Solidify, Sublime, Optimise and Ideas | Boagworld - Web & Digital Advice

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Paul Boag Posted by: Paul Boag On Thursday, 8th November, 2012

Solidify, Sublime, Optimise and Ideas

This week on the show we look at a new user testing tool, explore your multi-variance options, review Sublime text and get some design inspiration.

Season 4:
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This week on the Boagworld podcast:

Paul Boag:
This week on the Boagworld show we’re going to look at Solidify which sounds like it’s something that concrete does or – but anyway it’s called Solidify.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
We’re going to look at …

Marcus Lillington:
My interest is peaked.

Paul Boag:
Your – it peaked interest, did it?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
We’re going to look at Sublime Text, all these names sound really kind of – give you no indication of what they are, whatsoever.

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
The next one does however, Visual Website Optimizer. I like things that say what they are.

Marcus Lillington:
I know Visual Website Optimizer, I have used it.

Paul Boag:
Visual Website Optimizer and then our last one is the Web Designer’s Idea App. So that says what it does as well. So two out of four isn’t bad.

Marcus Lillington:
Notepad basically.

Paul Boag:
No, it’s not actually. That’s entirely wrong. So obviously it’s badly named then. So there we go, that’s what we have coming up on this week’s show.

Marcus Lillington:
Super super.

Paul Boag:
Joining me as always is Marcus Lillington:.

Marcus Lillington:
Hello.

Paul Boag:
I always say it seems like – it seems very formal, Marcus Lillington:.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
It should be just Marcus or ‘you’

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. They used to call me Lill at school.

Paul Boag:
Lill?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Aww. They used to call me Baoggie.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Unsurprisingly, which really matters when you’re eight.

Marcus Lillington:
I guess you couldn’t really fight that one back though, that was it.

Paul Boag:
No.

Marcus Lillington:
Accept it, laugh along with them.

Paul Boag:
No, I used to cry which is probably why they kept calling me it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
I was a sad lonely child. I bet you were really popular weren’t you because you would have been sporty.

Marcus Lillington:
I was sporty, yes.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. So if you’re not sporty, you’re doomed. They still …

Marcus Lillington:
Sporty and musical.

Paul Boag:
Oh god. Oh, you must have been obnoxious. God, you would have been unbearable. I hated kids like you.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, picked on kids like you everyday.

Paul Boag:
I bet you did, I bet you were a bully. Yeah, I bet you were a bully.

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
You were one of those bullies that didn’t know they were bullying.

Marcus Lillington:
Really?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I reckon. Have you ever been to a school reunion?

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
So, you – that’s why, if you went to a school reunion, there would be all these guys who would come up to you and say ‘no I’m not afraid of you now!’

Marcus Lillington:
‘What?”

Paul Boag:
‘Now I’m grown up. You were awful at school.’

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I potentially was awful, but afraid of, no.

Paul Boag:
I reckon. Sporty, musical, they’d all hate you.

Marcus Lillington:
Maybe. No I couldn’t face it; we’ve had them recently, and I just thought no.

Paul Boag:
It says something –

Marcus Lillington:
The problem was with it, was there was a Facebook group set up…

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
…and I got invited to it, I thought ‘oh yeah that’s quite interesting, go and have a look.’ And it was at the point when I realized that I didn’t know anyone or couldn’t remember anyone.

Paul Boag:
Really. That’s remarkable.

Marcus Lillington:
It was like ‘shit, this is going’ –

Paul Boag:
I’m still in touch with some people from school, not many.

Marcus Lillington:
The people that I’m still in touch with, fine.

Paul Boag:
All right. Right. Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
They are still friends, but the other 300 people in my year…

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
…I’m like that name means nothing to me.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Nothing at all.

Paul Boag:
All right.

Marcus Lillington:
And that one means nothing to me. It’s all so…

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
…it’s kind of like I thought this is going to be embarrassing, just don’t go.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
So I didn’t.

Paul Boag:
Well, I think it says something about my school and my year that never even thought about, there’s been no mention of having a reunion. We just – half of them will be dead now from drug overdoses and the other half…

Marcus Lillington:
That’s Dorset for you.

Paul Boag:
The other half can’t read, so they wouldn’t be able to read the invitation basically. So yeah, so they haven’t bothered.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, it’s great having Dorset to take the piss out of.

Paul Boag:
And also, I mean, there is not a lot of point of having a reunion when nobody has ever left Bramford. So…

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I…

Paul Boag:
Even I moved away and came back.

Marcus Lillington:
10 years or 20 years down the line from when I left school, we might have – it might have been more in my mind instead of…

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
…but it’s so far…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, it’s – well you are very old now.

Marcus Lillington:
I left school nearly 30 years ago.

Paul Boag:
30 years, wow. You left school when you were 10. That was impressive.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I’m 46 next year.

Paul Boag:
I know, I was trying to be nice to you.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh right.

