Sharing a Project in Process / by Matthew Cook

Really cool stuff is going down.

I’m on a project right now with SuperFriendly; we’re going to tear the entire thing open and put it up on the internet as it happens. This includes meeting details, conversations, builds in process, notes, and even some files. It will all happen via posts like this online across multiple sites. I couldn’t be more excited. Let’s dig in. 

A number of weeks ago SuperFriendly and Dan Mall received an email from Reading is Fundamental (RIF), they were interested in updating their website. I’ll admit, I didn’t know much of RIF before the email conversations started flowing, so I dug into the internet to learn more. I found this, this, and this. I was sold.

We took RIF through our normal process for new clients. After introductions we asked a good bit of questions via email (some hard and some easy), which set the tone for our first call really well and got the broad strokes of what our relationship could look like down in writing. Our first call was surprisingly awesome. Those guys just make you wish you could high five people through the phone. Stepping back from that call, and one follow-up, we had most of the information we needed to start crafting a project and process. I ran through multiple sets of numbers and several months worth of calendar while Dan started talking to some SuperFriends (enter Noah Stokes and Kevin Hoffman). Dan also threw Josh Luciano in at this point. He’d been crushing his work recently and needed something more worthy of his time and talent. 

We came back to RIF with three different ballpark prices and structures, hammered through some more details on what the project needed to cover and wrapped up our preliminary conversations with a fully drafted statement of work and schedule. 

Since signing stuff and passing some money, we’ve had multiple group calls, a full day kickoff in Washington DC, and a good bit of brainstorming. I can’t take you back in time and put you in a chair during those events, but I can share some of my favorite notes coming out of those meetings.

Quotes direct from RIF about what success looks like for them personally:

  • “Really good communication”.
  • “Don’t forget we’re a non-profit”.
  • Hitting the mark on “time and budget”.
  • “My fear is [website] support”, speaking of what SuperFriendly builds and how we follow through.
  • “Everybody gets to go home at 5:30”, speaking about how effective SuperFriendly is at making this project work and not creating problems.

I think the best warning RIF issued to us was when they said they would love to see the website “drive the organization” in donations and brand presence. Shows the mentality they’re entering this project with.

I also think the best compliment they paid us was when they said “you guys, even in thinking, are going above and beyond”. Wow, big statement to live up to!

I love writing down quotes. It shows the honest opinion of our client at any given point, and gives us a great way to measure our success. If they’re still worried about a certain point, or we start slipping on one of their personal success factors, we’re doing something wrong. It’s black and white.

A few more notes I came away with that I want to share, not in order of importance:

  • We need to limit recommendations we make to RIF about social usage, and make sure those recommendations, if implemented, would be effective.
  • We should explore capitalizing on nostalgia (Owl Moon for me).
  • Site analytics and donation analytics are really important, and a good measure of whether we’re doing our job right.
  • We need to find ways to get rid of book data entry for RIF.
  • How can we know what people want to donate? That’s really powerful.

We built our SOW and kickoff meeting around the broad strokes and following details in the early calls, but a lot of our strategies and tactics also grow from situational details with the team, secondary objectives, and goals that we discover and set during kickoffs and brainstorming. 

I hope this is a healthy window into the beginning of our project. What I’m really trying to hit on is the assembly of cohesive plans and documentation based on information that comes from every direction in multiple places at multiple times. It’s really exciting to me to help engineer the compilation of everything needed to create success.

Looking forward to sharing more really soon! In the mean time, check out other perspectives on the beginning of this project from other team members who wrote some stuff:

Dan Mall - Head Honcho

Josh Luciano - Design Dude