W3C Website redesign - RFP

Publication date: 7 november 2019
Due date: 13 December 2019 1700 UTC
RFP closed: 5 February 2020 - Project awarded to Studio 24
Project Management:
Coralie Mercier, Head of W3C Marketing & Communications
Access level:
This document is public; the work will be conducted in the open.
Change log:
2020-01-07: Project awarding date moved by a week, having encountered a delay in our ability to make a decision in that time-frame.
2020-02-05: Project awarded; timeline dates updated.

1. Summary

1.1 Project Summary

The W3C is accepting proposals from outside vendors to redesign the existing W3C website (https://www.w3.org). The current website was redesigned in 2008, moving to a responsive layout, revised architecture and a custom CMS. Now over 10 years old, the website is showing its age. W3C is looking to incrementally redesign its Website and revise the information architecture, to show the world who we are and what we offer, to improve the organization and usability of the website for key audiences, communicate the W3C brand more effectively, and motivate people to participate in the organization.

1.2 About the W3C

W3C celebrated its 25th anniversary last October. The W3C’s mission is to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure the long-term growth of the Web. The social value of the Web is that it enables human communication, commerce, and opportunities to share knowledge. One of W3C's primary goals is to make these benefits available to all people, whatever their hardware, software, network infrastructure, device, native language, culture, geographical location, or physical or mental ability. W3C's standards define key parts of what makes the World Wide Web work.

W3C does not have a single physical headquarters and staff members are distributed around the world. There are four institutions that "host" W3C: MIT (in Cambridge, MA, USA), ERCIM (in Sophia-Antipolis, France), Keio University (in Tokyo, Japan), and Beihang University (in Beijing, China).

2. Background

2.1 Why are we doing this?

2.2 Objectives

3. Project purpose

3.1 Goal

The current website was implemented ten years ago and the organization has determined that it is not as effective in supporting the W3C’s mission and goals as it could be.

W3C explored a redesign in 2014 but that project was not fulfilled. We are building on the research conducted by the W3C’s ‘2013 Headlights Redesign Task Force’ that identified key audiences, collected usage patterns (via site analytics) and user feedback (via a 30 question user survey) in order to craft a new vision for the website. The research supported anecdotal evidence that the website navigation is often unintuitive, useful/important information is difficult to find, and designs are cluttered and inconsistent.

W3C believes that by implementing current web best practices and technologies, revising the information architecture, creating a content strategy and revamping the visual design, we can provide our audiences with the best information in a more user-friendly fashion, motivate participation in the organization, and communicate the nature and impact of the W3C more effectively.

3.2 Research

2013 stats

The outcomes of the W3C’s 2013 Headlights Redesign Task Force research can be viewed at https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-site-design/2013May/att-0022/web-stats.html and https://www.w3.org/2013/05/site_survey_20130530.pdf.

2019 stats

Matomo (1) September 2019: https://www.w3.org/2019/10/export-page-urls-september-2019.xlsx
Web stats for www.w3.org, 2019 W41: https://www.w3.org/2019/10/export-week-traffic-2019-W41.html

(1) People who block JS or who have enabled DNT are not taken into account by Matomo.

3.3 Key audiences & benefits

Audience Type Benefits of redesign to audience Impact on W3C
Web developers & designers
External Get work done more easily; learn more about W3C's many activities; find useful materials that already exist Increase feedback, participation, relevance
C-level decision makers External Learn about the value of Web, Membership Increase visibility in new industries, generate more interest in W3C work
W3C Members Internal Easier administration Increased participation and satisfaction by Members
W3C Groups Internal Lower cost of managing group operations Improve participant experience across groups
Business Development Constituency New resources for business development Drive membership

4. Project scope

4.1 Phases

W3C wants to proceed in several phases. The first phase is a subset of the public-facing pages that are the most “corporate”:

(2) The four primary categories we have today may be artifacts of the current design. We should clearly identify who the targets for the site are and then determine what that means from an architectural perspective.

(3) This page is not public-facing but the public account pages lead to it, hence it’s in scope.

The design chosen for Phase I needs to look at the rest of the site, so we don’t run any risk that Phase I will not scale well to cover the expectations for the rest of the site.