Paul Boag:
For once; I know it confused you.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, sorry. So yeah, and these – the reunion came up a couple of years ago and it just sort of seemed so irrelevant.

Paul Boag:
Even my university – because of course you didn’t go to university because you were being a pop star at the time, even that hasn’t done a reunion. Do you know I’m beginning to think they have…

Marcus Lillington:
There is a theme here, isn’t there…

Paul Boag:
Okay. Should we move on then.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. How do you feel now, Paul? We started off with the “how do you feel, Paul”.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Let’s move on to something about web design.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, no let’s talk about shiny new Apple things.

Paul Boag:
Oh, right. Yes, the big announcement. Are you going to buy any new shiny Apple things then?

Marcus Lillington:
I can never decide which one I would buy if I was going to. What I’d really like is the new 27-inch iMac.

Paul Boag:
That iMac, that – I mean that was stunning. A stunning moment and you did – did you actually watch?

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
No, you didn’t watch that. The key – I actually sat down and watched the keynote up on stage because they actually streamed it live for a change. And there was this moment where he’s like – this iMac is on a stand and he turns it round to show you how thin it is and he does it so gently. I think he was worried about snapping it, it was that thin. It was just ridiculous.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, we had one crack the other day.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. It’s just, it’s ridiculously thin.

Marcus Lillington:
I also like the iPad mini. I like the idea of one, although I would love to use it as a phone and to have the old Nokia ringtone and go “hello!”

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that would be awesome, big like 1980 size phone.

Marcus Lillington:
Just I don’t make a lot of phone calls. I know it sounds daft but I don’t. I do a lot of texting and I think one of those would be really cracking. I wouldn’t mind looking like an idiot every time I make a call.

Paul Boag:
But you could do that with Skype. You get a Skyping number, and you can text from it. You’re not convinced.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I’m not.

Paul Boag:
No. I don’t know if I am either. It would be interesting to know how reliable it would be, probably not that reliable.

Marcus Lillington:
But – yeah, I don’t know.

Paul Boag:
They’ll probably come out with an iPhone Mac Pro soon.

Marcus Lillington:
Dan who was on the last show…

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
…who isn’t on the show, but once who said, oh my 11 inch MacBook Air is the real deal. He is not here to defend or say his piece on that. I actually think he is right. As soon as they make them powerful enough, which I think they do now…

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
…it’s the ideal machine.

Paul Boag:
Why is it the ideal machine?

Marcus Lillington:
Because it does everything and it’s still little. It’s about the size of an iPad when it’s closed.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, it’s a little bit bigger than an iPad but not a lot.

Marcus Lillington:
But not much.

Paul Boag:
No. I kind of agree. There is still a little – it depends what you’re doing. They’re a little underpowered for some things.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, that’s I think what I’m saying, is if they make it just a bit – the next one out will be as powerful as the MacBook Pro was two years ago.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
So he didn’t complain about it.

Paul Boag:
He made a very funny comment, Dan did, about the iMac and about how it’s five millimeters at the edge but it’s bulbous at the back and he said well my love handles are five millimeters at the edge. It doesn’t mean anything, does it? It is a bit of a misleading iMac.

Marcus Lillington:
It is and I’m kind of like well what’s the point because you’re never going to look at the sides of it.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I wouldn’t in my office.

Paul Boag:
No.

Marcus Lillington:
I suppose if you had a lot of them across many desks…

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
…it would look nice but…

Paul Boag:
Yes, when we bulk buy them for everybody at Headscape…

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, right.

Paul Boag:
…I wish we could do that, that would be awesome, wouldn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Well we all work from home here and there. This is the problem with the – I would love an iMac, but I have to have something that I can carry around with me. So it’s like, okay, what would I like to carry around with me, I need a laptop really. Then you think to yourself well a little tiny laptop that you can plug into a big screen.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, basically I want everything that was announced yesterday. I want an iPad mini, I’ve no idea why. My wife wants one.

Marcus Lillington:
The problem with the iPad mini, as much as I think it’s a really nice thing, it is one of the things we use Caroline’s iPad for to watch films and tele on quite a lot and I imagine that it gets a little bit rubbish together.

Paul Boag:
Well – yeah. Okay yeah. Because Kath watches stuff on her iPhone quite happily. So for her an iPad mini will be a step up. I wouldn’t want a – I don’t think I would want something that small. I do want the Mac mini because I use it – I’ve got a Mac mini at the moment that’s a server and I use it for cutting DVDs and all that kind of stuff and it’s quite an old one now and it is a bit slow. So I would like that. iMac not that fast, happy with my cinema display. And then yeah MacBook, the MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina looked quite nice as a real workhorse machine. But then I’m quite happy with my MacBook Air. I just – I want a MacBook Air with a retina screen and I’ve got quite an old MacBook Air and I would like one with a backlit keyboard which yours has got, mine hasn’t.

