Schemas, RSS and the beginning of all things

This week on Boagworld we talk schemas, ask whether there is still a role for RSS and talk about our first ever client.

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Paul Boag:
This week on Boagworld we talk schemas, ask whether there’s still a role for RSS and talk about our first ever client.

Paul Boag:
Hello and welcome to season 6, episode 2 of the Boagworld podcast. Joining me today on today’s professional slick introductory episode. Damn, as soon as I said the word slick it fell apart.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, or professional, one of the two. Pick whichever.

Paul Boag:
I am joined by Marcus Lillington:. Hello, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
Hello, Paul. How are you?

Paul Boag:
I am very well. And by Leigh Howells: good to have you back, Leigh.

Leigh Howells:
Yes. Hello, Paul. Hello, Marcus. Thank you for having me on.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. So, listener just prepare – prepare yourself for a lot of giggling.

Paul Boag:
We’re down to one now, are we?

Marcus Lillington:
Listener.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. You said listener.

Marcus Lillington:
Whenever Leigh’s on the show, we just spend the whole time giggling like schoolgirls.

Leigh Howells:
Is it because I’m the other listener? So now I’m on…

Paul Boag:
We barely manage to, actually, get around to starting the show because, we were already off on one, weren’t we, before we hit the record button.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, we are doing our usual we deserve all sorts of new gadgets, on the company.

Paul Boag:
Toys. Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Because we use them for work.

Paul Boag:
This is my best one, right? I was lying in bed last night because I’ve discovered – I’ve decided it’s time that I needed to replace my glasses. I’ve had this pair of glasses for ten years.

Leigh Howells:
You use them for work, everyday.

Paul Boag:
That’s what I was thinking.

Leigh Howells:
And your clothes, and your shoes, everyday to work.

Paul Boag:
You know I don’t come to work naked. So, therefore, the company should pay for all of these things.

Leigh Howells:
Absolutely.

Paul Boag:
So, I found a pair of glasses that cost 600 pounds.

Leigh Howells:
Oh not Google glasses then, which you could actually come up with some reason why you actually needed them.

Paul Boag:
No, there is no – testing.

Marcus Lillington:
Testing?

Paul Boag:
It’s just typical, what is it with me? I walk into an optician’s. First pair of glasses that I pick up and fall in love with are the most expensive in the entire shop.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah. Don’t try them on till you’ve looked at the price tag.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. It was a mistake. So, anyway, so I am going to try and charge it to the company….

Marcus Lillington:
Well that’s proof, Paul, that you get what you pay for in life. Isn’t it?

Paul Boag:
Not really. No, because they were massively overpriced for what they were in my opinion.

Marcus Lillington:
But you were drawn to them.

Paul Boag:
Yes, I was.

Leigh Howells:
Naturally expensive taste. That’s what it is, gravitated towards the expensive.

Paul Boag:
I am used to certain standard of living, you see.

Marcus Lillington:
Certain standard of living and you are a professional.

Paul Boag:
I am a professional. So, I’ve got to have a pretentious pair of glasses.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely I hope they are very narrow.

Paul Boag:
They’re completely rimless. Right, and you can customize the side bits, the bridge, the whole…

Marcus Lillington:
That’s what old people wear. Yeah, you look….

Paul Boag:
Really stylish.

Leigh Howells:
We’ll be the judge of that.

Paul Boag:
But they don’t when they are on my face.

Leigh Howells:
So, you look like a kind of, 65-year old professor.

Paul Boag:
I feel I’m kind of heading in that direction really.

Leigh Howells:
I mean, we all are.

Paul Boag:
Embracing the age.

Marcus Lillington:
There’s more grey hair in this room then there’s dark.

Leigh Howells:
No, we’re not going to have a grey hair conversation. Because it happens every time. Age and grey hair.

Marcus Lillington:
I look at you.

Leigh Howells:
Then you look at me…

Marcus Lillington:
And I think grey hair.

Leigh Howells:
Then we say, oh, it’s more white. That’s the next thing, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Do you know, Leigh, it’s a bit more white actually.

Leigh Howells:
Yes, it is.

Paul Boag:
Okay. We’re all young at heart.

Leigh Howells:
Yes, hurrah.

Paul Boag:
I for one am interested in us coming up ways to charge our gadgets to the company.

Leigh Howells:
You just have to use them for work every day.

Paul Boag:
Because I want – I really want this new generation of iPad. It looks really good.

Marcus Lillington:
Well I want the iPad mini. And I said to Caroline, my wife when we were on – heading off on holiday. I think I’m going to buy one of these. And she said well you don’t need one of those, do you. I’m like no – but, I need it for work. And she said, well get work to pay for it then. And I was like, okay. I’ll see what I can do.

Paul Boag:
Basically you’re stuck between your wife and Chris.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
Neither of which are willing to pay for it.

Marcus Lillington:
What a horrible place to be.

Leigh Howells:
My iPad mini money, I had to pay…

Paul Boag:
Your iPad mini money.

