You chose your website design agency, the proposal is signed, you have your team in place, now what? As with many website design projects, a kickoff meeting is usually the first step. But what makes for a successful kickoff meeting and what should you expect going in to ensure you’re not wasting any of your or your agency’s valuable time?
The most efficient and well-executed kickoff meetings require a bit of prep work. An experienced agency should provide you with some sort of questionnaire prior to the meeting to help get the ball rolling. Ultimately, it’s up to you to ensure these are filled out prior to the meeting. These documents — the most popular of which include a Brand Landscape Questionnaire — will be the foundation for everything you talk about during the kickoff meeting and will often spark additional important discussion about your website design project.
The Importance of Filling Out a Brand Landscape Questionnaire
A Brand Landscape Questionnaire outlines your brand’s values, audience and buyer persona details. This document allows an agency to get to know your company’s brand, project objectives and marketing challenges; and to do a deep dive into competitor research before the kickoff.
These details also help your agency perform design and user experience (UX) research by identifying comparable websites whose look or features you might wish to emulate. Be sure to include your entire team in this process as it’s always best to have everyone’s insight from the beginning of the project, especially for those members who will be involved later in the process.
What to Expect in a Kickoff Meeting
In the kickoff meeting, an agency will home in on the needs and wants of your site, learn about your organization and develop a strong sense of where you want to go next. Just like with the questionnaire phase, it’s important to involve all essential team members in the kickoff meeting.
Additionally, it’s important that you carve out a minimum of three hours for your kickoff meeting. While this may seem long, successful agencies have learned that these meetings tend to take a little bit longer than planned for, so be prepared for a lengthy, but engaging get-together. The worst thing you can do is shortchange what is an incredibly important first step of your website design process.
The following are few elements to keep in mind about your kickoff meeting:
Location, Location, Location
The location of your kickoff meeting is also incredibly important. While this is wholly dependent on where you’re situated in relation to your agency, it’s worth making the trip to visit your agency to see their work environment and understand their culture. A seasoned agency will not only want to meet you face to face and get to know you personally as well as professionally, they should also go out of their way to give you a tour of their facility, and potentially take you out for lunch, dinner and if you’re lucky maybe even a few drinks.
A Good First Impression
Every kickoff meeting should begin with a brief round of introductions. This allows members of your team to introduce themselves, but it also gives your agency a chance to fully introduce itself to you and explain how each person sitting around the table will help bring your website to life.
Sure, you’ve likely met before and/or spoken over the phone or Skype, but this is your first face-to-face meeting with your agency — aka your partner — so it’s good to stick with the formalities and make a good first impression.
Great Questions Deserve Great Answers
The best agencies today are landing the best clients because they ask great questions that earn great answers. If you’ve done your homework and selected a top agency to build your website, then you should expect nothing but the best during your kickoff meeting.
An experienced agency will ask thought-provoking questions, not only in the Brand Landscape Questionnaire, but also when sitting around the table. This allows you the opportunity to talk passionately about your goals and objectives. It gives your agency the opportunity to discover new insights that may or may not have been included in your questionnaire response.
Sticking to the Script
As mentioned earlier, the Brand Landscape Questionnaire is the foundation of your kickoff meeting. Hopefully you and your team took the time to fill it out and give thoughtful answers to the questions included within.
A truly comprehensive questionnaire will touch on everything from your brand values like customer benefits to abstract values such as, “Who would your brand be if it were a person” or “What brands would be its friends?”
While the abstract value questions may seem a bit out of left field, it allows your agency’s creative team to understand the tone and voice of your brand.
Other important details included in a Brand Landscape Questionnaire include questions pertaining to your target audience and buyer personas.
- What motivates them?
- What are their pain points?
- How does your brand set itself apart from everyone else in the market?
These types of questions, and many more like them, are just a few examples of how an agency gets to know your company and brand as part of the kickoff process.
Lastly — There’s the Litmus Test
In addition to answering questions about your brand, a successful kickoff meeting should also include a litmus test of sorts. This is where your agency asks you to pick a few of your favorite sites and then explain why you like them. A good agency will also select a few sites to review with you for comparison.
Reviewing these example sites allows your agency to get your thoughts on the different treatments used, for example:
- Do you like the fonts?
- How do you feel about the MegaNav?
- Too much white space? Not enough white space?
- Lots of imagery? Too many icons?
An agency will take your opinions as valuable feedback and will use it to develop a wireframe and page designs.
Website kickoff meetings can seem overwhelming, but they are a must for any well-executed project. It’s important to work with an agency that has a tried and true process, including the questionnaire, open dialogue and creative discussion.
Looking for a new website for your brand or company and want to experience a creative kickoff process? We would love to help! Feel free to reach out to us today to start the conversation.