Baltimore Metropolitan Council Issues Website RFP

Baltimore Metropolitan Council Issues Website RFP

To promote regional planning, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC) is seeking a firm to redesign its website with the goal of improving site usability and creating a modern, attractive web presence for the organization. This website promotes activities of the BMC and the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB). It also provides the general public with a greater level of participation in regional planning activities. Other significant audiences for the site include members of partner organizations, peers in the planning community and related fields, and vendors.

Goals for BMC’s new website include:

  • Raising awareness of and communicating the value of BMC’s activities;
  • Supporting public outreach initiatives of the BMC and the BRTB, including several campaigns which have branded domain names pointing back to the main website;
  • Distributing BMC/BRTB publications, information and meeting materials;
  • Increasing accessibility and providing a mobile-friendly interface that can be browsed conveniently across a wide range of devices and browsers;
  • Easing website administration through intuitive organization of backend documents;
  • Increasing customization of website design and components by in-house staff; and
  • Promoting dialogue with stakeholders through integrated social media and other discussion tools or platforms.


BMC is a private nonprofit organization committed to identifying regional interests and developing collaborative strategies through plans and programs, which will improve the quality of life and economic vitality throughout the region. BMC’s Board of Directors includes the Mayor of Baltimore City, Executives of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties, a Carroll County Commissioner, a Queen Anne’s County Commissioner, a Delegate and Senator from the State of Maryland, and a gubernatorial appointee. The Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB) is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Baltimore region. The members consist of designated representatives from Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Queen Anne’s County, the City of Annapolis, plus the Maryland Department of Transportation, the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Maryland Department of Planning, the Maryland Transit Administration, and Harford Transit. The Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC) staff provides technical support to the BRTB.The work of BMC staff includes transportation forecasting and analysis, economic and demographic research, computer mapping applications, air and water quality programs, cooperative purchasing, workforce development, housing and rideshare coordination.

Scope of Work:

Task 1 – Discovery Phase:

In order to determine the technical specifications of the new website, BMC will rely on the expertise and guidance of the selected firm to inform final design. The selected firm will meet with BMC to review and refine:

  • The “Requirements” and “Desired Features” outlined on Pages 6 through 11 herein;
  • The BMC-developed wireframes (Exhibit A) and IA (Exhibit B); and
  • A project schedule.


  • A Findings Report outlining recommendations on “Requirements,” “Desired Features,” wireframes and IA, including the cost-benefits of both free and paid versions of CMS-specific modules and components (for use in the development of the website); and
  • Detailed project schedule.

Task 2 – Design Phase:

Develop design mockups of the new website, prior to technical development. With direction from BMC, the selected firm will work from the BMC-developed wireframes and content IA to design a new look and feel for the website, including color schemes and graphic elements to unify the website with BMC’s recently-updated organizational branding. The following is an inclusive but not necessarily exhaustive list of the requirements, desired features, and deliverables for the Design Phase. BMC’s current website has many of the features using third party services, which may be incorporated in the final design of the updated website.


  • Redesign to modernize the design and user experience design (UX);
  • Ensure the new IA and UX aligns with search engine optimization best practices;
  • Be designed for Drupal 8.4 (or newer) CMS;
  • Be designed for HTML5 (or newer), CSS3 (or newer), and PHP 7.2 (or newer);
  • Design should support a framework, such as bootstrap, to provide a flexible viewer experience that can be integrated into the Drupal CMS;
  • Website design and associated elements should comply with WCAG 2.0 and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act;
  • Preserve existing search engine optimization (SEO) from current website;
  • Include translation capability comparable with Google Translation;
  • Render properly at varying screen resolutions in all major browsers, including: Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari;
  • Feature a responsive/mobile-friendly design that renders efficiently on smart phones and tablets;
  • The design process will include review and revision cycles as needed to achieve approval and final design.

System Functionality:

  • Provide both front (inline) and back-end content “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG)-editing capability;
  • Provide the ability to mass-upload and tag (while uploading) individual documents;
  • Provide activity reporting for CMS contributors and public-user login history; and
  • Allow for the creation of user-friendly URL’s.

System Administration:

  • Broken Link Review – An administrative center for quality assurance review, including detailing broken links on the website with the referring page location so that links can be corrected;
  • Website Analytics – An administrative center for reviewing, filtering and exporting overall website statistics, including the ability to view statistics by page or section; and
  • Document Review – An administrative center for reviewing, filtering, and exporting, user-download statistics for documents, including the ability to view statistics by parent category or tag.

