The prospect of a new website is thrilling. It’s an opportunity to bring your brand to life online while tapping into new technology, incredible user journeys and jaw-dropping design.

Deciding to invest in a new website is a big first step. The second step is finding a partner or internal team members to design and develop your new online home. A successful website project hinges on a strong relationship between teams and clearly established goals.

One of the time-honored traditions for building a new website is the kickoff call. If you’ve never done a formal kickoff call (or you’d like them to go a little smoother), here are a few pointers to help start your project off on the right foot.

1. Define The Purpose

The kickoff call follows a discovery process during which both parties have established the basic idea for a beautiful new site. Now is the time to take that idea out of the abstract and move it in a specific direction that ends with a successful product.

 

More than that, it allows the two parties to get to know each other and from our end, to get a sense of an organization’s personality, which directly impacts the creative direction.

2. Create the Guest List

If this article were reduced to just a single sentence, it would be the next one:

All stakeholders should be on the kickoff call.

A “stakeholder” in this instance is anyone whose approval is necessary for the project. That doesn’t mean they have to be part of the day-to-day, but this call will set the course for the whole project. Hearing stakeholder insights on day one will help ensure that the process reflects their input, whether that means avoiding the color blue or focusing on a detail that will impact on the site’s CMS structure.

 

Stakeholders may be generally absent from the project, but the kickoff call will establish specific dates for them to return for big milestones where their feedback is most important and the product is still malleable.

3. Set The Agenda

Think of a kickoff call as structured jam session. You’d be surprised at what can trigger an in-depth discussion and reveal some interesting questions. The goal is to identify how to deliver the must-haves for the website and the hurdles we’ll have to clear along the way.

 

For example, a common challenge is that an organization has a ton of content and they want to make it more accessible to their supporters. In order to address how to organize and present the content, we’ve got to consider priorities and come together on ideas for hierarchy of that content. Our approach is to ask thought-provoking questions that encourage collaborative problem-solving.

4. Share Resources and Key Data Points

It’s never too early to begin sharing resources. Our designers benefit greatly from being able to review an organization’s style guide. Brand guidelines prepare us to discuss how much flexibility or adherence will be required.

 

For redesigns, access to analytics and user behavior will help provide real-world data on the content users want to see the most. Having this data in the beginning provides a reference point during discussions about sitemap reorganization and driving traffic to the content and pages that are most important.

5. Know The Value

Best case scenario: both parties leave the call feeling confident that everyone is on the same page. There is agreement on how the site should look, what it should do and how to get the project over the finish line. We’ll know what pressure points to expect and already be thinking about how to address them.

Every person on the call has their marching orders and knows how they contribute to the overall project.

 

Not everything will be finalized on a kickoff call alone, but the best way to ensure a successful project is to make sure it starts smoothly. Introducing the team and working together to define goals, challenges and important dates gives a web project its best chance to stay on track and end with a product you and your supporters will love.


Dianne Gillespie is a Senior Digital Project Liaison at Revolution Messaging.