Marcus Lillington:
Don’t think it has.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I think you were backlit. No, you had one before me, didn’t you, so no you haven’t. So yeah, there we go. Can we now move on?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Solidify

Solidify.com homepage

Paul Boag:
Okay. So I said we were going to talk about Solidify, which is not a new type of concrete as I implied. It is actually basically usability user testing tool, right?

Marcus Lillington:
Right.

Paul Boag:
We talked about – what was it we talked about?

Marcus Lillington:
Verifyapp.

Paul Boag:
Verifyapp, didn’t we?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Verifyapp is a great tool for design testing, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
It’s brilliant if you just want to test some static comps and you want some basic, do some basic testing. Solidify gets more interesting because it’s really for quick assembly of clickable prototypes. So it’s more something that you can use for kind of showing interactions through stuff, if that makes sense.

Marcus Lillington:
Right. So it does the kind of Axure type build comps first.

Paul Boag:
Not necessarily, no. It’s more that you can create a series of page – right, it’s not for building, it’s not a prototyping tool in the same way that Axure is. It’s for testing those prototypes. Does that make sense?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
So I mean basically you can join together a series of pages. So you basically, what you would do, for example let’s say you did some sketches in by hand, even by hand you could scan them in, have a series of those, upload them to Solidify, draw boxes around clickable items and join those together and then ask users to navigate around them. So you can use it for testing concepts or sketches, it can be used for validating whole wireframes of sites, you could take an Axure site and then usability – do usability testing on that or even bringing kind of real mockups to life and that kind of stuff.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s what it says, mockups come alive.

Paul Boag:
Exactly. And then you could also do – you can do the testing on any device, so it’s a really – it’s kind of step on from Verifyapp. Verifyapp is for testing single comps while this is for kind of testing interactive prototypes, which I think looks fairly cool.

Marcus Lillington:
Looks good; quite expensive.

Paul Boag:
Oh I haven’t looked at prices, what are the prices?

Marcus Lillington:
As low as, so cheapest, $19 a month, which seems quite a lot for a tool that you might use – I suppose if you are a – particularly a designer on your own and all you do is kind of lots of mockups and that kind of thing then maybe it would be…

Paul Boag:
How does that compare to Verifyapp? Because I think – I don’t think that’s any different to Verifyapp.

Marcus Lillington:
Verifyapp you can use for free.

Paul Boag:
Can you?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, but their basic – their basic paid version is $19 per month.

Marcus Lillington:
But there’s not a – it’s not a free trial. You can – there’s a free version and that’s pretty major.

Paul Boag:
We don’t use the free version.

Marcus Lillington:
We do.

Paul Boag:
No we don’t. We pay for it. I get an invoice for it every month. I don’t think there is a free version. I think you are completely imagining that and just didn’t realize that I was paying for it.

Marcus Lillington:
I take it all back.

Paul Boag:
It’s got a 30 day free trial and then it’s as low as $19 per month.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s exactly the same.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Made by ZURBapp. Is it the same people?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, it is actually. It’s the same people. Oh, that’s really embarrassing. I should have noticed that really. This has just turned into a big love-in for ZURBapps now. ZURB are great actually. ZURB provide a whole cool set of suites. Oh look, they’ve got loads here. I’m now interested in the other stuff they’re doing.

Marcus Lillington:
Right, okay. So basically, see I mean…

Paul Boag:
Influence is another one that they do.

Marcus Lillington:
What would be cool is…

Paul Boag:
Link’s in the show notes

Marcus Lillington:
…if you had both of them…

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
…I guess, but joined together. I can understand why they wouldn’t do that, but…

Paul Boag:
They don’t make as much money, do they?

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
But I think $19 a month is pretty good for that. I mean the difference between – they’ve got a pro package the same as Verifyapp that essentially has the same price, it’s the same packages they’re offering.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
But the plus package is not really worth having it. You get demographic reports, logo customization and custom PDFs, but you don’t really need any of those.

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
Look, see they do quite a lot of apps. They’ve got – so we’ve done Verify and Solidify. They do something called Influence – there’s nothing like making this up on the show, is there – which is
“great design ideas deserve clear feedback.” So it’s Get Feedback our old app.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Now that’s interesting. This looks like a really useful tool. It’s essentially, from where I can gather, it’s a way of sharing and collecting design feedback. Oh, they got a video, I’m going to play the video. I know this is a massive tangent; this isn’t the product we’re supposed to be reviewing, but it looks cool. Let’s play the video. Hang on.

[Video playing] (15:18 to 16:50)

That is really cool. That addresses – it’s really interesting. One of the things that I talk about in –

Marcus Lillington:
We cut it all off very suddenly there.

Paul Boag:
Well that’s because –

Marcus Lillington:
I’m shocked and surprised.

Paul Boag:
It was going to into sales pitch at the end wasn’t it, like…

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, yeah.

Paul Boag:
…‘Why not contact us today?’ No. Piss off. They’re getting a free review on the site, anyway – podcast even. Right. No, that addresses brilliantly one of the – a couple of the things that I’ve said. One is that you shouldn’t just hand over to a client a JPEG.