System Features:

  • Advanced Site Search – Provide an internal site search that searches through various types of content, including but not limited to: content metadata, content types, content categories, events, and content contents of files (PDFs, Word Documents, etc.);
  • Blogging – System should allow for the creation of blog posts. Blogging functionality should include the ability to tag and categorize posts, as well as the ability for users to comment;
  • Calendar – Content Editors should have quick and easy access to add, import, export and update calendar listings, with editing capabilities through a direct, front-end interface or a back-end interface. Calendar must also integrate with google calendar and provide iCal links for uses to add events to desktop calendars, such as Outlook;
  • Contact Us Form – Include a “contact us” form to allow the public to reach staff via the site – preferably one form for each program area/department;
  • Third Party Application Display –Provide separate layout for display of Third Party Applications that do not utilize the website’s technologies (ie: Microsoft Access Database, ArcGIS, & Tableau);
  • Developer Site – Be accompanied by a functional developer site for in-house manipulation;
  • Document Archive – A document archive for specified categories of documents with built-in filtering abilities and advanced search capabilities;
  • E-Notifications – A tool that provides a sign-up box allowing users to add their email addresses to receive important notices. Users should be able to set their preferences and should have their sign-up validated via a confirmation email. Functionality should be integrated with calendar/events, job postings, news, Press Releases, and RFP postings. Sign-up submissions should auto-populate existing email software (Mailchimp);
  • Event Calendar – Include an event calendar application that allows an unlimited number of calendar categories or types to be added to the site, with an unlimited number of items allowed to be added within each individual category. The following features should also be included:

o             Capability to set up calendar events as single or recurring events, with options for daily, weekly, monthly or annual recurrences;

o             Calendar events shall provide space for full descriptions including the ability to post related documentation (PDF’s), images and tables within the description;

o             The site visitor shall be able to view calendars by a list of events, a week view or a month view;

o             Calendars shall be filterable by category, a start date and an end date, with the ability to search for keywords; and

o             Ability for site visitors to subscribe to updates from individual calendar categories through e-mail (HTML or plain-text);

  • Event Registration – Capability for the public to easily register for events, retreats, or meetings via the website. Functionality should include:

o             Secure registration so that registrant information is not publicly available;

o             The ability to pay online for paid events;

o             Email template creation to send customized notifications to registrants; and

o             Personalized login accounts;

  • Secure Forum – The system should have the capability to deliver a password protected area of the website available only to those users approved to access the secure content (sensitive documents) via a separate login page. This protected area must also provide the approved users the ability to comment, read, and review other member’s comments made on various topics.
  • Form Creator – Solution should have an online form development tool for the staff to create interactive forms, with:

o             Ability to create unlimited categories of forms, with an unlimited number of

forms in each category;

o             Ability for users to complete and submit forms electronically; and

o             Method by which form data is stored in a database and can be exported in a usable format from the CMS (i.e. xlsx, csv, PDF);

  • Google Mapping Display with Marker View – The system should have the ability to add specific locations that are displayed as markers on a single, interactive map through the use of Google API’s.
  • Image Management – Image management tools for the addition of images to on- site content through webpages and modular elements associated with the CMS.

o             Capacity to upload multiple images at one time and associate images with specific pages;

o             Ability to preview images prior to association with on-site content; and

o             Ability to alter image properties, including image width, image height, capability to associate or disassociate width and height, border color, border width, image alignment, margins and application of CSS classes from overall website styles;

  • Language Translation – System should include translation capability comparable with or utilizing Google Translation;
  • Meetings Manager – The system should have a module that allows staff to efficiently manage the council and committee meeting process including the ability to submit meeting agenda, minutes, resolutions, and presentations. Functionality should include the ability to upload different types of meetings and items and have customizable approval workflows;
  • Membership Directory – System should include a committee membership directory that can be tagged for display by applicable category. The directory should be an interactive index including name, address, link, photo, etc. Such information should be able to be entered by our staff or imported from another source (i.e. CSV file) (Note: BMC currently utilizes Insightly for contact management and Mailchimp for email marketing. The selected vendor will be asked to provide advice about the integration of these existing software with the website.);
  • News Posting – The system should have the ability for use to post press releases, featured stories and “what’s new” content on the site. News content should have an auto archiving functionality to archive posts after a certain time frame. The News should also have RSS feeds automatically available if desired by website visitors;
  • Online Payments – The system should have an integrated online payment functionality where transaction information can be directly transmitted securely to a third-part vendor who would then process the credit card or e-check, and remit the funds into a specific bank account. Transactions should be logged into a local database for reconciliation and reporting purposes. For security purposes, credit card and confidential financial information should not be stored on the system;
  • Online Polling/Surveying – The system should have the ability to create and provide a poll or survey on the website. Depending on the widget’s settings, the poll or survey will appear on the public website inside a widget as a modal. The functionality should include the ability to add, edit, import, export and copy the poll/survey. The website administrator should be able to define categories and capture/display poll/survey results;
  • Photo Slideshows – Creation of slideshows using multiple images and common tools found in the image management portion of the website CMS. This includes the ability to alter the order, speed, transition type, duration and layout of on- site slideshows;
  • SEO Support – The system should allow for keyword optimization with improved SEO, title & metadata descriptions, integrate microdata, and include implementation of Google analytics;
  • Single Sign-on – Should have a component where registered users can log in, view and update their information from a personalized dashboard. The system should have the capability to add registered members through the CMS, import from a spreadsheet, or self-add via the front-end user interface;
  • Social Media Integration – Integrate Twitter feeds directly on site;
  • Social Network Sharing – Users should be able to share website content directly to their individual social networking page;
  • Staff Directory – Should have a staff directory with options for expanded staff biographies and images. E-mail addresses associated with directory listings shall be automatically obscured from automated methods e-mail collection; and
  • Tagging – Ability to tag any content and search, sort or view based on tags.

