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Start it Off with a Kickoff

Jackrabbit Design June 16, 2017 Project Management

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The kickoff can be the most exciting part of the design process…honestly!

Everyone is amped up and ready to get the ball rolling on their brand new site! And they want it now! Often times, clients want to move right into wireframes or right into design, but the kickoff can be the most crucial part of the process. You wouldn’t start a football game without a kickoff, right?

What is a kickoff?

We actually do a kickoff for each of our projects, regardless of size. This is where we start our initial “discovery” phase. We take the time to understand the current and future goals of the project, as well as gain a deeper understanding of the client’s brand. Whether it’s a website redesign that takes a two-hour in-person meeting or a small advertisement that takes a 15-minute phone call, this step is essential to starting a successful project.

What makes a kickoff successful?

Dave, Cara, and I walk into a conference room…sounds like the start of a great joke, right? It’s actually the start of a great meeting! The most successful kickoffs include all of the key stakeholders involved in the project. If the Senior Vice President has the final say in the launch of a site or the print of a brochure, they definitely need to be included. That being said, the best client kickoff teams aren’t massive—if you can keep it compact without excluding key decision-makers, that’s our ideal!

Along with having the right people involved, you better have done your homework! You would never show up to a geometry final without having studied, right? Well, you certainly wouldn’t want to walk into a kickoff unprepared. Before the kickoff, our team will meet to debrief on any initial conversations with the client and review any assets that may have been provided. We’ll take the time to review the existing website or marketing collateral to learn as much as we can to make the most of our time during the actual kickoff meeting.

This is a mandate for the client, as well! Make sure you understand what you’re asking for in the project. Does your team have realistic expectations both in terms of project scope and timeline? Does everyone but your CEO believe your website needs to be redesigned (yes, that’s happened before)? We know your time is valuable. If everyone is prepared the kickoff can be incredibly productive and beneficial for both parties.

What comes out of a kickoff?

During the kickoff we’ll cover a wide range of topics, including target audience, messaging, brand identity, and design characteristics. From this meeting, the Project Manager will put together a Strategic Creative Brief that lays the foundation for the project. The brief is used in every phase of the project from information architecture to development.

The kickoff also allows you to set the tone for the entire project. You’ve now met the team you’ll be working with for upwards of 6 months! That’s a long time together, so it’s always in everyone’s best interest to start off on the right [kicking] foot!



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