A Guide to the Project Kick-Off Meeting for UX/UI Designers
Helpful tips on creating good relationships with clients from a product designer's perspective.
When starting a new project, it is essential to get on the same page with the product owner or stakeholder. This meeting is the opportunity for both parties to sit down, discuss the project roadmap and timeline, as well as agree on clear objectives and desired outcomes to ensure everyone knows what to expect when it comes to deliverables.
The goal is to make sure that both the client and the product team are on the same page to avoid any confusion or disappointment later down the line.
It is also about inspiring creativity and building a solid rapport. This is the time to get to know each other, so don’t be nervous and keep it casual. Don’t just read off of your notes, make sure the client can get a feel for your personality.
Above all, you want to make sure they are feeling heard and understood. Creating a bond and establishing trust in this stage almost always guarantees a happier client throughout the rest of the process. If the kickoff meeting is done right, everyone should be excited to get to work!
First Thing’s First
Always prepare. I find it helpful to put together a slide deck beforehand to keep the team on track and make sure we don’t forget any talking points. Make sure you budget time to answer your client’s questions throughout your presentation. Keeping them engaged is key, this should be a conversation, not just us talking at them.
This is also a great time to show what you’re capable of- so no boring, undesigned slides! Make sure you assign a team member to keep the meeting on track and act as your project manager.
Maintain an appropriate timeline. We don’t want to bore the new client. The standard amount of time for this meeting varies, but keep the information portion of the meeting as concise as possible.
Keep it friendly. Everyone should feel relaxed and open to discussing their ideas about the project. All team members should introduce themselves, give a little bit of background on who they are, and tell the client what their involvement in the project will be. Radiate positive energy and the client will do the same.
Dress professionally. Make sure your attire reflects your brand. The way you dress could be the image of your company that is remembered. (Yes, even if it’s over Zoom.)
- Set objectives for the meeting. First, we need to find out what our client wants to talk about and what their goals are for this call. We need to know how they would define a successful outcome for this meeting and then align with that. In a general sense, our goals as designers should include discussing the project itself, the scope, how we’ll be defining the success of the final product, and possibly getting a sense of the client’s visual preferences. Make sure you leave time in the end for more questions and clarifications. An informed client is a happy client.
- Introduce yourself on a deeper level and get to know them. Give a little bit of information about what makes you… you! Tell them who you are and why you’re excited to be working with them. Make sure you give some insight on what your role in the project will be. By far the most important part of this step is making the client feel heard. What are their current design problems? What does the product look like now? It is only after we get the answer to these questions that we can add value to the conversation at every touchpoint. As designers, we need the client to feel confident in moving forward with us.
- The layout of the roadmap/timeline. If you are practicing agile methodology, explain what deliverables can be expected at each sprint meeting, and come together with the client to decide when those meetings will be held.
- Ask questions that may have come up during your preliminary research. If you have anything you need to clarify regarding the scope of the project, or the existing product (in the event that this is a redesign), this is the time to ask your client. Keep the dialogue open.
- Defining success. What do the success metrics look like for the final product? What does the client define as a successful design?
- Get a feel for your client’s visual preferences. What websites or apps do they love? What inspires them?
- Get on the same page about the ideal future state of the product. Summarize what you heard the client say and make sure you are in agreement about the next steps. Let the client ask any remaining questions and answer honestly. If you don’t know the answer to one of their questions (at any point) tell them you will find out and have an answer at the next meeting. Wrap things up on a positive note and decide how you’ll be communicating in between meetings. Thank them for their time and make sure they feel confident about what is happening next.
In my opinion, the kickoff meeting can make or break collaboration between the client and the product team. A bad start (or no start) is destined to cause problems and dash any hope of effective teamwork. Making your client feel heard and understood is paramount.
I hope these tips help you with your next project kickoff and thank you for reading! I hope to keep up blogging and sharing tips as I navigate the world of UX/Product Design.
To learn more about me, check out my portfolio
or connect with me on LinkedIn