Additional Guidance:

  • While BMC has outlined specifications herein, it is also seeking guidance from the selected vendor as to the approach of redesigning BMC’s website. BMC encourages respondents to consider and propose alternative recommendations and solutions. BMC is particularly interested in specific web functionality that vendors may have already developed and deployed for other customers.


  • Provide a minimum of three (3) design mockups (of the overall look and feel) of the proposed website that adhere to the branding style and standards (to be provided by BMC);
  • Provide detailed design layouts for all unique page layouts and feature templates, including but not limited to: blog, contact page, committees, programs, planning area, plans, publications, search, staff list, user login, user profile, forms, comments and calendar pages; and
  • Provide detailed functional specifications.

Task 3 – Technical Development – Phase 1:

Once the design layout has been approved by BMC, the selected firm will develop the site architecture with placeholder (filler) text and images.


  • Code skeletal layout of website for review by BMC;
  • Present skeletal layout for review and comment; and
  • Adjust design features based on feedback from BMC.

Task 4 – Technical Development – Phase 2:

Once Phase 1 is approved by BMC, the selected firm will populate the site with content. BMC will manage and provide web content for the new website, including copy (narrative), Metadata, Metatags, keywords, and images.


  • Create redirects from all (applicable) current website pages to all new pages;
  • Populate a hierarchical tag list (to be developed by BMC) in the administrative interface; and
  • Populate the webpages with provided web content, imagery, Metadata, Metatags, and keywords.

Task 5 – Migrate Files from Existing Document Management System to New Document Management System:

Many documents are posted on BMC’s website, such as meeting agendas and notes, presentation files, and planning documents. These files are currently maintained using PhocaDownload.

The selected firm will migrate existing documents from one site to the other utilizing a new information architecture (folder hierarchy) developed by BMC. The new hierarchy will allow BMC to easily organize documents and automatically display them on specific pages on the site based on their various attributes.


  • Migrate existing documents from one site to the other utilizing a new information architecture (folder hierarchy) developed by BMC.

Task 6 –Test New Website:

The selected firm will test the website and ensure that it functions to the satisfaction of BMC. This will include the provision of a temporary hosting environment to allow BMC to evaluate and test the redesigned website before final launch.


  • Test new website;
  • Provide temporary hosting environment to allow BMC to test website; and
  • Address any functionality or layout issues prior to launch.

Task 7 – Provide Training and Direction on New Website:

The selected firm will provide BMC staff with training in the use of the new website.


  • Provide onsite training to staff in the use and navigation of the Drupal CMS used for the development of the site and explanation of all modules, extensions and plugins.
  • Provide written descriptive lists of all modules, extensions and plugins the site utilizes and any known instructions for use and maintenance of the same.
  • Provide BMC with documentation of all customized extensions, including CSS, PHP, Javascript and HTML files, as applicable for the particular customization.
  • Prior to project completion, provide all source files used to create pages, templates, images, or other elements associated with this project shall be delivered prior to project completion. This includes, but is not limited to, the following types of files: HTML, PHP, Javascript, CSS, Microsoft Word, PDF, Photoshop, TIFF, JPEG, and Flash.

Task 8 – Final Deployment and Developer Site:

The selected firm will work with the current web hosting company to transfer the website to the “live” host environment. The selected firm will also provide BMC with a developer site mirroring the final website, for use by BMC staff in ongoing website maintenance.


  • Transfer the new website to a “live” hosting environment; and
  • Provide BMC with a developer site.


  • Provide four (4) annual updates to Drupal CMS and site modules and components.

Due Date:

March 18th


Baltimore Metropolitan Council

ATTN: Brian Shepter

1500 Whetstone Way, Suite 300

Baltimore, MD 21230


Finn Partners and Edelman PR are strong digital PR agencies.

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