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What Is a Kick-Off Meeting?

Another form of selling the idea for your website, a kick-off is a meeting to get all the hands-on people involved. This can include other people who will be developing the site with you, the owner of the company for which you’re creating the site, the marketing gurus, and so on.

The main purpose for this meeting is to explain the project, set expectations among the members of the team, and give them copies of the scope document so they can review and understand fully what is expected. Additionally, open a discussion among team members, giving them an opportunity for sharing ideas and honing the plan.

A scope document can be your proposal and contract all bundled into one. Or if you’re doing the work for your own company, the scope document shows everyone various things about the project and should include the following:

  • The basic goal for the website. For example, the goal may be to sell more product or introduce people to a service.

  • The amount of time it will take to bring the site to fruition.

  • The stepping stones of the project, such as when you’ll deliver the first mockup, when the needed materials from the client are due, when the site will be available for client review, and when the site will go live.

  • Your expectations from the client or team. Tell them when you expect delivery of material like text, images, multimedia, and so on.

  • If you’re doing the site for a client, include the payment schedule.

  • List any additional fees you may have to charge the client if the project goes beyond the scope of the document.

When presenting your idea and defining the project, ask the team questions regarding feasibility and capabilities. Also, be prepared for their questions: After all, production people and IT folks need details to do their jobs correctly. Don’t misinterpret their questioning as them “being difficult.”

Also, try to understand any issues that are raised. Sometimes, features or functionality are indeed possible yet just not practical to create or support, so you might need to suggest a compromise. For example, if the client wants a forum, but experience tells you he’s not prepared to deal with the work, you can suggest an alternative such as a blog.

Work with your team to come up with the best solutions.

At this point, make brainstorming ideas a part of the process. Allow everyone to give input about big-picture concepts on features and functionality. However, when the actual work begins later, respect people’s expertise. For example, writers should be responsible for the written content; designers create the designs; developers work with the code. Sharing ideas is great, but a team member doing other team members’ jobs is counterproductive.

As a web designer and project manager, you should establish that collaboration is good, but second-guessing expertise creates friction and generally hurts the finished project. Make sure you hire the right people and then define the roles and build a good environment for teamwork.

The final task for a kick-off meeting is setting the next steps. Make sure all team members understand what they need to do after the meeting. Be clear about what you expect from each team member and give deadlines.

A good way to start the project off right is to follow up by sending an e-mail the day after the kick-off meeting that includes a summary of the meeting, a list of tasks, and an outline of expectations.

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