How to Write a Winning Web Design Proposal

Posted on Apr 25, 2020
Last updated on Jun 9, 2020
3 minute read

I started a new niche web design business back in 2018. My audience is non-profits, and to date I’ve spoken with close to 100 prospects. Web design enquiries come through my website at a rate of almost one per week.

In the web development business, this is really good. But it does mean that I’ve written a lot of web design proposals!

But in the early days, most of my web design proposals were rejected. It’s incredibly disheartening to put effort into generating web development leads, only to fail on closing the sale.

I knew something had to change, so I tightened up my proposal process. I’m going to share these web design proposal tips with you so you can adapt them into your own processes and start winning more clients.

What should go in a web design proposal?

When working out what should be included in a web design proposal, it’s important to keep the reader at the front of your mind at all times.

If you can pre-empt their questions, address their concerns and excite them, you’re already 90% of the way to a winning proposal!

Here are my top web design proposal tips, based on some hard-learned failures.

Tailor the look and feel

My first few proposals were pretty basic to look at. They were light on imagery and not particularly tailored to the prospect in question.

For some reason, I thought this was okay, but I soon realised it wasn’t.

Picture this: your web development proposal gets placed on a desk next to two others. The board of directors look over the three documents in front of them. First impressions count. Once I began to tailor the proposal cover page to reflect my client’s identity, my conversion rate increased. It’s not a silver bullet, but enhancing the look of a web dev proposal can really help you stand out and make a great first impression.

Consider the client’s wider aims

It goes without saying that everything in the brief should be included in a website proposal, but do you ever take a step back to consider the bigger picture?

Winning a website project might be a big deal to you, but the chances are a new website is just on piece of the puzzle for your prospective client. How can you help them with those other pieces?

When you write a web design proposal, think about ways in which you can facilitate and help the client’s growth. For example, their brief may not mention SEO or social media, but you could spend a few moments addressing these in your proposal. This shows you care and are willing to go above and beyond. It demonstrates business acumen, it builds trust and will strengthen your proposal when compared to others who have done nothing more than address the brief. Try it.

Include a follow-up service

It’s tempting to consider a web development project in isolation. But in reality, designing a website is about entering a relationship with a new client.

How can you continue to help once the website has launched? Can you offer web hosting and email support? Graphic design on a retainer? Analytics reporting? There are tonnes of opportunities here for you to not just make more money, but build confidence with your prospect that your proposal is the one to beat.

Have a conversation before you write a proposal

I have saved the most important tip until last: always speak with your prospect about their brief before you write a word!

When a brief lands in front of you, take some time to fully understand it. Note down any questions or ideas you might have, then arrange a call with the client to discuss. This demonstrates a desire to start a relationship. It shows you won’t hide behind your laptop and that you’re not afraid to get stuck in early on. And if you can make a good impression on the phone, the prospect will remember you when it comes to comparing proposals.

How do you write a web design proposal?

My key takeaway is to write like you’re the client. If you can reframe your thinking away from that of an external service provider, and toward the person tasked with delivering the website project, all sorts of gaps and opportunities will present themselves during this process.

The next time you’re faced with a new brief, take the time to really dig into the motivations behind the project. This will help you to not only storm the brief, it will make you come across as one of the team. If your prospect feels like you’re invested, even at this early stage, they are far more likely to work with you.