Leigh Howells:
I had to pay maxi money for my dog, as extra kennel fees after its tail bled everywhere. £400 because they took the dog to the vet three times. I’d sort it out with a sock and some gaffer tape.

Marcus Lillington:
Mind you, the kennels, two weeks – two dogs for two weeks in the kennels is I don’t know…

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, I had to pay that as well.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s like £500, £600.

Paul Boag:
You have to pay extra when you put your child in the kennel. They’re really fussy about it. Awesome, if you could do that with kids.

Marcus Lillington:
What, put them in the dog kennel.

Paul Boag:
Well not a dog kennel, a kid’s kennel, I am sure there must be something like that.

Leigh Howells:
It’s called foster care.

Paul Boag:
Shall we talk about web designs?

Leigh Howells:
No.

Paul Boag:
Please, could we vaguely try and keep this show on track because otherwise, it’s going to be the longest show ever. I am using my teacher voice.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Everyone, behave yourself. We’re now going to…

Leigh Howells:
Don’t want to be accused of pointless waffle.

Paul Boag:
I think it’s too late for that. We are now going to start with our first question. So, Marcus, do you want to tell us what our first question is?

What the hell is schema.org?

How should I use the schemas provided by schema.org. The documentation is all very technical.

Eric Van Hold

Marcus Lillington:
This is from Eric Van Hold. That’s kind of a good name.

Leigh Howells:
Is this Marcus’ role now? He reads out the questions – so he does something.

Paul Boag:
Yeah! So he’s pretending he has a role on this show.

Leigh Howells:
He doesn’t have to find anything, like the answers or anything.

Paul Boag:
No. The fact that I find the questions for him, all he has to do is read them.

Marcus Lillington:
I will read this question out and you can answer it, okay. This one is for you, Leigh Howells:.

Leigh Howells:
Yes, go for it.

Marcus Lillington:
I really like the names of the people today, to the point that I am not sure they are real.

Paul Boag:
They are…

Marcus Lillington:
But this guy [ph] Eric Van Hold (6:20), so [ph] Eddie Van Halen (6:25) something you can get. Anyways how should I use the schemas provided by schema.org, the documentation is all very technical? So Leigh could you tell us. And I don’t know isn’t a valid answer.

Leigh Howells:
What does schema mean? I’m looking at the page actually I don’t really understand any of this. HTML, I recognize that. Avatar, I get that. I haven’t the faintest idea.

Paul Boag:
Now what’s quite interesting about this question is neither do I.

Marcus Lillington:
Don’t look at me. I’m off going to find a joke for the end of the show.

Paul Boag:
This is the kind of area that quite interests me really because this is all kind of semantic web stuff.

Leigh Howells:
Micro data.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, because it goes back to – so essentially just to explain what this is, so you have got Google, Bing and Yahoo, all got together and have created a schema in other words a way of marking up certain types of information in a way that Google and Bing and Yahoo understand that data.

So for example, if you had a scenario where you were showing events on your website, right? And you obviously for an event you have a title, you have a start date, and a start time and end date and an end time and various other bits and pieces associated with that. You as a human being can look at that event and go that’s an event. But Google, Yahoo and Bing don’t know that, they don’t understand that it’s an event so what they’ve done is produced a schema which is a way of marking it up to essentially say this is an event, right.

Marcus Lillington:
Doesn’t Facebook do something similar as well?

Paul Boag:
Yes. Facebook have got Open Graph, which has got that kind of stuff. Even Twitter do it to some limited extent with their Twitter Cards. So you could say this is a video or this is a picture, or you know this is the title for this link or whatever.

Marcus Lillington:
So you did not know that. I am pointing by the way.

Paul Boag:
In an accusatory tone can you have a tone when you’re pointing.

Leigh Howells:
How did Marcus know that, how did he know it?

Paul Boag:
Because we were talking about in on last week’s show.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I read it.

Paul Boag:
Did you? You actually read stuff? What one of my posts?

Marcus Lillington:
No, it was on A List Apart.

Paul Boag:
Well there you go. So this is a really interesting area to me at the moment because this is going to become a bigger and bigger thing. Have I talked on the show about my belief that we are going to – we’re moving into a post-GUI age, have I talked about that before?

Marcus Lillington:
Maybe, but I – obviously I blank out most things you say, Paul.

Paul Boag:
I was talking about, I think I was talking about this. No, it was on a Smash Magazine video that I was – interview I was doing. Yes I think we’re kind of teetering on the edge.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s Google glasses, isn’t it?

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
And we are going to be – it’s all going to be just pumped straight into our brain.

Paul Boag:
Well almost, and in fact, we are kind of on the edge of it, alright. To me this is the kind of – you know how since, what was it 2006 we’ve been going, you need to sort yourself out for mobile, you need to sort yourself out – and then eventually it’s kind of just happened. Well I’m now going to repeat this with – you need sort yourself out for post-GUI.

Leigh Howells:
What do you mean by post-GUI?

Paul Boag:
Post-GUI, right graphic user interface.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, I got that bit.

Paul Boag:
Well I was doing it to the listener. I wasn’t patronizing you.

Leigh Howells:
You’re just patronizing the listener.

Paul Boag:
Have you used a computer before? So, at the moment the way that we access data is through a graphic user interface, isn’t it? We sit down at a computer. We type in a load of stuff into Google or whatever, we go to websites, right? But we’re about to hear and we already are beginning to hear, a kind of post-GUI stage for example Siri, right. With Siri you don’t go, you know you say ‘Siri, show me movie listings’, and it doesn’t shove you off to a site.

Marcus Lillington:
And then you say ‘Siri, show me movie listing’. That’s what you do, isn’t it.

Paul Boag:
I think I must have a really good voice for the voice dictation because I’ve never had a problem with it.

Leigh Howells:
It was programmed with a slight West country accent. It’s part of its algorithm.

Paul Boag:
I think it’s because I am so used to being surrounded by sick people, that I speak very slowly and very clearly.

Marcus Lillington:
Now is that a go at us or the people of Blandford?

Paul Boag:
Both. So, but with Siri, you see, it doesn’t return – turn you to a website, it pulls the data back directly.

Leigh Howells:
‘No I don’t understand that, would you like me to do a web search?’

Paul Boag:
Yeah. That’s its kind of fallback is the web search but if it goes to web search, it’s really failed, doesn’t it, as an application? So the idea is that you’ve got this little bit of module of data is pulling back. Google Glasses is another great example of this. You’re not going to be able to return entire websites, you know in Google Glasses, can you imagine that.

It would be very peculiar. So we are kind of entering this age where the how our data is marked up and marking it up semantically so bits and pieces can be pulled back is going to become more important. So, for example I can see a situation before too long where you could say to something like Google Glasses, something along the lines of show me every U.K. web design company, or, no, let me reword that. Show me charity websites designed by U.K. web design companies. Right? And what we have to do at the moment for a search like that is you have go on to Google, you have to type in –charity websites U.K. companies – go into each of those.

To the Headscape site, for example, go to the portfolio section, filter that by just charity websites and then go out of that to another website, repeat process and so on. Now, if the data was marked up appropriately, right, what something like Google Glasses could do is just pull back picture after picture after picture of websites that are charity websites built by U.K. web design companies.

Leigh Howells:
Alright. So, perhaps images would be marked up with that kind of data to describe them other than just old text and things like that.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. So, you could do that for events, you could do that for videos, you can do that for all kinds of data. And if, you look threw at schema.org, it’s actually got this huge set of different schemas. And I’m sure that they’re kind of expanding at all the time which has got loads of different things you can mark up from events, to organizations, to people, places, products, offers, reviews, ratings, restaurants.

Leigh Howells:
Are these kind of predefined things?

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Leigh Howells:
Okay. So, there’s set way to do a particular…

Paul Boag:
Yeah and these are a set way defined by Google, Bing and Yahoo. Now, there’s actually from what I can gather – my knowledge on this is very limited. And what I’m hoping is that the guys that are listening to this. You guys probably know more about this than I do and please post in the comments about this. But, my understanding is that – this is what was trying to be achieved for the longest time with XML.

Leigh Howells:
And micro formats.

Paul Boag:
And micro formats. Yeah. But, the problem with it – with XML is that there was no kind of agreement on what the structure was.

Leigh Howells:
Which is, yeah, I like the fact this is defined.

Paul Boag:
Someone has defined it.

Leigh Howells:
So you don’t have to think about it. You get to this nebulous point: so what are all the things you need for a restaurant? I don’t know.

Paul Boag:
And you know, just because you might have defined things in a certain way, it doesn’t mean Google understands it.

Leigh Howells:
That’s the problem, isn’t it. Yeah, if it’s a set way.

Paul Boag:
This is a kind of basis to begin working on. So, it basically involves adding a lot of metadata into your website. Now, there are plug-ins out there to make that a bit easier for you. So, for example, there’s a WordPress plug-in that does this linking the show notes to that. And different systems make it easier to implement that kind of thing.

What I’m kind of stuck on with it all is I don’t know how much this is being used. The kind of question Eric is basically getting at and I’ve kind of cut down his email that he wrote to me. He’s saying is this worth it? Is it worth the effort of going and adding all this metadata? And that’s the unknown factor at the moment. Because you don’t know how much Google or Yahoo or Bing are actually using this kind of data.

We do know that they do some of this kind of stuff. So, for example, I’m just trying to think of an example, now shopping for example. If you mark up products in a proper way, it will appear under the shopping section on Google.

Marcus Lillington:
What was the contacts thing that went around for a while?

Leigh Howells:
Microform.

Marcus Lillington:
Does that get used at all now or has it kind of died?

Paul Boag:
It’s kind of died a bit of a death. It never really – it was one of those kind of circular…

Marcus Lillington:
Sorry I wasn’t listening by the way, you talked about that. I’m reading jokes for later.

