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96black Blog

Fresh Laundry

Getting organised before the first meeting

A failure to plan is a plan for failure.

Sounds corny but having been involved in a few web projects now, I can attest that the biggest train wrecks have been those where there has been a dearth of up-front work. So for a first blogpost from the interactive producer, I’ll chat a bit about doing your homework before the first meeting. For you and your team this means thinking carefully about what you need from your site. I don’t mean what will the site look like, or what platform will it be built on, but rather how will it help you achieve your business objectives.

If you can’t articulate your business objectives succinctly to a layman (i.e. me), then we’re going to have a hard time designing and building a website that will help to achieve them.

As web professionals it is our job to understand your requirements and transform them into the site that you need. My favourite analogy is that you don’t need a drill, you just need a hole. What do I mean by this? Well, we’re the web professionals, so don’t worry too much about telling us what technology should be on the site, or what shade of puce you want the header to be, let us help guide you through those decisions when we get to that phase of the project. You wouldn’t tell the local builder what type of hammer he should be using, you’d just tell him about the extension you want built. So let us worry about the drills and hammers; help us understand your business objectives and the industry you operate in. Actually, that’s often biggest challenge we face. Building sites we can do in our sleep (well, not quite but you know what I mean). Understanding your industry usually gives us a greater understanding of what you’re asking for, but can be tricky to get one’s head around. Especially if you’re in something that we’ve had zero exposure to before. However, once we do understand your company and your industry, we can create a website that meets your needs (and your site’s user’s needs!)

I probably know more about New South Wales superannuation and cosmetic surgery than I would need to in the course of my private life.

However, in order to do my best work for clients, I’ve had to delve into these quite disparate industries (and more! Lawnmowers, steel manufacturing, lighting, magazine publishing – the list goes on). Now, I’m not painting myself as an expert on these things, but I do need to have a basic understanding of your industry in order to get the best result for your website. So get that ‘elevator pitch’ ready! And the inverse is true, whoever your internal web team is will need to understand how we go about building a website and what that process is. You don’t need to come and watch developers code (hint, it’s boring), but the kickoff meeting is where we need to gain an understanding of each others methodologies, language, and aims. One of the things I’ll present in that meeting is the 96black project method poster. This will show you how we go about creating websites and the steps that are involved. This is crucial to understanding how we work. As much as we need to understand your business, you need to understand a bit about how we run projects. There’s a lot going on during web projects it’s important that we all know where we fit into it.

So, what have we learned today?

If we all do some homework up front, the project will be awesome! For the client this means:

  • honing that elevator pitch
  • articulating your business objectives
  • preparing for the fact that you have got a LOT of content to write

For us this means doing some research about:

  • your company (i.e. looking at your current website)
  • your competitors (looking at their websites)
  • your industry

If everyone does their homework first, the project will run a lot more smoothly and the resultant website will be industry leading.

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