Business Website Success #8: What To Look For In A Proposal

Once a provider is selected it is time to move to the proposal process. The proposal will map out the project specifications and all pricing involved. This document is very important, as it is blueprint for your project. It is what the development team will work off of and it determines what you are spending. Therefore, it is important to make sure this document is easy to understand and leaves no questions behind. Here are the main things to look for when reviewing a developer’s proposal:

Clear Details


Let’s face it, reading a website development proposal is not going to be on the top of your list of fun things to do. However, it shouldn’t be painful to read. It shouldn’t confuse you or leave you wondering as to what it really meant. The proposal should be easy to understand, address all the things brought up in the sales meetings, and it should outline an appropriate solution for what you need. If you have questions with the proposal, go through it and make notes of any questions you come across. Go over these with the provider to assure that everything you need is in place.

Fixed Pricing vs. Hourly Pricing?

It is important to know how your project is priced as website development projects are typically either a fixed price, or billed hourly. The way a site is priced can have a big impact on the total cost of building it. A fixed price is easy enough to understand – you pay a set price for the work outlined in the proposal. With hourly projects you may have an estimated price, but you will be billed whatever time it actually takes to complete the project. Obviously, this amount could be lower or higher than the estimated amount, so make sure your provider’s estimate is well thought out. If you are on an hourly billing project, find out what methods the provider uses to track their time and how, and when, they update you on status of the work.

Are There Hidden Costs (What is NOT Included)?

While a lengthy proposal doesn’t necessarily make for the most enjoyable reading material, it is important to verify that everything you need is included. Don’t assume the proposal has everything in it that you need or expect. Read the proposal, make notes and ask questions. Don’t sign it until you understand it. If it is not in the proposal, it is probably going to be an additional cost when you ask for it later. Also, consider all hosting, monthly, or subscription fees that may be involved, if any.

What Are The Contract Terms 


Most proposals will have a contract page with all of the provider’s payment terms and legal fine print. This will typically be boilerplate text that is standard to all their contracts. Make sure you understand the payment schedule outlined and don’t see any red flags that are cause for concern.

Optional Items

The proposal you receive may include optional items that you can add to the project, at your discretion. The company you have received the proposal from may have pitched you an additional service that you rejected in the sales meeting, but they may still feel it is a valuable add-on you should consider. As such, it may be listed as an optional service for you to reconsider. Review these options to find out if they really might apply to you in a beneficial way. Also, make sure to not confuse the listed options as being included with the base proposal. You don’t want to get half way into a redesign only to find out the option you thought was included was listed as an additional billable item.

Change Orders

If you need to make a change to the spec in the middle of the development process, how will the provider handle this? Do they have the flexibility to do change orders? Even the best proposed solution can have other solution variations that work well too. If you are in the middle of a site build when your revelation about how your product pages should function occurs, you’ll want the ability to modify the project spec to accommodate this. Change happens, so make sure your provider can change too. Of course, keep in mind that the price will also likely change to reflect the updated scope.


It has been said that the easiest way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. In the same manner, take a methodical approach to digesting the content of a full proposal by consuming it piece by piece. Once you are confident you understand it and that it represents an appropriate solution for your business, you are ready to sign on the dotted line.

Want to see what we can do for you? Start by contacting us today.

This article is the eighth in an ongoing series! Be sure to visit us often to catch the rest of our Business Website Success articles.

Ready to get started?

Contact Us Today >>