Website Refresh ( Request for Proposals

Chicago, IL


A.  About Illinois Humanities

Illinois Humanities (IH) activates the humanities across Illinois through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. IH is a nonprofit organization and the state’s affiliate for the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is an exciting and rewarding time for IH. Our thriving programs and grantmaking are doing compelling work across Illinois in bringing communities together around humanities-based programs, and in making grants to humanities and cultural organizations. Our web presence plays a key role in bringing the story of this work to audiences across the state, and beyond.

IH is a nonprofit educational organization [501 (c) 3] dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Organized in 1973 as the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, IH creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. IH is supported by state, federal, and private funds. 

B.  Statement of Purpose

IH seeks an agency to support technical aspects of the refresh of our website, Please note that this will not be the creation of a new site. Our site will continue to serve as a hub to promote our mission and values, showcase our community partners, host event pages, share original content, support fundraising, and share resources. It will continue to be key to increasing engagement of our top three audiences: 1) Participants in our programs and partner organizations; 2) Funders and donors; and 3) Illinois general public.


The agency chosen will work with the IH communications team, to enhance the functionality of the website, with particular attention paid to the home page, navigation, calendar, content archival capacity, introduction of a new section (for our grants program), and the site’s events and registration interface. The goal for completion of the refresh will be late spring, 2021.

C.  Background InformationIn 2013, the first major communications work following an organization rebrand for IH, was to create a website that could showcase compelling stories, use intuitive navigation, and provide a comprehensive overview of Illinois Humanities’ many programs and offerings. 

Website Original Design IntentThe site, like the organization itself, was designed to encourage curiosity and reveal new thoughts and ideas with every interaction. Its duotone colors are meant to reflect the IH color palette and rotate with each new page loading, a function intended to create a fresh, continuous sense of interactivity and energy. IH worked to build in opportunities for discovery and engagement throughout, such as a Thought of the Day feature, intended to inspire reflection and invite visitors to participate by submitting their own contributions. The intention for the redesigned site was that it would convey and reflect IH’s mission and vision at every level; that it would help the organization more effectively reach a new generation of humanists and thinkers while positioning IH as a trusted champion of important ideas for years to come. We still feel that it does most of this, but some updates and enhancements are now needed.

D.  Scope of WorkWhile the existing site has served IH well, its original architecture and functionality have proven to limit our ability to adequately manipulate pages from a design / layout perspective. During our audit of the site we have identified the following elements as potential focus areas for the refresh:

Critical Items:

●      Any needed updates to our intuitive navigation and a supporting main menu with callout function;

●      Any needed updates that will enhance mobile responsiveness;

●      Enhancements to our administrator-friendly content management;

●      Enhancements toward a higher level of accessibility -- ideally in alignment with the January 2018 “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” (WCAG) 2.1., with ADA and Section 508 guidelines, for all content;

●      Enhancements to ensure Cross Browser Compatibility;

●      Effective integration of analytics elements;

●      A mechanism for curation of extensive content created by IH and our partners and what has been created over many years (newsletters, digests, publications, commissioned work, visual and audio recordings, toolkits, etc.);

●      A mechanism for archiving pages from programs that have ended;

●      Enhanced Calendar/Events landing page and individual event pages;

●      Introduction of a Contact Us function/page;

●      New primary section of the site for our grants program;


Other Potential Enhancements:

●      Connection to our social media feeds;

●      An element that conveys a sense of geography (e.g., an interactive map of what we’ve done where, within the state of Illinois -- or something more cost effective);

●      Capacity for graphic description of IH’s impact and ROI;

E.  Project PhasesIH expects this project to include the following stages:

1.     Audit: IH provides audit of all changes that are 1) needed and 2) wanted (similar to the two lists immediately above);

2.     Review: Agency reviews lists and accesses the IH WordPress site to assess capabilities and technical needs;

3.     Estimate: Agency creates a detailed document that outlines core deliverables for project -- and indicates what is not in scope;

4.     Scheduling: IH and Agency agree to plan of action and schedule;

5.     Sitemap: Agency produces an updated sitemap (and wireframes to indicate any needed changes in site structure);

6.     Design: Agency presents design elements needed to execute new code/structure;

7.     Content: IH handles incorporation of all new content required for the refreshed site;

8.     Code: Agency produces new front-end code and integrates with WordPress on staging server; Integration: IH and agency migrate and/or integrate content;

9.     QA: IH and Agency test staging site across browsers and devices, and check content integrity;

10.  Launch: Agency launches enhanced site to development server; Agency provides and admin guide


Note: IH expects each of these stages may have multiple feedback and sign-off loops as well as a number of iterations to be determined during estimating and sign-off on scope.