Paul Boag:
It’s one of those kind of circular things where you had well nobody can be really bothered to mark up stuff in micro format because nobody has created anything that uses it and nobody creates anything to use it because nobody has marked it up.

Leigh Howells:
And that’s what you just alluded to here. So is it being used so is it worth doing it.

Paul Boag:
Well this is the question? Yeah. I mean but the difference here is you’ve got three massive names in search that are basically saying we are going use to this data. How much they’re using it right now is not so clear or at least from my very scant reading on this. And again guys if you know more about this please go along to boagworld.com/season/5, are we on or 6?

Marcus Lillington:
Six.

Leigh Howells:
Series six.

Paul Boag:
Select episode two and post your comments on it because I’d like to learn to about this. But I think you can be fairly confident they will be doing more and more of this stuff and it’s the way things are going.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, and it would become huge if it gave you some visibility where there wasn’t visibility before – or some advantage in search results generally.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. I mean, I think more and more they’re going to be pulling – because it is better quality data as far as Google is concerned.

Leigh Howells:
Yes, structured.

Paul Boag:
And it allows you to do loads more with the data because it’s structured in a particular way. Now where you get into interesting things of course is that where previously a user would have to go to your website to see an event, which means they’re supposed to your brand and all your other messaging and stuff. Now, we’re going to begin to enter a world where that data is essentially going to be pulled out, might be displayed on the Google website or it might be displayed in your heads-up display or in your iPhone. So you lose a lot of that other contact. So, data that you produce has to stand alone.

Leigh Howells:
Yes, it’s true, I mean, like in image search now you might grab the image but you may never go through to the site that the image came from ever. Not so much with the basic search results but yeah images and shopping is another one. Yeah.

Paul Boag:
So, I think there will be more and more of that which does create some really interesting challenges for website owners in creating content that is kind of modular and standalone in its own right. So, I’ll be quite interested to see how that kind of – that pans out over the coming years.

I think at the moment, it’s very easy to be kind of thinking just in terms of data, like an event, that’s a very kind of nicely modular event. But, I think, increasingly you’ll see it for other stuff as well. Like the fact that there is a schema for organization in terms of what’s the physical address for an organization and what’s the brand for an organization, what’s the description of an organization. So, I think you’ll be able to say show me web design companies in Hampshire and it will return a basic consistent set of data, on all of these web design companies rather than having to go into their websites the whole time. And that creates some really interesting content challenges around it. So, it’s quite an exciting area. Whether it’s something you need to be leaping on right this minute. Probably not.

Leigh Howells:
I don’t think the site is doing much to actually sell the concept.

Paul Boag:
No. It’s a very very dry tech site.

Leigh Howells:
It needs something to promote it other than that.

Paul Boag:
I think the thing it really needs to do is to tell you how the hell they’re using this data.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Because if it – and this is what I don’t know and this is where I’m at the edge of my knowledge. If Google said, if you mark up your events it will appear here in this way, then I would bother doing it.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah. Google needs to endorse it and actually…

Paul Boag:
And be specific about it. But then Google and Yahoo! and Bing are always very secretive about their algorithms and how their algorithms work, but they need to at least give you kind of an indication and they probably do and I am missing something and please don’t criticize me online for showing my ignorance here.

Marcus Lillington:
Just tell us the answers.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, tell us the answers, give us some more information, I would love to learn about this and it’s something I am going to be reading up more about. It’s really funny this, before I got this question, I’ve had a task sitting in my task list for over a year, check out schema.org and I’ve never quite got round to it. But this question, last night I was like, I was going, oh, I’ve got to pick questions for today, oh shit, this is a really good one, but I haven’t read up on it yet, so I am doing it out of ignorance.

Leigh Howells:
It doesn’t get you excited when you go to the site, does it?

Paul Boag:
No.

Leigh Howells:
You know, oh wow, really look at all this. Snore. W3 specs or something.

Paul Boag:
You compare that to marking up – now there was something I saw – yeah, you compare that to say marking up Facebook, OG or Twitter cards where there is actually a thing where you can go and say, okay, check this page and show me the results of how it would appear.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Apparently, there is something a little bit like that with Schema, but I haven’t actually tried it yet. So it’s all a bit unknown and so that – yeah, let’s talk about it in the comments and people can explain it all to me.

What lessons did you learn from your first client?

Who was your first paying web design client? How did you get the job? How did you run the project? How much has your ‘process’ changed since?

Mark Phoenix

Paul Boag:
Right, Marcus?

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. Sorry, I’ve gone off onto other things. I’ve lost the e-mail now.

Leigh Howells:
One simple thing to do.

Paul Boag:
Do you know…

Leigh Howells:
One job, and he still can’t do it.

Paul Boag:
It’s very interesting, yesterday I was being interviewed for another podcast, which is a podcast about podcasts – it was like an Inception moment – and the guy that was interviewing me said, I do get this vague sense that Marcus isn’t prepared for the show. A vague sense!

