Start by inspiring.
It means not starting with a site strategy document. Don’t start with technical requirements. And, heaven forbid, don’t start with wireframes.
Start with a simple question: why should this site (or solution) exist? The way we answer this question needs to inspire our team, and inspire our client. Not, “what does the site need to do.” Not, “how is the site going to work.” Ask, “why should this site (or solution) exist.” Sure, the “what” and “how” are important questions, but they don’t answer the inspiration question. Why a solution exists is the question that every step, from pitching the client to delivering the solution, should answer.
If the client is excited about the idea, if they’re inspired, they will trust you to do whatever you feel necessary to see this inspiration realized. It makes all the steps (the what and how parts) easy because the client believes in the idea and realize the experts will turn the idea into implementation. As I said a couple years ago, a combination of passion + trust can accomplish great things.
End with inspiration realized.
Inspiration realized is essentially the “because” to the question of “why does this solution exist.” This is the conceptual idea and design language. It’s the digital brand strategy. It’s the technical and functional answers that makes the solution work. It’s all the thinking and doing built on the passion and the trust.
What we have found is until clients are inspired about a solution, the design, technology and implementation don’t matter a lick. So the first step, if it even qualifies as a step, is inspiring. Inspiring gets everyone excited about the idea, not hung up on the design and technology. It starts a relationship based on passion and trust. And being excited about the idea invests everyone in answering “why.”
p.s. Know that by saying “end with inspiration realized” it doesn’t mean stop thinking, analyzing and improving a solution. Inspiration realized is merely the first step in discovering new inspiration.