Marcus Lillington:
Correct. So you can just basically – I couldn’t see the video from here, I imagine it’s – you basically upload a JPEG, but have a bunch of questions associated with that JPEG.

Paul Boag:
Well, yeah, I mean there’s a couple of things you can do. You could put up a whole presentation; it will take a PowerPoint presentation for example, so you could go through. And then when you show the JPEG you can have questions associated with different parts of the JPEG and that kind of thing. So ‘do you agree that this button is well placed?’ or whatever. But this addresses the problem of stuff getting handed around and people saying ‘what do you think?’ which is rubbish feedback. This replaces the thing that we’ve always done, which is the video.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
We always just do – record a screen cast video, this is a very similar kind of thing. I want to give this a go. This is quite an exciting app. So ZURBapps have got some good stuff. They’ve got Verifyapp, which we think is great. Influence, which we’ve just discovered, Solidify, which is what we’re supposed to be talking about.

Marcus Lillington:
… be talking about, yes.

Paul Boag:
Have we covered Solidify now? I think with pretty much have.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, it’s Verifyapp but with more clicky bits.

Paul Boag:
Yes. I’m sure they would love it dismissed in such a light hearted way. But yes, I mean, essentially it’s a kind of interactive, prototyping testing tool. And then they’ve got something called Notable as well, which is interface –

Marcus Lillington:
And some free ones.

Paul Boag:
Oh, have they got free ones? Where did you see the free ones then?

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, can’t remember. Oh you just want to know everything. Bottom of the page free apps, Axe, Bounce, Chop, Clue, Reel, Spur, and Strike.

Paul Boag:
Spur, that sounds a bit dodgy to me.

Marcus Lillington:
I wonder what Reel is. ReelApp.com

Paul Boag:
I’m going for Spur. “A fun and easy way to critique your website.” I think you got type in a URL, this is –

Marcus Lillington:
“Get your ideas online and start reeling in the feedback.”

Paul Boag:
What one’s that one?

Marcus Lillington:
Reel.

Paul Boag:
I’ve heard good things about these guys, but I hadn’t put together all the – I know a lot of these individual apps, but I hadn’t kind of put them altogether, if that make sense. The free one that I’ve got just it looks very, it’s not doing anything, it’s just going loading, loading, loading and a lot.

Anyway, so I think what we’re saying is check out ZURBapps.com.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, they seem to know what they’re doing.

Paul Boag:
They do. It’s brilliant.

Well I think I was possibly the most unprofessional review whatsoever. We’re going to review this – ooh, that’s shiny. That sums up my life.

Marcus Lillington:
Professional, this podcast?

Paul Boag:
No. But that I think probably is –

Marcus Lillington:
We try to be interesting, maybe.

Paul Boag:
Maybe at a push.

Marcus Lillington:
Entertaining, maybe.

Paul Boag:
Did I say that last week about –

Marcus Lillington:
Entertaining.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, how I’m just entertaining, nothing ever original, just entertaining. That’s my life. I am the joke of web design. Right, let’s move on to look at –

Marcus Lillington:
Bullied as a child.

Paul Boag:
Bullied as a child – yeah, I’m overcompensating for something. This is just going to turn into my therapy session, isn’t it? Should we move along and look at a developer app?

Marcus Lillington:
Go on then.

Sublime Text

sublimetext.com homepage

Paul Boag:
Now I’ve tried to avoid looking at this developer app because I don’t know anything about it. But actually there was so many, because you can vote on the what apps we feature if you hadn’t picked up on that already by going to boagworld.com/apps. And this particular application was voted for so many times, that I thought I cannot avoid it any longer, I must look at it. And it does look pretty slick. It’s called Sublime Text. It’s basically “a sophisticated, apparently, text editor for code, mark up and prose. You love the slick user interface extraordinary features and amazing performance.” I do love how people – Americans use superlatives.

Marcus Lillington:
Amazing.

Paul Boag:
Everything. I was sitting through the Apple keynote, me and James had – and we decided it should have been a drinking game, but he’s under aged. Just the superlatives that they use in that is amazing.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s amazing, yeah. Fantastic.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, it’s just incredible. So Sublime – yeah, ‘fantastic’. So, Sublime Text, basically it’s a text editor.

Marcus Lillington:
Woo!

Paul Boag:
Yeah. Now one of the – for a long time one of the most popular text editors out there amongst coders was something called TextMate. But then that stopped being developed and I think it’s now gone – basically the guys opened it up, so it’s – to opensource it, but it is essentially dead I think. And its most well-known successor is Sublime Text; it’s the one that everybody is getting quite excited about. So it really is quite powerful and it’s got some pretty good stuff. So I thought if they wanted me to review it on the show, then let’s make people work and explain to me why it is – Sublime Text is so great. So you’ve got a couple of reviews there haven’t you? Do you want to read back one of them? So that’s – tell me why Sublime Text rocks Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
This is from Augustine Amenabar I’m not going to do it in an accent.

