Proposal next to laptop
Strategy | 04.26.2018

4 Qualities of a Robust Website Proposal

Congratulations. You’ve decided to make a move and invest in one of your most important marketing assets: your website. But what should you look for in a website proposal? What are the key fundamentals of a solid bid?

Below are 4 important qualities to a robust website proposal:

Quality #1 – Detail: Look for Specifics in a Website Proposal

It’s very tempting in the excitement of choosing a firm, to overlook vague or confusing proposal content. Instead of ignoring these portions, it’s important to get clarification.

Disagreements over what a contract includes are some of the most common “hiccups” in website development.

[blog_callout text=”Disagreements over what a contract includes are some of the most common “hiccups” in website development.”]

So what does detail in a website proposal look like?

Specifics Around What Features are Included

When you look at a line item in the agency’s website proposal, is it clear on what’s included? For example, contrast these two line items.


Example 1


Example 2

As you can see the second example is more favorable. It’s much clearer to the agency and to the client as to what’s included.

Specifics Around Limitations

So this is a common problem with agencies. Project scope is too broad and a portion of a project goes terribly over budget. In the project management world, this is what we call a never-ending project.

In this scenario, often times, an agency will start to get impatient or short with clients. But in reality, it’s the agency’s fault. Why did they keep things so open-ended?

At our agency, if there’s a part of a project with unknowns, we’ll often include a “max hours” note with the line item.

Max hours limitation
Note the “2 hour max” for the line item above.


In the end, this is better. The client knows up front that the work has some unknowns and the developer has some handles to grab onto if something is taking forever.

Here’s the key: clarity during the proposal process sets your website project up for success.

[blog_callout text=”Clarity during the proposal process sets your website project up for success.”]

The proposal process isn’t glamorous like actually designing your new website, but neither is constructing the foundation for a house. But, sure enough, if you don’t lay a solid foundation, you won’t have much of a house.

Quality #2 – Straightforward Pricing: Look for Transparency in a Website Proposal

I once saw a website proposal that went something like this:


Vague pricing details in website proposal


Well, needless to say, the agency didn’t win the deal. And frankly, that was probably for the best.

When it comes to pricing, don’t expect an agency to go overboard with transparency, but there should be a minimum level of detail that attaches specific work to a specific price.

A good way to accomplish straightforward pricing is for an agency to break a project down into smaller parts that have individual descriptions and individual prices. Here’s a good example of this:


Detailed proposal


If you’ve ever read a vague line item with a high price- and you felt uneasy- well, you should be uneasy. What on earth are you paying for?

If an agency is going to take your money, it’s a reasonable expectation that they should provide detail on where the money will go.

[blog_callout text=”If an agency is going to take your money, it’s a reasonable expectation that they should provide detail on where the money will go.”]

Quality #3 – Clear Terms: A Robust Website Proposal has Clear Expectations

Terms. What an exciting topic.

In the end, every part of a proposal is full of terms. What I’m addressing here though is terms outside of the general scope of a project.

When you’re looking at a website proposal, make sure that you have a good understanding of the following topics:

Payment Terms

How much is due up front? What is the schedule for additional installments? Will the final payment be due before or after the new website is launched? Here’s what our payment terms typically look like.

Overage Terms

What happens if you want to add some new work to a project that wasn’t included originally? What is the cost and how could it affect your overall project timeline?


What are the key milestones in your project? When will the new website launch? Are there any dependencies?

Example timeline for a website proposal


What happens after the website is launched and bugs or problems occur? If you’re looking at a proposal and this isn’t spelled out, you’d better hope everything goes really smooth.

Ongoing Maintenance

How will the website be maintained after it launches? What is the agency’s hourly rate? Will the company provide quality support? Or will they be like many unfortunate agencies who “go dark” on you?

Going Dark
“Going Dark” is an industry term that refers to an agency disappearing on you before or after a project is complete.


It’s really important that after investing in a high-quality website that you don’t put it on a low-quality host. That’s comparable to selling a million dollar home and hiring a middle schooler to take the pictures. Don’t do it. An extra $30-$50 a month for a reliable and secure hosting company is well worth the money.

For more information on avoiding cheap hosting solutions, see this post.

Quality #4 – Flexibility: Great Website Proposals have Slack

The last quality I’d like to cover is flexibility. Many times, because of the software that an agency is using, prospective clients aren’t able to select or deselect proposal items. In contrast, mature agencies give the ability to turn on or off select features or even subfeatures.

Flexibility in a website proposal is important because it will allow you to control both price and scope.

[blog_callout text=”Flexibility in a website proposal is important because it will allow you to control both price and scope.”]

Here’s an example of this for an “SEO Optimization” line item:



Note that the entire line item can be selected or deselected. Additionally, there 7 modifications that can also be turned off or on at the user’s will… and did you notice the prices associated with each modification?

A proposal like this will make you feel like you have control over your project.

Where to Go Next

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand some of the important characteristics of a solid web design proposal. Maybe you have a few proposals you’re looking at or maybe you haven’t started that process yet.

Along with assessing an agency based on their proposal, I’ve also written a helpful guide on other important factors when selecting an agency to work with.


Wondering where we got our screenshots? 

At Jordan Crown, we’ve created our own proprietary proposal software to specifically meet the needs of our clients. If your company is considering a new website, we’d love to be part of that discussion. You can click here to reach out to us.


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