Future phases: Member and team spaces, internal (non-restricted) Work Groups homepages, specifications template, mailing lists archives, W3C Community Groups and Business Groups, wikis, blogs.

4.2 Requirements

4.3 Services

Bids should include cost estimates for the services W3C is seeking outside vendors for:

(4) The 2013 user research provides some elements, but it was conducted on 35 persons and is probably not sufficiently representative.

W3C will provide:

5. Timelines

RFP timeline

November 2019
7 - Announcement of the RFP
7-29 - Open Questions and Answers period (Directed to public-website-redesign@w3.org)
December 2019
13 - Bids due no later than 1700 UTC
January 2020
10 17 31 - Project awarded to Studio 24
February 2020
4-5 - Notification sent to all bidder

Project initial timeline

The vendor is expected to propose a timeline which makes clear what the phases are and what the process is to accept feedback from the W3C community (website team, Communications team, Systems team, W3C management, W3C team, W3C Advisory Board, broader W3C Community).

We have an ambitious schedule. In responding to this RFP, bidders are asked to balance the target schedule, completeness, and quality - and identify trade offs where the tight schedule could impact completeness or quality.

The following milestones are upcoming opportunities on the W3C side.

January 2020
February 2020
Kick-off meeting: planning begins, approve work items, approve timeline
March 2020
Update W3C management, W3C Advisory Board, W3C Team
May 2020
W3C Advisory Committee Meeting update
June 2020
Proposed Drop-dead date (no new concepts/functionality added)
Update W3C management, W3C Advisory Board, W3C Team
July 2020
Alpha site launch (internal/private)
August 2020
Beta site launch?
October 2020
TPAC 2020: W3C Advisory Committee Meeting update
December 2020
Launch site

6. Proposal guidelines & evaluation criteria

Please submit a written proposal to Coralie Mercier by e-mail to public-website-redesign@w3.org no later than 13 December 2019 1700 UTC.

Note: all proposals will become available for public viewing but costs figures and schedules you wish to keep confidential may be submitted as separate attachments to Coralie Mercier.

Bidders need to include line items, rates, resources, expenses, estimate vs. cap. Please, itemize to explain how your fees break out for each aspect requested in this RFP.

Copyright: The contractor agrees to assign to W3C all rights, title, and interest, including copyright, in all data, intellectual property, and copyrightable information developed by the contractor in performance of this project.

W3C will evaluate all proposals based on the following criteria:

  1. Overall proposal suitability: Proposed solution(s) must meet the scope, requirements and needs included herein and be presented in a clear and organized manner.
  2. Organizational Experience: Bidders will be evaluated on their experience as it pertains to the scope of this project.
  3. Previous work: Bidders will be evaluated on examples of their work, notably, bidders must have a demonstrable ability to produce accessible websites.
  4. Value and cost: Bidders will be evaluated on the cost of their solution(s) based on the work to be performed in accordance with the scope of this project
  5. Technical expertise and experience: Bidders must provide descriptions and documentation of staff technical expertise and experience.

Language: English must be used for proposals and milestone publications. As the project managers are French native speakers, some meetings can be conducted in French upon request.

7. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Can firms outside of the W3C Hosts countries apply?
2. Is there any fixed budget?
The average cost estimate of $200,000 is based on figures given by people who are in the ecosystem. We would like vendors to propose what they recommend even if it exceeds $200,000.
From the RFP, please note the paragraph “We have an ambitious schedule. In responding to this RFP, bidders are asked to balance the target schedule, completeness, and quality - and identify trade offs where the tight schedule could impact completeness or quality.
3. Why isn't the W3C team redesigning its website?
We do not have the skills or mandate. The W3C team helps coordinate W3C work groups in creating specifications for the Open Web Platform that progress on the W3C Recommendation track, or manages the execution of the W3C Process Document and operations of the Consortium.
4. Why was the 2014 redesign not fulfilled?
The funding for this project had to be prioritized elsewhere. Today we plan to become an own legal entity in 2021 and that further motivates the redesign project.
We have needed a redesign for many years and the upcoming relaunch as our own legal entity provides us with an anchor in time for when to have accomplished a visible (phase 1) redesign of our website.
5. How is the W3C website hosted?
We host the website ourselves. However, we intend to move our infrastructure to the cloud.
6. Can you describe the current CMS?
Our current website relies on a solution developed in-house in 2008 that aggregates HTML fragments coming from different sources (Wordpress, Symfony, manually maintained files, in-house tools, etc.).
7. Do you have any preference in terms of CMS?
The CMS does not need to be custom.
We are open to tools and platforms advice by vendors and our Systems team can handle implementation
It would be nice if the CMS provided a way to integrate data from various sources without requiring us to customize said sources.
We do have a strong preference for Open Source technologies that are standard based.
Unlimited data versioning would be ideal.
8. How well structured are the content models in your existing CMS, or does this just require a complete review as part of this project?
A large amount of our content is not well structured and we believe it would need a complete review.
9. What are the W3C-maintained backend services? How many are there? What do they do?
We have plenty but they are all interconnected. Those have been developed internally and are also maintained internally by our Systems Team. They are almost all (re)written in PHP using the Symfony platform.
The main backend services relate to:
  • User and account management (authentication and rights)
  • W3C Membership (Membership application, organization details, contracts, basic financial reports)
  • Work groups (join/leave a group, display group info and participants)
  • W3C Specifications
  • Management of W3C news items (using WordPress)
10. Is the aim to merge all different language sites into one style?
Perhaps. We are open to suggestions from the vendor.
11. How many content administrators are there expected to be within your organization after the site launch?
The W3C staff amounts to 50 or so people and today everyone more or less has write access, but not everyone contributes equally. We are aiming to limit this to e.g. Marketing & Communications team, Business Development team, Systems team.
12. What is the expertise of the W3C Systems team?
Our Systems team has a strong technical expertise in PHP (WordPress CMS and Symfony framework) and APIs for our backend systems and some expertise on Javascript and NodeJS. We have 25 years of legacy site that this team has managed well. The Systems team's experience is strong at the infrastructure level. Importing old content and moving XML and other files can be done in-house.
Vendors should not worry about details regarding handling the legacy site.
13. How is the legacy website being preserved?
The current W3C website static content is under version control (CVS) and is also under backup.
We anticipate that this soon to be legacy site will need to coexist (in a more or less frozen version) with the new site and that the W3C Systems team will handle the implementation of this coexistence.
14. Are there existing Branding guidelines?
There is a draft W3C style guide.
It aims to be a comprehensive place that compiles, and keeps all of the essential aspects that pertain to the W3C style. Its sources include documents and guidelines there were written by Tim Berners-Lee at the start of the Consortium 25 years ago, graphical elements of the W3C brand, our manual of written style for specifications, best practices for CSS, HTML, etc. It also currently includes a number of additions that are opinions and preferences of its author (Bert Bos, co-inventor of CSS and W3C Staff member).
Note: That document has gotten limited internal review due to its “draft” nature and due to limited bandwidth and the lack of a great opportunity for wider internal review.
Vendors should be allowed to propose changes, and/or should feel free to use this as a basis to build a design system.
15. Are you open to a combination of in-person and remote usability testing to account for your geographically diverse users?
Yes, to the extent that we do not have a preferred methodology.
16. Do you anticipate needing full recruitment for usability study participants?
We may have a few recommendations, but we indeed anticipate needing full recruitment.
17. Is it appropriate to include automated and manual evaluation in our proposal?
Please, include in the proposal your process for validating and evaluating accessibility.
Yes, it is appropriate to include automated and manual evaluation in your proposal; it’s important to know how you handle QA accessibility.
18. What development workflow and version control, if any, are you expecting such as Git hosting; Development or staging instances?
We use both GitHub for our public work and a private GitLab for our internal development. We are used to peer review, continuous integration and continuous deployment.