Leigh Howells:
Vague? I was going to say, ‘vague?’

Marcus Lillington:
I am really quite impressed with myself. I turned up on spec, not having a clue, for every single one of these, I think.

Paul Boag:
I sent you the questions beforehand.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t read them.
Paul Boag:
Gone.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s why it works.

Paul Boag:
Read Mark Phoenix – do you know what, I’ll read Mark Phoenix’s question, because you are the one that’s probably going to be answering this one. Who was your first paying web-design client? How did you get the job, and how did you run the project? And how much has your process changed since?

Marcus Lillington:
God, how long have we got? That’s not the voice that – that’s not that applicant question.

Leigh Howells:
No.

Paul Boag:
Our first ever client because I’ve got the signed contract pinned to my wall, it was Where From Here.

Marcus Lillington:
It was Where From Here, Chris’s mate, that’s how we won the work.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
It was– it was a friend, I’ve talked about this in the past; when you are first starting up, tap up your mates. Definitely. Absolutely, because some of them will work for companies that are requiring your –services similar to yours and you will win stuff. I certainly won work in the early days based on people I knew. I mean, I don’t anymore, but it’s not a way to run your business –

Leigh Howells:
You’ve been through them all now. You’ve been through them all on the golf course.

Paul Boag:
They all hate it now –

Marcus Lillington:

And now no one talks me.

Paul Boag:
Oh, no, Marcus wants to talk to me.

Leigh Howells:
I know what he wants.

Paul Boag:
That’s going to cost me another 20 grand.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I mean, I’ve probably made a couple of mistakes on going for projects that we shouldn’t have been doing, but because they kind of came to me, rather than the other way around. Oh, yeah, we know you do web designs kind of – that happens a lot, and I go, I don’t think we’re the right fit for you.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I do that all the time.

Marcus Lillington:
– kind of thing, but once or twice I’ve got – we’ve done work for friends, but quite often the [indiscernible] was about software development.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that’s one of your friends.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, a guy that worked there was a friend of mine. He was Finance Director. They were a big company, it was a good fit. So Where From Here – I can’t remember what the project was though.

Paul Boag:
We did – wasn’t it – so Where From Here did like GPS…

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Very, very early days of GPS.

Leigh Howells:
They still going?

Paul Boag:
No, they have got bought out by somebody else, I think, and we were working on something.

Marcus Lillington:
Was it some sort of interface?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, it was an interface on a SQL server database, I remember that because I had to learn SQL server, I had never used SQL server before, and it was a user interface, I think for a CD-ROM thing, I don’t think it was web-based. No, it must have been if it was SQL server.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
So it was a web-based – oh, walking guide, that was it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, it was.

Paul Boag:
Yes, it was like trails of walking, so there was lots of maps and stuff like that. It was quite a good project actually. I got, you know, they were a really nice client, and it was a nice way to be broken in and we didn’t suffer from any of that working for friends problems that often happen. I think probably because I led – you know, I was probably key on the project rather than Chris and I didn’t know them, so it was more of a kind of professional relationship.

Leigh Howells:
Marcus had just kind of introduced you, and you took it from there.

Paul Boag:
No, Chris’s friend.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, Chris’s friend?

Marcus Lillington:
Chris was just the introducer.

Paul Boag:
In terms of how our process or the process, how did we run the project… Badly! I don’t remember us running it at all really, it just kind of happened.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, Chris would have project managed it, wouldn’t he?

Paul Boag:
Did he?

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t know. It was so long ago.

Paul Boag:
I know.

Marcus Lillington:
I am going back to the introduction on this, I didn’t have any gray hair then. None at all! It was January 2002.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
So 11 plus years ago.

Paul Boag:
Yes, so Chris did project manage it, that’s true. I’m being flippant. Yeah, I mean he did – it was a very simple project, we had to produce a series of templates.

Marcus Lillington:
He probably would have done, and I’m guessing here –

Paul Moag
We did multiple designs.

Marcus Lillington:
Multiple designs, which one do you like the best, we’ll have the top of that one and the bottom bit of the other one.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, there was a lot of that going on, which we don’t do any more.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, so that’s probably –

Leigh Howells:
A ‘what do you think of these?’ kind of thing?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I think we might… yeah, ‘do you like this?’

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, I like that bit, I like that bit and I like that bit. Frankenstein.

Paul Boag:
I do – I think we did some speculative design for them as well.

Marcus Lillington:
Quite possibly.

Paul Boag:
Because we definitely did speculative design in the beginning.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, for pretty much everything, yeah.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, because I remember the – I remember arguing with you and Chris about we mustn’t do speculative design anymore and you going ‘Well, clients expect it.’ So, yes.

Marcus Lillington:
I never argue about anything, ever.

Leigh Howells:
But in the very early days, I mean, sales guys were kind of using that speculative design as a kind of way to get through the door, weren’t they?

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Still do!

Paul Boag:
Yeah, some still do.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, true.

Marcus Lillington:
We have lost work recently because we didn’t do any spec design.