Paul Boag:
No, that would be racist. Does he – he’s probably English for all you know.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, right.

Paul Boag:
He might be. He might be!

Marcus Lillington:
Anyway this is what he says – maybe it’s a he – it’s a he, I’m sure it is. “Sublime Text is FAST” (in capital letters)

Paul Boag:
Ohh

Marcus Lillington:
“Installing plugins and Snip its packages is a breeze”

Paul Boag:
One thing you have to do, one other than snarky comments…

Marcus Lillington:
I know. I can’t blame this guy’s bad writing, can I?

Paul Boag:
I suspect that’s because he’s not English. Some foreigner. ‘We don’t like foreigners down my way!’

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, that’s so true, isn’t it? And the foreigners count as people from Hampshire by the way.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, absolutely. Especially people from Hampshire.

Marcus Lillington:
Anyway so “it’s FAST. Installing plug ins, snip its packages is a breeze. All accessible from the keyboard, even FTP and GIT. But the best is multi selection. I don’t know how I ever lived without multi selection, which combined with Zen coding is just a whole package of fun efficiency.” It’s just words!

Paul Boag:
It’s just all words to you.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly. Okay “the list can go on. The fun thing is every coder out there loves it for a whole different set of things. Oh, and the cobalt color theme with some little tweaks is so very comfortable.”

Paul Boag:
So yes, so that’s one of the things you can do. He’s mentioned a couple of features there. One is that you can customize the theme to look however you want. Also he talked about was it multi selection he mentioned there? Which is pretty cool.

Marcus Lillington:
He did yes. He was very keen on multi selection.

Paul Boag:
Well multi selection is quite a cool feature. One of the things that is a pain in the arse when you’re coding – I’ll explain to you Marcus – is you might have multiple occurrences of variable through your code.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
And if you want to change that variable name, you have to go through and select each one and change it…

Marcus Lillington:
Oh right you can select all of them and change it to one, okay.

Paul Boag:
…so you can basically – yeah, you can change things in multiple locations at the same time. Also you can – say if you got several lines of code that all need to have something added to the beginning or inserted at some point in them, you can do all lines in one go. So that’s pretty cool. So I can understand him liking multi selection, does seem very cool. The one other thing that he mentions which came across a lot from the comments is that this is fast. It is a fast tool, and I think Matthew was somebody else you’ve got there who I think mentions that.

Marcus Lillington:
Mathew has quite a lot more to say.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, well I asked him for – because everybody was like ‘yeah, Sublime Text it’s great, ‘ wonderful.’ But nobody was actually really saying why and Matthew took the time to get me a full review

Marcus Lillington:
Right. Matthew Davis. Here we go, I’m going to be Matthew for a few minutes.

Paul Boag:
Sorry, go. Davies, did you say?

Marcus Lillington:
Mathew Davis.

Paul Boag:
Davis. Oh well in that case you’ve got to do it in a Welsh accent. No don’t.

Marcus Lillington:
I probably could, but I’m not going to try it. That’s too risky at the time in the morning. This is Mathew, right okay. “I’ve seen lots of people recommend Sublime Text too, but nobody has actually said why or what makes it great. Out of the box Sublime isn’t really very well optimized for development. The font is tiny, the default color scheme is horrible, there are no plugins and the whole thing looks like it’s going to be really hard work.”

Paul Boag:
Good start there. Good way of selling it.

Marcus Lillington:
“But…

Paul Boag:
But? Hh, but here we go.

Marcus Lillington:
“…If you persevere with it for a while and take the time to read some tutorials and set things up the way you like, especially installing package control, that’s amazing, it becomes one of the best text editors I’ve ever used. Add to that it’s extremely, insanely fast. I can search through a whole project’s worth of files in a matter of fractions of a second and I can switch between files just as quickly. It has multiple cursors, which until you’ve tried them and forced yourself to use them don’t seem like they will be useful for too much, but now I find that I use them literally hundreds of times a day.” Multiple cursors?

Paul Boag:
I think that’s the same as multiple selections but I might be wrong.

Marcus Lillington:
“There are a staggering amount of plugins available for it that extend the functionality even further. You can add syntax definitions, color schemes, sidebar commands, user interface enhancements and practically anything else you need it to do in seconds. And if something doesn’t exist you can create it yourself and share it with the world. There’s a massive community around and it’s backwards compatible with TextMate bundles. And by no means least is the fact that it’s cross browser compatible…

Paul Boag:
That’s good.

Marcus Lillington:
“I’m Mac based, but some of my colleagues are on Windows machines and I can share my settings files with them, themes, plugins et cetera and they all just work. I’ve also got my settings synced with dropbox between machines, so that if I install a plugin at work, I get home and it’s installed on my laptop machine too. It’s an amazing application and easily the best text editor I’ve ever used. Even though in the first 20 minutes of trying it, I swear I’d never be able to get my head round it. You just have to stick with it. Hope that clarifies some of the benefits, if you need persuading anymore just holler! :-)”.

