A website proposal contains many aspects different from other graphic design proposals, in that technical elements must be addressed along with creative ones. While print proposals do address items such as printing procedures, website proposals must specify web hosting, systems for maintaining content, programs or programming languages to be used and other technical specifications.
Outline of Content
A website proposal should clearly spell out what will be included on the site. This can be done in a standard outline format, or visually, to show what sections and features you intend to build for the client. An outline serves to both let the client know your ideas for the site (which should be based on meetings with them) and protect you from rounds of changes and additions not initially planned for. By including the outline in the proposal and eventually the contract, you are making it clear what is included for the price and therefore what additional services can be charged for.
Method of Building Site
It is important to decide at the start of a project what system or method will be used to build the website. Some sites are built in static HTML, meaning each page is created manually, and updates are done manually as well. Other sites are built in HTML but utilize a content management system (CMS) that stores the content in a database and allows for easier updating. Sites like WordPress and Blogger offer a simple CMS included for free with your site, while other CMS packages are installed on web servers and completely customized for the project, offering countless feature options. Another option for building the site is within Flash, allowing for a rich multimedia experience and a lot of development time. Regardless of the method chosen, it should be explained in the proposal so you and your client are in agreement as to the best way to build the website.
A web proposal should also include the hosting plan for the site. The client should be assured that the hosting plan would properly support the traffic and content expected. For example, a site with a lot of video content will need sufficient storage and speed. Along with a detailed description of the hosting, expected costs over time and for setup should be included.
Once a website is designed, built and launched, it will need to be maintained. Site maintenance includes both technical up-keep such as server upgrades, and updates to content or design on the site itself. The plan, and costs, for maintenance should be detailed in the proposal. This may include specifying what the client will be able to update on their own (through the use of a CMS), what updates you as the designer/ developer will handle, hourly rates for ongoing work, and any other details concerning keeping the site running and up-to-date.
Most clients will want to work on a deadline. While web projects require many rounds of approvals and changes, include the expected amount of time to complete the project. Depending on the needs of the client, a strict deadline might have to be included.
After explaining in writing how you plan to develop the site, what will be on it, how long it will take, and the hosting and maintenance, an estimate of your fees should be included. This is something that should be discussed with the client, ideally before creating a full proposal, so you know what type of budget you are working with. Once you have determined the cost for the project, it can be beneficial to again speak to the client (instead of just sending a number in writing) to get an idea of their reaction and potentially negotiate to land the job.
Going to Contract
Once a proposal is accepted, it should be included as part of the contract with the client. This will again clearly spell out what services are expected for the cost. The contract will also have to specify a payment schedule and legal provisions, for which an attorney should be consulted.