Paul Boag:
Really?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I can’t remember who it was for but, yeah, we definitely have.

Paul Boag:
Wow! That’s amazing.

Marcus Lillington:
And, you know…

Paul Boag:
Fair enough.

Marcus Lillington:
Fair enough.

Paul Boag:
We don’t want to work with the client then…

Marcus Lillington:
I think in the past, we – it’s strengthened our case that we didn’t do it, so you know…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, swings and roundabouts, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
If you explain this is why we don’t do it, they go, oh, they are very professional, aren’t they? But also if they listen to the podcast, they go, well, they’re not very professional!

Paul Boag:
That was another question I got asked. Does it – do you think that it’s –

Marcus Lillington:
– detrimental to your business? To some people, yes.

Paul Boag:
But actually, that led to an interesting answer from me which – because I am an interesting person, which actually relates to what we’re talking about here which is the idea that if people listen to the podcast and our joking and our messing around and all the rest of it, if they don’t like that, then do we really want to work with them anyway because they’re not going to be the right fit for us.

Marcus Lillington:
Probably not.

Leigh Howells:
No.

Paul Boag:
I know we’re more professional face-to-face on a project than we are on the show but even so you want somebody that’s got that kind of spark to them.

Marcus Lillington:
We were – we were just…

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
We lost a project earlier this year for a client that we have worked for in the past. And we haven’t, how can I put this?

Leigh Howells:
Carefully!

Marcus Lillington:
We haven’t enjoyed – we haven’t enjoyed the project very much.

Leigh Howells:
No.

Marcus Lillington:
But we lost this particular one and we were described as ‘blokey and jokey’.

Leigh Howells:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
And it’s like, well, really, this is from a pitch, not from this show. And it’s like – basically, I am agreeing with you, Paul. We are not a good fit for them.

Leigh Howells:
No. And it wasn’t even you two, was it?

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
No, that was the irony!

Leigh Howells:
No, it was less blokey, jokey people.

Marcus Lillington:
But they obviously listen the podcast as well.

Paul Boag:
They probably do. But going back to this – the question, I think the truth is, is if you have explained speculative design to a client and they have still rejected you on the basis that you don’t do speculative design, my conclusion is I don’t want to work for them. Because they’ve immediately rejected our process, our way of thinking, everything about the way we work and so you know it’s going to be a nightmare project for the rest of it.

This was the kind of thing that I say when I do my marketing workshop, because a lot of people are afraid of expressing too strong an opinion, of alienating people with their kind of point of view or opinion, and I say, well, here’s the big secret about the Internet. There are a lot of people on it. There are no shortage of clients out there. Yes, you can afford – you may alienate one group, but you are going to attract another, and that’s okay. That’s – it’s about finding the right fit.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly. When we made the decision, when we did the – redesigned the website, whenever that was, 18 months ago or something like that, to kind of just try and reflect our personality, it’s what we’ve been saying – talking about how your process has changed, we’ve been trying to make sure that the work, the websites that we build, reflect the personality and the character of our clients as well as doing all the kind of working for user requirements and business objectives and all that kind of thing. But it’s about promoting character. So we decided we ought to do the same.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
And I think it’s a concern sometimes. You think oh, is it bit too, are we not appealing to the right people, but again, I am agreeing with you, as long as you’re brave and you stay brave, you’re going to end up with clients that work well and they’re going to be the profitable ones, the ones that come back et cetera, et cetera, rather than difficult clients that aren’t sure about you because you are a bit jokey. Oh, well, I’m going to have to sit on these guys just to make sure they do the job properly and it’s like, come on, you know, we have been doing this for 11 years. We do know what we’re talking about.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, absolutely. And I’ve got to say, I mean, that’s the other thing why – because another question I’ve got asked on this podcast which is, we’re now way off Mark’s question, we’ll come back to it in a minute. Another thing I got asked in this interview was whether – what benefits the podcast has and of course one of the benefits is it attracts people, we win work through it, but the other thing is it educates potential clients as well. So the clients that do end up coming to us are more knowledgeable become they’ve listened to podcasts, because they’ve read the blog posts, so again we’re kind of molding better clients there in a regard, but going back to Mark’s question, how the process has changed, I think the kind of key thing that’s changed over the time is that we’ve gone from a – here is a set of options, let’s find that one that you like the best to here is a process we move through that eventually concludes with the design that you’ll like.

Marcus Lillington:
You own as well. You feel like it’s your design as much as it’s ours. I mean, the difference – the main difference is research and fact finding.

Leigh Howells:
It’s about fully understanding their problems now, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
We used to kick off pretty much any project with a kick off meeting, where we’d talk about look and feel mostly. And this is going back a long, long way. And then we kind of moved into developing information architecture, and if you are going to do that, you have to ask questions about – we have to work out what the priorities are, so that you can ask questions, and we kind of moved along that – honing what’s the best way, what’s the most efficient way of finding out all of the pieces of information that are going to help you prioritize content.