Paul Boag:
Thanks for adding the emoticon there, that’s much appreciated. I have to say, I’m sitting here watching – they got a little demo on their site that’s kind of going through some of its features and it does look like a really good text editor. For me it’s a walnut – no, it’s a sledgehammer…

Marcus Lillington:
It’s a walnut!

Paul Boag:
…to crack a walnut, is the phrase.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
I think this is for a proper developer. I think if you’re very keyboard centric, if you’d – you’re writing code all of the time, if you’re doing complicated stuff, this is the tool for you.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
Anything that has got find and replace that uses regular expressions, suddenly it’s – I’m rubbish at writing regular expressions. So there’s a certain level of person. This is isn’t for, I don’t think really for a designer that codes as well, I think this is for proper coders. But that said, it looks absolutely amazing. If you are that person, I think – it is so configurable, I think that’s the big thing. It has this amazing kind of plugin architecture to it and it allows you to jump round the code, it’s very keyboard centric. So absolutely brilliant, if you’re a developer, definitely a worthy success for TextMate. But I didn’t understand TextMate so I doubt I’ll understand this either. So let’s move on before I show my ignorance.

Visual Website Optimizer vs Google Content Experiments

visualwebsiteoptimizer.com Homepage

Paul Boag:
So next up is something for you website owners out there. We are going to talk about A/B and multi variant testing. If you’re not doing this already on your site, you should be. It’s a really good practice to get into in order to evolve your site over time. The trouble is so many people basically build a website, launch it, they maybe change the content a bit, but other than that the site stagnates. And we need to get away from thinking that a website is something that you launch and it’s done. It really isn’t. It’s – when you launch it, you’re just starting with the process. That’s when you then need to start getting into kind of this iterative evolution of your website. Now one of the ways that you can do that is through user testing, for example Steve Krug in his book Rocket Surgery Made Easy recommends monthly usability testing, which is great and definitely something you should consider doing. Another thing is to look at your analytics and to – you can learn a lot about how the site can be improved through doing that.

But the third option is to do some A/B multi variant testing. Basically A/B and multi variant essentially the same thing. A/B as the name implies is testing…

Marcus Lillington:
Two options, Multivariate is multiple options.

Paul Boag:
Exactly. So there are lots of tools out there that can help with this kind of testing. The – probably the best, the most well-known is what was Google Website Optimizer that now has been integrated into Google Analytics. So once you’re logged into Google Analytics and you’re looking up an individual domain, if you click on content and then there’s a section called experiment, you can then set up Google testing there. Now there’s a little video. Shall we play the little video? we seem to be into playing videos today.

Marcus Lillington:
Go on then do the video.

Paul Boag:
All right. Let’s do the video. Here we go.

Paul Boag:
[during video] Oh she’s got such an irritating voice.

Marcus Lillington:
[during video] She’s making me grit my teeth.

[during video] Turn her off now before I break something.

Paul Boag:
[during video] I’ve turned her off.

Marcus Lillington:
[during video] No you haven’t

Paul Boag:
[during video] Oh, she’s still going! Shut up woman! God, bloomin’ heck. there we go, I thought I turned her off.

Marcus Lillington:
There we go.

Paul Boag:
It’s all okay.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s quite good, the bit about it turns itself off…

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
…if the original is still the winner. That’s quite clever. But –

Paul Boag:
But – but?

Marcus Lillington:
With Google Website Optimizer or content-whatever-it’s-called-now…

Paul Boag:
Experiment, yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
… you have to create all the pages separately and upload them and all that kind of stuff…

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
… which is a bit tedious.

Paul Boag:
It is a bit tedious and that’s where we come on to an alternative product that you might want to try out. I mean Google Content Experiments or whatever it’s called is great because it’s free, right. So this other one that I’m going to mention is not free, but it has got certain advantages over it. It’s called visualwebsiteoptimizer.com spelt in the American way, is ending in zees.

Marcus Lillington:
‘mizzzzer’

Paul Boag:
‘mizer’.

Marcus Lillington:
‘mizer’.

Paul Boag:
‘mizer’. Yeah, and it has got certain advantages over Google Website Optimizer. First thing is that you don’t have to mess around with code at all. You have to copy and paste –

Marcus Lillington:
Stick some code in and that’s it.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. But everything else is visual, so you can – instead of changing whole pages, which is your point, you’re changing just individual bits of it, so you can change a headline, an image, a button, a form, whatever else rather than everything which is great.

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve used it.

Paul Boag:
Oh have you?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Oh, right, because I haven’t. What was your impression of it then?

Marcus Lillington:
Very good indeed.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
Very easy to use. Basically we were changing the labeling on buttons…

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
…for the Bluecross.