F.  Project Timeline and ExpectationsGeneral deliverables of the agency during the project -- listed with the understanding that final expectations will be outlined in the final contract scope of work:

●      Project timeline and detailed project plan;

●      Weekly project progress check-ins with the IH team;

●      Weekly itemized updates on budget status;

●      Presentations of site architecture and design concepts via a video conferencing platform (Zoom, etc.);

●      A sound and progressive online project management tool for communication and effective team collaboration.

G.  BudgetOur budget for the work is max $15,000.

H. Vendor Selection CriteriaIH will evaluate candidates on the following criteria:

●      Enthusiasm about IH’s mission and work;

●      Experience working with nonprofit organizations;

●      Cost;

●      Wordpress fluency;

●      Demonstrated commitment to social justice work, community-based organizations and an explicit commitment to anti-racism;

●      Experience building flexible websites that can be easily modified by non-technical users;

●      Quality of previous design work;

●      Experience creating sites that build communities and have interactive features (blogs, discussion forums, calls to action, etc.);

●      Experience with holistic approaches to organization web presence (e.g., insight into integrating social media platforms, campaign tracking mechanisms, etc.);

●      Experience building websites as part of digital engagement strategies for nonprofits;

●      Solid information architecture skills for organizing content in ways that are intuitive to site visitors; and

●      Experience with user testing.

I. How to Submit a Proposal

●      Visit [INSERT LINK] and click the "Apply for this position" button at the top of the page. Complete the Contact Details with the main contact person for this proposal and answer all required questions in the online form. The questions are listed below for your reference.

●      It is NOT required that you upload a document version of your proposal. However, if you would like, you are welcome to add one to the "Any Additional Files: (Letters, work samples etc) Word/PDF" field -- as well as any other supporting documents you would like to include.



QUESTIONS: Please direct questions to and put “RFP QUESTION” in the subject line.

REQUIRED APPLICATION QUESTIONS: Please note that the online application form will ask you to answer the following required questions:

1.     Please describe your enthusiasm for IH’s mission and work:

2.     Please describe your experience working with nonprofit organizations:

3.     Please describe your commitment to social justice work, community-based organizations and to anti-racism:

4.     How would you rate your Wordpress fluency?

5.     Please describe your experience with building flexible websites that can be easily modified by non-technical users:

6.     Please describe your experience with experience creating sites that build communities and have interactive features (blogs, discussion forums, calls to action, etc.):

7.     Please describe your experience with holistic approaches to organization web presence (e.g., insight into integrating social media platforms, campaign tracking mechanisms, etc.):

8.     Please describe your experience with building websites as part of digital engagement strategies for nonprofits:

9.     Please describe your experience with information architecture skills -- for organizing content in ways that are intuitive to site visitors?

10.  Please describe your experience with user testing:

11.  Please provide a summary of links to your recent and relevant projects:

12.  Please indicate project goals, tactics that will be used to achieve them, and related deliverables: (required)

13.  Please include a firm estimate of the fees to be charged and an estimate of expenses that would be incurred (While we don’t expect it to be extensive, please include any user training, post-development support, and any associated costs in your budget):

14.  Please provide details of a clear, detailed and realistic work plan, which will support delivery within the allotted time and budget:

15.  How do you propose to work with and engage with HI staff?

16.  What will your approach be to testing enhancements to the site?

17.  What are your thoughts on how the website might connect/relate with digital outreach tools?

18.  Please provide the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of individuals at three nonprofit organizations who have been clients during the last 24 months and who we can contact as references:

19.  Please indicate the date on which you could begin the work: (required):

20.  Please indicate an estimated deadline for completion with the assumption that the work will begin in November 2020: