New VTL Website – Request for Proposal

In our first year, our current website served us well. Now that we’re growing, it’s time for a bit of a facelift. If you’re a web designer, please take a look at our RFP and make your bid for the project.

About the Vancouver Tool Library

The Vancouver Tool Library (VTL) is a cooperative tool-lending library located in the Kensington-Cedar Cottage neighbourhood in East Vancouver. We encourage the sharing of tools for home repairs, bicycle maintenance, and gardening between community members. The VTL offers an alternative to the current system in which we each purchase our own: a long-lasting, collectively-owned resource shaped by the community, allowing our members to use tools at their leisure without having to buy, maintain, or store them.

Through this alternative purchasing and ownership model, the VTL helps reduce redundancy in tool ownership, the consumption of consumer goods, and the extraction of non-renewable resources required to manufacture both tools and goods.  Although the space holds a finite amount of tools, its presence in the community facilitates the exchange of knowledge and ideas between members and the public, opening a dialogue and encouraging engagement in neighbourhoods.

For those who are new to the idea of building and repairing on their own, we provide workshops to reduce the initial intimidation and uncertainty sometimes felt when using tools for the first time. We regularly feature and applaud projects that our members have completed, demonstrating what is possible with a bit of time, a few tools, and the know-how. To build or repair something by hand is to feel pride, accomplishment, and joy; these are feelings the VTL strives to support in its members and beyond.

Website Overview

Our current website allows members to see which tools are available for loan, what events and workshops are coming up, and what is new in the shop. We receive positive feedback on the logo and branding of our website; this will remain the same. The issue is that our website is predominately a one-way interaction. Our site contains a fair amount of information, but only in a few places are members asked to send in feedback or ideas. At this time, they are unable to interact with each other via our website. Most interaction takes place in our shop – we want to extend that to our online presence.

Project Goals and Objectives

Our goal is to generate a different kind of interaction between users on our website. We would like to encourage our members to display their completed projects and events to the public. We are especially interested in highlighting our members’ projects through a dedicated photo gallery accompanied by their stories and design processes. With a full and varied gallery to look through, our visitors will recognize all of the different things that can be accomplished with our tool inventory. We want the content on our website to inspire and excite users, leaving them with concrete plans for their next project. Our content will be a visual representation of the satisfaction that comes from building something from nothing. This should also help us continue to fulfill our mandate of reducing barriers to tool use; our users should be leaving the site eager to start building or repairing.

To a much lesser extent, we are targeting new members. Our membership growth is steadily increasing through word-of-mouth so we would rather focus on enticing our current members to linger on our site’s pages longer and contribute to our knowledge-sharing community.

Technical Parameters

Because different staff and volunteers will be updating content quite frequently, the website must be relatively simple to maintain. Currently, we are using a customized WordPress theme that we purchased. We are open to the idea of trying another type of format or staying with a theme. We will be remaining with our current web host and will continue to operate our tool inventory through a program called Local Tools, which most tool libraries in Canada and the United States are using. We would like to have a mobile capable site that focuses on our inventory, hours of operations, and workshop information.

Usability Requirements

The people in our audience know their way around a computer; they are comfortable with technology and different platforms. The median age of our members is 28. The front page must supply all vital information, preferably through “call to action” buttons. Other information should be available through tabs at the top of the home page and must be accessible in as few clicks as possible; we never want our users to feel frustrated because they cannot find the information they are seeking.

Functional Parameters

Our home page should supply the most important and relevant information to our users. It will have three “call to action” buttons with our most popular pages: tool inventory, workshops, and volunteering. Shop hours and address will be easily visible. We would like to continue to have a slideshow of 3-5 pictures, each of which bring users to another page on the site with a click (blog posts, events, etc).

The new features we are interested in are a photo gallery, community event submissions page, and a mechanism through which our members can interact with each other (with as little moderation as possible on the part of the VTL). We are open to ideas on existing interfaces for these features. The gallery should allow our members to upload pictures of projects they’ve worked on and share their stories. The interactive feature will allow users to ask tool-related questions to others in the community. Content for these features will only be coming from our active members. The extra resources available should be an incentive for members to renew with us. They should sign in with their VTL membership ID number (given to them when they sign up) and a password. The general public will be able to see the pictures and information but not contribute. On the events submission page, members should be able to add dates of upcoming events to a communal calendar.

On the workshop page, we would like to have an idea submission form. Aside from surveying our members through e-mails and workshop feedback forms, we do not receive many requests for certain types of workshops.

We want to include a prompt for users to sign up for a membership with modo car co-op, who will be partnering with the VTL to supply our members with cars to transport heavier tools home. This should be under the Membership tab.

The search bar should be easily located at the top of the home page, along with buttons that would take users to our social media accounts in new pages.

Proposal Directions

In your proposal submission package, please include your resume and portfolio, with examples of websites you’ve designed. We ask that all persons or teams submitting a proposal also provide a statement of interest, answering the question “what would you bring to this project that no one else could offer?”. Given the scope of the project, please detail the amount of time you or your team would allocate to which specific tasks and your hourly rate. We would also like to see a letter of reference from a client for whom you have previously completed a website.


We would like the website to be completed by mid-spring, to coincide with the start of our busy season (April – May).

Contact Information

Please send completed proposals in one document, PDF format to Chris Diplock, President at president[at]vancouvertoollibrary[dot]com by March 1, 2013.