Paul Boag:
Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
Because it was a different adopting and rehoming or something like so had some with adopt, some with rehome, but also there’s some smaller descriptive text underneath and we changed that.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
I think with four different options.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
And you know, you can do exactly what the annoying women was saying about, you can set up – but you can make the percentages different between say the original and the new ones.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
Why you would ever want to do that, I don’t know, but you can.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. Well because if you get a huge amount of traffic on your site and its business critical you probably only wanted to test a tiny grid.

Marcus Lillington:
Only wanted to test a little tiny bit, yeah, okay. Good point, well made, Paul.

Paul Boag:
That’s all right, that’s okay, that’s why I’m here.

Marcus Lillington:
And the results reporting was really simple to understand.

Paul Boag:
Yes. That’s one thing they say here. It looks like the interface for reporting is really good. It’s real time interface, real time reporting as well which is very good.

Marcus Lillington:
So you can have great fun, just keep –

Paul Boag:
‘oh, Dan!’

Marcus Lillington:
Dan in the office ‘can you help?’ Go and have a look at the page ‘which one are you seeing?’ Then it goes pop on – in the reporting.

Paul Boag:
Oh that’s kind of cool. They also have got behavioral and geo targeting as well. In other words, it’s like a whole load of – you can say people that are in Paris on a PC that have come from Facebook see version B. But people from New York who are on a Mac who come from Google see version A. So that’s quite nice.

Marcus Lillington:
Again struggling to see why you’d want to do that?

Paul Boag:
I think if you – because I think there are situations where if you’re trying to reach a particular audience, say you’re trying to reach – you’re having problems converting people in America.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
So you want to show them a different version.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
And experiment with that version with them.

Marcus Lillington:
Right.

Paul Boag:
Make sense?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. Okay.

Paul Boag:
You’re still not convinced.

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
That’s okay. Well it’s not for everybody.

Marcus Lillington:
There was more a case of why would – somebody on a PC, somebody on the Mac?

Paul Boag:
Oh, yeah I think they’ve gone a bit overboard – but no there are cases if you’re selling a PC –

Marcus Lillington:
We’re not selling to Mac users, I suppose.

Paul Boag:
Yeah or if your Sublime Text, that we were talking about earlier that are cross platform and you seem to be selling a lot into the Mac community, but not as it many into the PC and that’s because you might – you think it might be because PC users are worried that this might be malware, so you want to put a notice on there that reassures them about that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yep. Yep.

Paul Boag:
I don’t know, I’m stretching a bit, but you get the kind of idea. They also have got heat maps and click maps, which is good as well, that you can see where people’s cursors have moved and what they’ve clicked on and that kind of thing, which is brilliant.

And now I’m going to sneeze. No, no I’m not going to sneeze. Oh that’s really annoying, you know when you’re on the edge of sneezing?

Marcus Lillington:
It’s just the life on the edge with you, isn’t it Paul?

Paul Boag:
Oh it’s all action and excitement – no.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, am I going to be deafened?

Paul Boag:
Nope. No, it’s all right. It’s gone, it’s gone. I’m fine.

Marcus Lillington:
But it hasn’t gone, has it? It’s going to suddenly come back.

Paul Boag:
It will do suddenly. Usability test – it’s got all kinds of stuff. Go and check – this is the point we’ve got to – ‘oh just look at the website.’ ‘Work it out for yourself.’

Marcus Lillington:
It is good. I can personally recommend.

Paul Boag:
Personally recommend.

Marcus Lillington:
What was it called? Visual Website Optimizer.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
And – yes, very good.

Paul Boag:
Now let’s have a look at pricing, we haven’t looked to pricing on this one. Let’s have a look, see what it’s got. Right, basically it starts, small business at $49 per month. And that will allow you to test up to 10,000 visitors per month. But it allows you to run as many simultaneous tests as you want. Then it kind of increases to a small agency of 30,000 visitors can be tested a month and that’s $129 and then it just gets silly after that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah basically, but you can use it for – you can pay for a month and do the test. It goes away.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, absolutely, and then turn off again, yeah. So, looks brilliant, highly recommend it. You’ve got a 30 day free trials, so why not give it a go on your own website?

Marcus Lillington:
The free trial is limited to 1,000 users.

Paul Boag:
Yeah – but that, you know, fair enough. I presume your website doesn’t just stop working at that point and it just –

Marcus Lillington:
No, but your test stops working and you can only – and if you filled up one test with it you can’t do another one.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
So it is quite limited.

Web Designer’s Idea App

The web designers Idea iPad app

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that is quite limited. But anyway, let’s move on to our mobile app of the week.

All right so we come to our mobile app, which is always on kind of random entry at the end of it. And it’s something that I have been meaning to review for ever and ever and ever and ever. It comes from a guy called Patrick McNeil, who does – who has for years run a website called designmeltdown.com. You may remember it? No, you don’t.

Marcus Lillington:
It rings a bell.

