The abundance of work across Duke can’t be met by the in-house resources alone. We utilize vendors from around the area including some in other areas of the country and abroad. The following guidelines have been developed to streamline the process of working with external vendors.

What You Need to Know

There are some areas of the web design process that are non-negotiable. Meaning, requirements in these areas must be met for the safety and security of our digital presence and the integrity of the brand.


Web security is a critical component of online information. Requirements for meeting security standards can be found at the Security site.


Assuring that Duke’s digital content is accessible to all requires meeting the WCAG 2.0AA requirement. Meeting this is both a content AND development concern. Color, documents, code, and videos must all be compliant before being posted. Visit the Accessibility site for more information.


Unless a justifiable business need has been identified, all sites and content related to Duke should be hosted using internal resources. Vendors can be granted affiliate netid’s so that they can build your project within the Duke environment saving both time and money. Please visit the Office of Information Technology for more information.


URL’s should build upon the extension. Third-level domains require approval through University Communications. External domains must be purchased through the central IP registry process.

Identifying Appropriate Vendors

Projects can range from small face-lifts to large overhauls. Choose a vendor that matches the skills you need for your project. A list of vendors that have agreed to Duke’s hosting, web, security and accessibility guidelines as well as fulfilled appropriate procurement documentation can be found here.

The Process

Communications projects of a sizable scope should solicit multiple bids. If an internal resource for the work exists, you should request a bid from that area. For example, if you are completing a web redesign a bid should be obtained from Duke Web Services. We should make every effort to keep Duke money in-house whenever possible.

  • Clients should develop a scope document. This should be no longer than 3 – 5 pages and should include the project objective, audience, timeframe and a range of costs. (ex. $10-15k) This should NEVER represent your entire budget.
  • RFP’s should be requested to be received within 2 weeks. *Note: you may also need to leave time for addressing vendors’ questions in this phase.



  • Once bids are received, the decision of the vendor is left up to the client/department.
  • Once chosen, a project kickoff is held.
  • A purchase requisition should be requested with Procurement for the entire amount of the project. You will bill against that amount throughout.

Managing Your Vendor

  • At the project kick-off establish your method of project management. Identify someone from the vendor team and someone from your team (usually yourself) to be the primary contact.
  • Request status updates bi-weekly or weekly. These updates should always include where you are on time, scope and budget. (If these are out of synch, this will help do avoid derailing the project.)

Review of Work

  • It is important that you allow adequate review and revision periods for work both before and after the launch of a site. If you are suspicious about the back-end development and would like additional support, Duke Web Services can review the work for a small fee.
  • It is also worth noting that the review period is not the time for design changes.


  • All work that exceeds $5,000 will be flagged for approval within the Procurement system. To maximize the use of Duke resources, one of the competitive bids must be from a qualified internal service provider if one exists in that category. For example, bids for video work over the $5,000 threshold should include a bid from Duke Media Services. The remainder of the bids must be from approved Duke external vendors.

Payment of Vendors

  • Approval from appropriate parties is needed for getting a vendor paid. All communications projects utilizing an external vendor should be put forth on a Purchase Requisition order, not on an AP Check Request. If a Purchase Requisition is presented to the Procurement or Financial Services without prior approval, it will not be paid.
  • Please do not submit an AP Check for communications projects over $2,500, as the request will be denied which will slow the payment process. AP Check requests are reserved for goods and services of $2,500 or less.
  • Vendor names are managed in conjunction with Duke Procurement and Accounts Payable.
  • Payment terms should never be less than 2 installments (at least 1/3’s preferred) and all invoices are net 30 days.
  • Please note: vendor services should not be charged to your P card.

!!Important: Special guidelines exist for the use of freelancers or vendors that are former employees of the University or Health System. These circumstances involve a separate process and/or the use of multiple groups within Duke – Duke Temporary Services, Procurement, HR, etc.