Web Site Proposal

Writing for the Web

Purpose and Goal

Often before tackling a workplace project, you submit a proposal persuading a reader that the project is worthwhile and that you are qualified to complete it. In this assignment, you are submitting a proposal requesting permission to build a web site. As the proposal is directed to me, a representative "inside the organization" (e.g., the class), the proposal is written in memorandum form. Proposals of this sort are called "internal proposals." As internal proposals, memos and e-mails are almost one and the same, your proposal will be written as an e-mail to me.

    You are submitting an internal proposal to me. While I do not know the specifics of the kind of web site you wish to build, I do know what the course goals are, what the general expectations of the assignment are, and what might work for this kind of project. Keep these details in mind as you describe the project, making sure you define key terms, avoid excess jargon, and emphasize the need and benefits of your proposal.

    In reviewing your proposal, I want to make sure that: 1) The project helps you achieve your learning goals and the course learning goals; 2) The project is both viable and valuable; and 3) The project will be completed successfully and on time. I also need to decide what, if any, help I need to provide to insure the project's success.

    I want to stress the need for a detailed, realistic schedule of work (as realistic as possible given the assignment due date). Your tendency will be to over promise — especially if you have little experience with web design. To counter that tendency — and if I may impart a key to workplace success — under promise and over deliver.

    Your proposal needs to persuade me that:

      • (Identification) You have identified the kind of web site you wish to build and that this web site serves your objectives, the needs of your audience, your learning goals, and the goals of the course;
      • (Specification) You have analyzed the web site assignment and that the web site you propose to build fulfills that assignment;
      • (Skills) You have reasonably assessed, based on the skills you now have and will refine, or the skills that you will develop, that you can actually build the web site envisioned in the proposal;
      • (Benefit) You can benefit from building this web site in the broader context of this course;
      • (Schedule) You have a detailed, realistic schedule for the work that sets specific deadlines and extends beyond the class calendar.

Writing the Proposal

As this proposal is internal, please submit it to me as an e-mail proper. Keep in mind that proposals are fundamentally persuasive; in this case, you need to show that you are addressing a problem (the need to build the kind of web site you have identified) exists, that your solution solves the problem, and that you are the one to carry out that solution. As a result, your proposal should include:

    Introduction — Clearly state your purpose (i.e., you are requesting permission to spend approximately 'x' hours building a specific kind of web site). In this section tell me what the proposal includes, and focus on why the kind of site you wish to design matters to the target audience, to you, and to me.

    Problem Statement (here the term "problem" is to be understood broadly) — Demonstrate that a problem or need exists by describing the tasks you are going to perform and, importantly, why the outcome matters to you and your intended audience. In particular, you need to establish that the kind of web site you wish to build addresses the ideas and issues you have identified. Your goal here is to justify the kind of web site you wish to build. Most importantly, I want you to state concisely (in a sentence or two for each goal) 3 learning goals you wish to achieve by building this web site. This section may include smaller subsections.

    Project Definition — Describe, in as much detail as you can, your solution to the problem defined in the previous section. You should explain precisely what you will produce — a specific kind of web site with a specified number of pages that you describe in detail — who the intended audience is, and what their interests/concerns are.

    Project Plan — Describe in detail your schedule for turning your solution into reality, including major tasks (use the course calendar as a basis but be as specific and detailed as possible) and deadlines and time estimates for those tasks. Include a written summary (e.g., brief paragraph or bulleted list) of the major tasks and a schedule of deadlines.

      To help define the plan, break the project into clear milestones (e.g., draft 1 of the homepage will be completed by ...). You should know, or closely estimate, the specific areas you need to work on, how many hours each task requires, how much time you plan to put in each week, how you will use that time, what you need to accomplish by each deadline, what knowledge and information you need to have for each iteration of the web site, when you plan to begin work, and so on.

      Use this section of the proposal to convince me that you understand what is needed to make the web site a success and that you have a clear plan to make that happen.

    Authorization/Closing — A polite conclusion that opens the door for more conversation and invites response (e.g., "I believe this plan will enable me to effectively build and complete a web site for (the audience). If you would like me to proceed with the project, please return a signed copy of this proposal by (a date specified). Please contact me if you have any questions. Thank you for your time.") In other words, proposals should always end with a connection between you and your audience that moves the conversation forward. (Note that once you get my comments back on your draft, you have permission to proceed; you should continue working on the web site in the meantime).

The sections described above provide a skeleton outline only — you can (and in most cases, probably should) have subheadings under each major category and organize the information in the way that makes the strongest case for your request.

Due By midnight September 9: A 750- 1250 word proposal using memo form (as determined by e-mail conventions and the above structure).
Please send the proposal to me either as either a document (Word or PDF) attachment or as an e-mail proper. (jim.collier@vt.edu).

Additional Resources:

Web Writing