Paul Boag:
And he’s now produced an iPad app. Right, designmeltdown.com is essentially a website – a glorified gallery of cool web design, okay. But unlike a lot of the galleries you go to, it’s quite heavily curated and it’s quite heavily structured. So for example, you can go in and say ‘show me designs that are brown’. Right? If you got to work with a brown color scheme and you want some inspiration. Or you can say ‘show me only eCommerce sites’ or ‘show me websites that have gradients’ or whatever else criteria there are.

Marcus Lillington:
A useful tool then.

Paul Boag:
Yes, it is a useful tool. I have slightly mixed feelings about this kind of thing, because I think showing a whole website does encourage plagiarism, right.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Showing little bits of design elements is fine. And that’s not Patrick’s fault, that’s how you choose to use this. It is an incredibly valuable resource and I do recommend checking it out. But the – you need to be careful you’re stealing a whole designs here. So it is a fine line, but it is really useful. He’s done a whole series of books called Idea Books, which feature different websites and stuff like that, that are great. What I want to mention today is the iPad app that he’s got here and essentially it’s packed with all the kind of samples from his volume 1–2 of his book. So that’s like more than 1,200 web designs to inspire you and they’re all organized very nicely into all these different categories that he has so you can browse by style and theme. They’re really high resolution, nice screen shots. You can view stuff in it – so there’s a slide show, you can assemble your own favorites, that kind of stuff.

So it is a very, very good tool. It’s a great way of kind of looking for inspiration and getting yourself thinking, because there’s nothing worse when you’re in – you’re doing the design process than that blank page syndrome.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes

Paul Boag:
It’s also, I think, excellent if you’re somebody that assembles mood boards. It’s a great source to go and find different things for mood boards to get you going as well. And the great thing is, is if you’re using it for the creation of mood boards you’re going to be taking bits out of the design. So that will stop you plagiarizing and falling into that trap. Because I think a lot of people end up plagiarizing that without actually meaning to; it just kind of happens. So that would help with that.

So you can find out more about that in the show notes because we’ll put a link to it, the app is $6.99, and that’s dollars so I think that’s very reasonable for what it is. There’s also all of his books as well, which you might want to check out, really nice books, they’re all beautifully presented. And those are available on Amazon, but – as physical books but also on the Kindle and iBooks. How well they would work on the Kindle, I’m not so sure, because they’re such visual books. But you might want to check it out.

Definitely – now I’m burping, what’s wrong with me? I’m falling apart. Yeah, definitely worth checking out, really good app and really great site as well. He has been a little bit naughty that he’s kind of hidden away the designmeltdown.com stuff where all this content’s given away for free and tried to encourage you to buy it. And all his more recent stuff, is in his apps and in his books. Which is fair enough, this is a guy trying to make a living, so it’s not really naughty, I guess, at all.

Okay, I think that about wraps us up for the show.

Marcus Lillington:
Are we wrapped up are we, already?

Paul Boag:
Well, we are…

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, no, we’ve been going at it quite a while.

Paul Boag:
Yeah I would have thought so. That intro went on for like six hours talking about my therapy and you know all the rest of it.

Marcus Lillington:
At least, yeah. Proper drivel.

Hello, Paul.

Paul Boag:
I’m waiting for – I’m presuming you’re going to tell a joke. You’ve picked up the iPhone like you were.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s joke time.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
This is from Scott. Here we go. An Englishman, Scotsman, Welshman, and Irishman are in a pub. Okay here we go for a racist joke …

Paul Boag:
Yeah. Well you’ve already dug a hole for yourself…

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I know.

The Englishmen says “I’ve got to get home see my son, it’s his birthday.” The Scotsman asks “what’s his name?” the Englishmen replies “his name is George, because he was born on St. George’s Day.” The Scotsman shocked, replies “that’s quite a coincidence, I’ve got a son called Andrew, he was born on St. Andrew’s Day.” The Welshman looks up and proclaims “that’s unbelievable, I’ve got a son called David, who was born on St. David’s Day.” The three look at the Irishman who is shaking his head in disbelief. He says “can’t be, this is incredible, wait until I tell pancake!”

Paul Boag:
Oh, that’s a good joke. I like that one a lot. Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
It could have been the Englishman; it could have been the Scotsman…

Paul Boag:
Oh you don’t have to cover yourself, we know that Irish people are thick. Oh, dear. We’ve got several clients in Ireland, haven’t we? Yeah, we have. Oh, dear, they’re – bye, bye, thank you for working with us.

So there we go that wraps up this week show. As always please, please review us on iTunes. Also go to boagworld.com/apps and let us know your suggestions for applications. I’ve now officially run out of applications to review.

Marcus Lillington:
So that’s that then.

Paul Boag:
So that’s that and with – this season is going to go on until Christmas, so we’ve got a few weeks to fill yet. So there we go, so I need some app suggestions, please let me know. And tune in next week for my sneeze.

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