to consider when evaluating a web design proposal and choosing a web design agency. One of the key things you should be mindful of is why you’re choosing them.

What matters to you and your internal stakeholders the most? Perhaps it’s timescales – have any of the agencies you’ve had submit website design proposals given full, detailed project plans?

Perhaps it’s trust and rapport – who have you gotten along with the best? Are you thinking about just this project, or the long term goals of your company? That is, are you looking for a delivery partner, or a long term strategy partner? These two options could provide quite different results. If you’re working to a deadline or a budget, you might want to focus on an agency that can deliver predictable results quickly. If you are planning longer term business growth, you are more likely to want to ‘take a step back’ and examine the wider questions about your strategy or business model.


A man working at a creative agency


Key considerations for a web design proposal

Here are some key points to consider when reviewing a web design proposal:

The scope of work

Does the agency’s proposal clearly outline the scope of work they will complete? Is there anything that is missing?


The key project points

Has the digital agency listened and taken the time to take on board the important facets of the brief you’ve given them? Do you feel confident that they understand what matters to you about this project?


The timeline

Does the proposed timeline seem realistic? Have they taken into account all of the necessary steps required to complete the project?


The cost

Is the cost in line with your budget? Are there any hidden costs that you should be aware of?


The team

Do you feel confident in the team’s ability to deliver on their promises? Have you met with them in person and had a chance to ask them questions?


The research

Is it clear that the website agency has done their homework? Do you feel confident that they understand your sector and your competitors?


The experience

Does the agency have the experience to deliver your project? Whether that is from within your sector, or from similar projects in other sectors?


The ideas

Does the web design agency have the creativity of both thinking and execution to deliver a stunning website for you?


The passion

Does the agency clearly want the project? Will this be an important project for them, or are you just another client?


The business

Are you working with a robust, long term team, with a proven track record, solid financials and the infrastructure to deliver for you?


The testimonials

Have you heard from companies like yours that the web design agency is up to scratch? Have you been able to clarify with any third party as to whether the web design agency can actually deliver?


By taking the time to review the above aspects of web design proposals carefully, you can be sure that you’re making the best decision for your business.


A man presenting a web design proposal to a room full of people during a meeting

Assessing a web design proposal

If your agencies have all responded with strong web design proposals, how do you decide between them?

The best way of doing so is to define what matters to you about the proposal and to be as objective as possible.

While you are probably not planning to run a tender (which usually has extremely rigid scoring procedures and weightings) by assessing each individual agency on the points that matter to you most, and adding up the scores, you can come to an outcome that’s objectively fair.

For example, you might decide the following aspects matter to you.

  • Team/Experience
  • Ideas/Creativity
  • Business/Project management
  • Budget/Costs


Maybe within that, Ideas/Creativity matters most, followed by Budget/Costs and the other aspects less so.

As a result, you could give Ideas/Creativity a score out of 15, Budget/Costs a score out of 10, and the other aspects scores out of 5. This way you create a weighting system that will favour the most important agency characteristics for your project.

That being said, these aspects won’t always add up as you intend. If you have a strong feeling about an agency but they don’t score highest, look at your scoring and think about which aspects of the response really matter to you the most.


Common web design proposal pitfalls

While these potential pitfalls are very easy to fall into, not all of them have negative consequences – it’s just important to be aware of these considerations when evaluating a web design proposal and choosing an agency.


Choosing sector specialists

So, you work in healthcare. Agency X has done a website for every healthcare business in the sector. But, do you really want to look like everyone else, or would you rather stick out from the crowd?


Look at the results

If an agency has delivered websites for similar businesses, ask them to prove their mettle and show you statistics – has their traffic increased? Has the business grown? It’s difficult to ascribe these aspects all to effective web design but they can contribute.


Live websites only

If an agency is just showing you designs and is being cagey around showing you real, live websites, this can be a red flag. Sometimes there is a good reason their websites aren’t currently live (lots of hospitality and entertainment businesses closed during the pandemic, for example!) but make sure you ask your agencies to show you real projects.


Shiny mock-ups

Agencies both love and hate being asked for speculative mock-up designs. Don’t get too taken in – sure, it might look great, but was it really put together as the result of the sort of in-depth approach you’re looking for from an agency? Or is it about giving you a ‘wow’ factor at the pitch?


Unrealistic timeline

Two months? Really? If it’s been two weeks since you issued your RfP (Request for Proposal) and they’re only just responding, then they’re not going to have delivered the project in four times that.


Costing model

Are they costing on a whole-project basis? Do you get any impression that this is just the introductory cost, with more to follow later? Be careful with verbiage around ‘phases’ of the build if these are volunteered by your agency as opposed to your internal team.


Take your time

Rushing this helps no one. You should be reading through each proposal a few times and making detailed notes on questions to ask each agency, before you even present the web design proposals internally. You might even choose to have the agencies revise their proposals ahead of an internal pitch – three excellent proposals will only make your process look stronger internally.



A woman working at her desk in an office


Ethos and culture

Often you can tell everything you need to know about an agency from how they have approached the potential of working with you. Some of this can sound silly, but so much of it is informative of the sort of relationship you’re looking for. For example:


Are they on time?

Punctuality for meetings indicates the sort of ethos they may have with respect to delivering your project


Have they asked for feedback?

Sending you a proposal is all well and good, but the most conscientious agencies will ask you for feedback on their proposals, and will want to improve even before they’ve begun working with you.


Have they followed up?

If it’s been a few weeks since you were last in touch, have they followed up with you? Often much of a project’s success is a conscientious agency chasing up the relevant stakeholders for material, approvals, feedback, etc.


Are they documenting things in writing?

If, after a sales phone call, you receive an email detailing the key points of what was discussed, you’ve found yourself an agency that takes documentation seriously


Are they enthusiastic with ideas?

Are they coming up with things you hadn’t even thought of yet? Have they proposed concepts and directions to you that could help your business? You want to be working with a team that genuinely wants to help your business grow.


Evaluation is key

By taking the time to fairly and accurately judge web design proposals, you can be sure that you’re making the best decision for your business. If you’re still not sure if now is the right time, we’ve written about some of the common signs it might be time to outsource to a digital agency.

At Crucible we love pitching and proposing new projects for clients – and a typical proposal of ours includes everything from a detailed project process, to references, research, testimonials, case studies and costings. Feel free to get in touch today with some details about your project and we will put together an obligation-free proposal for you.


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