Kickoff meetings explained!

What is a kickoff meeting?

A handy guide that will help you prepare yourself, our lovely client, to make the most out of your kickoff meeting.

What is a kickoff meeting?

A kickoff meeting is usually the first major meeting at the beginning of a project that helps to define its scope, goals, target audience and to generally gather as much information as possible.

Kickoff meetings can vary greatly. Some agencies do them internally, some get clients involved. We fall within the second category as we believe that the client is a core member of the team and their expertise of their business is essential to build a successful product.

Invite the client

Who’s involved?

Depending on the project size, the amount of people in the room may vary. We strongly believe that everyone who is going to be heavily involved in the project should attend the kickoff meeting. This will make sure that all voices are heard early in the process to avoid surprises down the line.

For a simple brochure site we’ll usually invite the main point of contact on your side (or a couple of key stakeholders, if that’s the case) and some of the team members on our side – usually a designer and account manager.

If we’re dealing with a large ecommerce site with complex functionality it’s good to have all stakeholders on your side and all team members on our side, just to make sure everyone knows what’s happening and so that we can identify potential ecommerce functionality problems or opportunities early.

Make sure everyone is involved!

What will you be asked?

Kickoff meetings will also vary depending on type of the project, but most of the time it’s a chaotic process that involves a lot of post-it notes, sketches, lists of things, questions and sometimes even arguments! (Don’t worry, we’re a friendly bunch really).

It may feel a little intense, but trust us, to get you the best website we need to know as much about your business, customers and what you want from your new site as possible!

And you’ll get lunch if it takes a long time

Your business

The first set of questions is usually about the details of your business. Tell us about your products and services, your position in the market and your key selling points. Help us understand your industry and what makes you different from your competitors.

Your users

The second set is about your users. Who are the people that buy your products currently and what is your ideal target audience? Are these two groups any different? Do you want to engage more types of people? Are you trying to cater to a specific demographic or is your service more universal? We want to know what your customers are interested in, what motivates them, how tech-literate they are and not just their age or gender.

What you want from your online presence

When we learn about the current state of your business we want to know about your aspirations. What are your long-term business goals? How fast do you think you’re going to grow? Where do you think your business is going to be in a year, three years or five years?

Your competitors

Let’s talk about your competition. In order to help you get where you want to be, we need to know what your competitors are up to. Pick a few key ones and tell them what you like and dislike about them. Are there any businesses that are outside of your sector, but you really like their work? Throw them in as well! We love to know your opinions on things to ensure that what we create is to your taste as well as being great for your users.

Although this seems like a lot of questions to ask within one meeting, if you’re prepared we’ll be able to go through them relatively quickly! This will give us more time to ask you even more questions! (Kidding, kind of).

So many questions

Your new website

Before we can start building your new website we need to know a few things. First of all, how do you want it to look like? Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to come up with mockups yourself – that’s our job. All we need are a few examples!

  • Do you have any websites that you particularly like?
  • Are there any visual styles that you want your new site to follow?
  • Do you have a company branding already? If so, how do you see it fit within the design?
  • Are there any colours or typefaces that you want us to use?

Secondly, we need to talk about what you expect your website to do. At the point of a kickoff meeting, core functionality will have probably been agreed already – we’ll know whether you want to sell online or have a brochure site, and the size you expect the site to be, but it’d be good to run through it anyway to clarify things and bring the whole team up to speed. Not to mention there surely will be a lot of loose ends that we can discuss as a team. With so many people in one room from experienced business owners to developers, a lot of great ideas can be generated quickly.

What happens when you start adding functionality half way through the process

What can you expect to get out of it?

This is a difficult one, because no kickoff meeting is the same. That’s due to their chaotic nature but also major differences between projects. However, there is always something you will be given after a kickoff meeting. Notes and a completed project brief are the minimum, but sometimes you can also get initial concept sketches, rough wireframes, moodboards, functionality maps, drafts of personas and more. You might even have a completely different concept in mind from what you started with!

This is how you’ll be going back to the office after a successful kickoff meeting

And this is what a kickoff meeting is all about. See? Nothing to be scared of! On a serious note, though, kickoff meetings are incredibly valuable to gather information, define the project scope and make sure the whole team – both on the client and agency sides – are on the same page. Designing and building websites that successfully solve business problems is incredibly difficult and requires many specialists to work closely together. A kickoff meeting is the first and the most important step that, well, kicks off that process.

Et voila!

A Marvellous blog by Simon

Simon co-founded Marvellous in 2005, with the aim of building a dynamic digital agency – combining the latest technology with cutting-edge visual design.

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