Paul Boag:
And bringing the client with you as well and educating them and enthusing them and exciting them about the website that they come out the other end with. I mean, I must have mentioned this before on the podcast but the best question I’ve ever been asked in a pitch was with RPF when they said, what you are going to do to make this project fun for us. I do think that’s a big part of it because…

Marcus Lillington:
We want to enjoy it.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. If you do enjoy it, if the client enjoys the project, they are going to come back to you time and time again but more important than that, they’re going to like their website. The worst thing you want is for a client to get to the end of the process and not really be that excited about the website that they’ve got. So we’ve learnt loads and it’s been a really cool journey. I’ll be fascinated to see how we’re doing it in another 11 years, or if we are, I might given up the ghost by then.

Marcus Lillington:
11 years?

Leigh Howells:
What, life generally?

Paul Boag:
I said this morning when I was coming down the stairs, I am ready to retire. Is that okay with everyone? You know, some days, you go…

Leigh Howells:
Just not financially ready to retire, just mentally.

Paul Boag:
Well, no, I said, is everybody okay if I continue to take my full salary while I do?

Leigh Howells:
Okay, that’s a good retirement deal.

Paul Boag:
There’s got to be some perks to running your own business. Right, that’s Mark done. Hopefully that helped Mark. A bit of a rambling answer, but then what do you expect from us?

Is there still a place for RSS?

Is there still a place for RSS?

DJ Forth

Marcus Lillington:
Would you like me to start this Paul?

Paul Boag:
Yes, Marcus, because you do it so professionally.

Marcus Lillington:
Another person with a cool name, DJ Fourth.

Paul Boag:
That’s a Twitter handle.

Marcus Lillington:
DJ Fourth, is there still a place for RSS?

Paul Boag:
Leigh, you just said, I’ve asked myself this question.

Leigh Howells:
I have asked myself that question.

Paul Boag:
What was your conclusion?

Leigh Howells:
I’m not really sure, I’ll put it in anyway. Why not, some people are probably still using it.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. I mean, this is come out of the fact that they’ve just closed Google Reader hasn’t it? Or they’re in the process of closing, but I still think there is a massive place for RSS. I think it’s really – it’s a really useful way of passing data from one website to another in a structured format. Even if you don’t use it, okay, I think there is considerably less people who sit down and read RSS feeds like we used to.

Marcus Lillington:
Fewer people.

Paul Boag:
Considerably less.

Marcus Lillington:
Fewer.

Paul Boag:
What’s this podcast called? Boagworld. In my world, we speak funny.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s bad grammar world.

Leigh Howells:
See, what I am confused – apart from Marcus’ stickler for grammatical – I can’t speak now.

Paul Boag:
We’ve made him feel self-conscious. Oh no!

Leigh Howells:
Thing like Feedly, I don’t – because it is so kind of – it’s not transparent any more, is that a – is that an RSS feed, what is it?

Paul Boag:
It is RSS feed.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, so obviously then if it’s RSS feed – I mean, first of all, I don’t realize they are RSS feeds, is that good or bad?

Paul Boag:
That is good.

Leigh Howells:
Or it’s bad because you don’t realize that RSS is still useful.

Paul Boag:
Yes, okay, it’s fine from a development point of view.

Leigh Howells:
I get these beautifully formatted feeds through…

Paul Boag:
I think what we’ve seen is a maturing – the trouble is, is people got, in their heads, very linked RSS with an RSS reader.

Leigh Howells:
Which has a big RSS logo somewhere in it and it looks to me kind of shitty and…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, but it’s like saying – it’d be a bit like saying, well, now we no longer use IE6, do we need HTML anymore? Well yeah of course we do, we’re still using HTML all the time, mobile devices use HTML, and it’s the same with RSS, you think about things like If That, Then This, you know, is built on RSS. Twitter clients, a lot of Twitter clients would use RSS feeds in them, you’ve got things like Feedly and Flipboard and all of these things that are built on RSS, and even with a website, RSS, if I want to – for example, if I wanted to display the new stories from Boagworld on the Headscape website, what’s the easiest way of doing that? RSS.

Marcus Lillington:
So yes, it’s still needed.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely, RSS rocks.

Leigh Howells:
But it’s interesting, it has become so slick now.

Paul Boag:
It has become a technology rather than an interface, if that makes sense.

Leigh Howells:
I’m worried that I didn’t even realize it was still being used in Flipboard and Feedly.

Paul Boag:
How else did you think they would do it?

Leigh Howells:
I don’t know, but once you’ve set it up, you do it fairly quickly.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Leigh Howells:
There’s even like lots of kind of predefined things, you might just click on that, that, that. So there is no entering kind of URLs with RSS on the ends, this kind of stuff. So you’ve just become divorced from the technology.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Leigh Howells:
And then you don’t think about the technology.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely true.

Leigh Howells:
But yeah, it’s critical behind these nice slick applications.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Leigh Howells:
So yes?

Marcus Lillington:
So yes is the simple answer.