19. What level of site administration do you anticipate your team will be responsible for after the site is completed (versus none or only content administration and updating)?
We are prepared to handle site administration and are aware that this may depend on the solution we adopt. We are also interested in creating a long-lasting partnership with the vendor to continue to work with us as our needs and organization evolve (as part of our Objectives in the RFP), and this may include some administration.
20. Is there a desired or already in use CRM platform that will integrate with the new site for member engagement and donor outreach?
There is one already (BigContacts) that we are not happy with as it proved difficult to use and has not been integrated with our internal users and members database. Our Business Development Team has an interest in moving to the Salesforce CRM, we recently opened discussion with Salesforce to see how this transition could happen and how to better integrate with our internal systems.
21. Is the content inventory complete, or will this be a part of the scope of work?
We have a good grasp on content inventory, but it may still be part of the scope of work, as it may be related to the information architecture work. For example, we may have some ideas regarding migration that a vendor may make us revisit as part of their migration strategy advice, or we may have ideas of elements for future phases that the vendor may advise we re-prioritize. I expect that our Systems team may be involved for that aspect as well.
22. How many content languages are we expected to migrate?
Currently, our content is in English mostly.
23. Regarding localization, any particular requirements? How consistent is your localization today or envisioned?
Currently, our content is in English mostly. Our Press releases are consistently translated (a handful every year), some of our recommendations are translated by a community of volunteers. Ideally, we’d like our website to be translated in all languages but we do not have the manpower to translate over time. At least 4 to 6 languages (English, Japanese, Chinese, French, Spanish, German for example) would be great to start with; content to be supplied by us.
24. What third party apps need to be connected to the website and how does W3C want that to function?
We have a number of integrations with GitHub. The Systems team will continue to handle that.
25. Will W3C be setting up the server for environment and related file storage repository? Or should that be included in the proposal?
We will be setting this up but any aspects which may require training should be included in the proposal.
25. Regarding MFA WebAuth, how many users will need to be considered for this functionality? At a high-level how many different permission based groups would need to be set-up?
We have 12,000 to 15,000 active user accounts, and expect only a few hundred to a few thousand would ever add MFA to their account if available. For MFA/webauthn we are primarily looking for advice, not an actual implementation. For the site redesign we need to consider user workflow including logged in/out states.
27. What are your primary drivers of sale currently? Are you looking to involve the site more in that?
The site is not a driver of sales.
We are a non-profit and intend to remain so, and our income is principally W3C Membership dues and then grants and other funding sources such as participation in European Commission projects.
To drive W3C Membership applications, our website is one entry point (in addition to the “sign up for Membership” forms) and then we have a small Business Development team that concludes sales.
So our website needs to be appealing to prospect Members (both visually and at the information architecture level) as well as other of the audiences we list in the RFP.
We are indeed looking to involve the site more in driving crowdfunding. The existing “donate” page and experience isn’t very successful.
28. How much of the work needs to be published in the open? In what form?
Enough that significant milestones are understandable. Working in the open does not have to be a barrier or add too much overhead.
29. Who can give feedback?
Our stakeholders and interested parties. For example, the core W3C Staff is a group of 50 to 60 people; our Members is a group of 400+ organizations; our work group participants is a group of 10-12K people. And then, we may get feedback from people we do not interact with in the same fashion we do with the previous groups, but are part of our audience (and a subset of our site is for the public).
30. Who is allowed to give feedback when “working in the open”? We don’t mind explaining our choices and clarifying them, but designing by committee is slow, tedious, and does not provide good results in our experience.
I concur! I propose there is one single person who is the interface between W3C and the vendor.
31. Other than Coralie, who are the other key stakeholders, who are responsible for the decision making process on this project?
Coralie as head of W3C Marketing & Communications is project manager and owner of the website. She may consult as appropriate with the oversight team which includes Vivien Lacourba (W3C Systems team Lead), Jeff Jaffe (W3C CEO), Ralph Swick (W3C COO), Alan Bird (W3C Business Development Lead); and possibly with other groups in close circles (other members of the W3C team, W3C Advisory Board.)
We will, however, limit to one or two the number of people who act as interface between W3C and the vendor.
32. When are the sign-off moments?
This is to be determined. The vendor is expected to propose a timeline that would work with their methodology and proposed plan. There probably are “organic” sign-off moments.
33. Are there going to be interviews before awarding the project? Can you elaborate on the selection process a bit more?
We may wish to schedule meeting time with bidders individually before awarding the project.
The oversight team will look at costs, review portfolios, compare how the proposals are presented, and how close they are to what the RFP identifies. I may consult with selected Members of the W3C Advisory Board who volunteered time and expertise for this.