It’s a jungle out there, and while most of the jungle is wild and filled with some rather vicious monsters, we’d like to consider ourselves the jungle guides. Nothing scares us and no beast is too large to manage or tame (*cough* 10 cooks in a kitchen *cough*). Many of our previous clients return because they value the CreateApe difference and know that we are experts in our field when compared to what’s out there. The pickings are slim people!!
We attribute our success to a successful kick-off with our clients. The first meeting always dictates the tone, direction, and collaboration amongst our clients and our team. Our founder and CEO, Alessandro Fard, has broken it down to some key questions to kick off the meeting, and we’re proud to say it works!
Aside from narrowing down a meeting date, time, and location that works for everyone, we also have a general pattern of the questions we like to ask for the first meeting. We make it a point to hear out the client’s vision and expectations for their new product/service launch. Leadership is not just about directing the path and giving orders, leadership takes an open mindset and ability to adapt skill sets into the path we map out collaboratively speaking.
So what are these general key questions?
- What do they do?
- Why do they do what they do?
- What have they done or tried in the past?
- Why did they do it?
- What happened or what was the result?
- What do you think went wrong? Or right?
- What they hope to achieve next?
- Who’s going to be around to do it?
What’s your company about?
This question is a given. This is their opportunity to shine and dazzle you with a history of how they got started and where they see the company or product heading. The important part to address here as UX designers (which usually doesn’t come up) is how the company makes its revenue. Did you get that? HOW DO THEY MAKE MONEY?!? No money, no business. No business, NO client. NO CLIENT!!! WHAT?!
Create Ape knows successful UX ninjas prioritize not only the user, but the business as well. While learning the history and vision of the client, it is important to know the profit and benefit for both the user and the client from a business perspective. And guess what else? Some of the best challenges are when the users goals and the business goals are completely different. How do you marry the two? Great UX gurus live for that!
You also have a chance to address the essential reason of why they called you in the first place: how they can make it better and how they can MAKE MORE MONEY. What else draws businesses to launch new services and products?
With years of experience, it’s safe to say that most companies come with limitations, and it’s a ninja’s job to exploit those limitations and convert them into possibilities. Mind blown, yet?
What has been done thus far?
This question opens the discussion about time and money. Another favorite thing to talk about! Many times than not, a client comes to us when “sh*t hits the fan” and they are down to a final deadline, the last inning of the game with little to no resources left to spend. Then you’re left to clean up the mess, and possibly start from scratch…depending on the beastly damage. Yup, damage control. We said it!
Remember to keep realistic expenditures and time frames for clients, especially if they’ve already been burned. It is better to be real than to try to meet their demands in order to land the job. It all takes time and money, don’t beat around the bush! Transparency is what wins the client and keeps them coming back.
What should we review to be caught up to speed?
Give the client an opportunity to expound on what has worked and what has not. AND MEMORIZE IT!! Ok…maybe not memorize it, but definitely pay attention. This is different from the company history in that it relates specifically to the project at hand. This is important information to make sure that you’re not busting out the same ideas as the last team.
It also gives you feedback on direction and concept with what has worked in the past, and allows you to expand that concept to further limits. We love pushing limits, not buttons.. Dive deep into the core brand/product and don’t be lazy in your review.
SO don’t just flip specifically to what has worked and ignore what hasn’t. The stuff that didn’t work is equally as important. Knowing what exes to avoid from the past saves you time and money.
What would you like to achieve next?
While the client has already given you an overall goal of where they want to go. This question is meant to deepen the goal and methods or conversion rates they wish to apply.
Driving traffic is easy, but what you want the traffic to do is where the nitty gritty stuff comes in. Questions like: Do you want to increase sharing? Increase page views? Increase sign ups? Increase retention rates?
As the client answers these questions, explain to them that for every action there is a reaction. We can’t escape Newton people!! This will help you remain transparent (and apply some physics to your accolades) so that the client can decide what the priority is and how it will affect their results. You can’t have your cake and eat it too…..or can you?
Client Collaborators & Team Collaborators
Who is going to report to you and who will be reporting to them? When it comes to UX design it’s a lot smoother to have less collaborators because the more eyes it needs to reach the longer the turn around rate is before it actually gets approved. (Remember that kitchen *cough* we talked about?).
This swings both ways, and in an ideal world, we like to have 1-3 points of contact on a project to create true villain magic. It nicely ties back to our leadership spiel and navigating what it takes to successfully kick-off a product/service. Once you establish the team on both sides it helps establish you into that leadership role, which in turn helps everyone out and holds everyone accountable.
Another thing we’d like to address while on this topic is the method of communication that both teams will use to get the job done. One of our teams favorite is Slack. Be clear as to where the primary communication will go down so that the client knows exactly where to go to find the goods.
Sometimes with so many apps and management tools out there, it can be easy to get lost in communication. We also like to hold weekly meetings with our stakeholders to ensure that everything is getting communicated effectively and that goals are being met by the team.
Lastly, let them know you got this:
The grand finale of the meeting is your chance to shine. We know it sucks holding in all of your awesomeness until the end, but trust us it works!
The conversation should end with the approach you’d like to take from there–that first meeting. Yup, how are you planning to tame the beast?
Talk about the research you plan to review of previous successes and disasters to avoid. Also mention future steps after reviewing everything they give you, the interview and selection of users you’d like to talk to, and the outcome of the similarities and/or differences that affect the vision of the product.
More future topics to shine light on include: the product mission statement, competitive design principles, success metrics to track, wireframes, and prototypes. Let the client know that through every step of the way, from infancy to maturity, you will be holding their hand–advising and answering any questions that arise.
Yes–these secondary steps will follow the initial approach, but it is important to highlight what is ahead so that they can see a light at the end of the tunnel and know what to expect from a UX ninja.
- First meeting MATTERS MOST.
- Leaders aren’t cocky, they’re open-minded.
- Let the client shine FIRST.
- Prompt the client further with key questions.
- Don’t be lazy, do the research.
- Get to know the team you’ll be working with.
- Seal the DEAL!
It’s been a fun tour of this jungle ride, but now it’s time for us to go tame more beasts!! We hope you feel better equipped to do the same. Or at least more organized with the kick-off flow. 😉