Paul Boag:
Yes, that could have been longer, couldn’t it really? But I am sure we waffled enough with the other questions.

Marcus Lillington:
Sorry, this is really important.

Paul Boag:
Is it really?

Marcus Lillington:
No. Leigh, have you seen the DM–1 app? The drum machine?

Paul Boag:
Oh, this drum machine, oh, he goes on and on about it.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s fantastic.

Leigh Howells:
Is it?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, it’s – I can’t show you properly, but it’s like the old TR808 style.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, I have got it on the iPad. Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, it’s a fabulous thing.

Paul Boag:
Why are we doing this on the podcast?

Marcus Lillington:
Because other people will love it. I wonder if that will go… And you can just change all these different…

Leigh Howells:
Is it an 808?

Marcus Lillington:
That’s an 808, but you’ve got 909 and 606, Farfisa, acoustic kit, all of them. It’s everything. It’s fantastic, wonderful, but I have to turn it off otherwise I just get lost in it.

Paul Boag:
So why turn it on now, why include it on the show?

Marcus Lillington:
Because it’s interesting, it’s a lovely piece of design, Paul.

Leigh Howells:
It is beautiful.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s very pretty.

Paul Boag:
We did apps two seasons ago now.

Marcus Lillington:
Was it two?

Paul Boag:
Yes, it was, because the last season was on posts and cool posts, wasn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, yes, the apps was good.

Leigh Howells:
I miss apps. Can we have questions about apps?

Paul Boag:
That’s actually a good point, mind, we do need more questions. I’m doing alright actually. I’m trying to work through systematically as I can, as many questions, there have been one or two that have been so obscure that I don’t think they’re worth discussing on the show, but most of your questions have been brilliant, guys, keep them coming in. But yes, you can ask questions about apps, if you wish.

Leigh Howells:
Yes. What’s the prettiest app? That’d be a good question. What’s your favorite pretty app?

Paul Boag:
Are you adding – I’m refusing to answer this, you’ll have to submit it through official… you have to use the #helpbw on twitter or email me at [email protected], you can’t just ask me on the air.

Leigh Howells:
Oh, that was very slick, Paul, what you did there. That was very good.

Paul Boag:
I know, that’s called a segue. See, now I’ve been out to Tree House in Orlando, I know how to do all this presenter stuff officially, now like they have proper cameras and a real set, nice lights.

Leigh Howells:
Cameramen?

Paul Boag:
Cameramen, yes, there were cameramen, it was like being on a proper TV show. I so want to go and do that for a living.

Marcus Lillington:
Let’s just do that. Call it – I don’t know, Bee House.

Leigh Howells:
The barn, granary…

Paul Boag:
Well, he’s going to be moving out of the barn so that ruins it. We’ll have to get somewhere with real character that works for this.

Marcus Lillington:
I know exactly where we’re going to go.

Paul Boag:
Oh, do you?

Marcus Lillington:
But I don’t know what it is.

Paul Boag:
You just know what it looks like.

Marcus Lillington:
Just in my head… Chris made me described it, it was great.

Paul Boag:
Go on then. No, why are we doing this on the show?

Leigh Howells:
You imagined this place as well though, didn’t you?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that worked out.

Leigh Howells:
Yeah, yeah, kind of what I imagined as well.

Paul Boag:
Pretty pathetic. Or pathetic.

Marcus Lillington:
Pathetic or pathetic, yes. I’ve got some pathetic jokes.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, go on then.

Marcus Lillington:
Professional! I thought I’d go for some really naff ones.

Leigh Howells:
Really.

Paul Boag:
What, more naff than normal?

Marcus Lillington:
Here we go, what do you call an alligator in a vest? Don’t know, Marcus? An investigator.

Paul Boag:
That’s quite good, I like that. I’ll tell my son that.

Marcus Lillington:
These are good ones for small boys. What do you call a computer that sings?

Leigh Howells:
I don’t know, what do you call a computer that sings?

Marcus Lillington:
Adele.

Paul Boag:
That’s not as good.

Leigh Howells:
That’s quite good.

Marcus Lillington:
I have more, I’ll keep going. What do you call a three footed aardvark?

Leigh Howells:
I don’t know.

Marcus Lillington:
A yard-vark.

Paul Boag:.
That’s terrible.

Marcus Lillington:
I kicked his ass pretty good.

Paul Boag:
I will allow you one more.

Leigh Howells:
An imperial joke.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, an imperial joke. What’s the best day to go to the beach?

Paul Boag:
Sunday. I win.

Marcus Lillington:
Paul wins. I’ll stop.

Paul Boag:
They were very cracker like jokes.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, cracker jokes, that’s what I searched on.

Paul Boag:
So send Marcus some decent jokes, please. We still haven’t got any audio questions. It doesn’t matter how much I beg people for an audio question, they won’t send them to me. I’ll probably get irritated when they do, because we’ll have to work out how to play them in the show.

Marcus Lillington:
We can do that. We are set up to do it now.

Paul Boag:
So there we go, lots of questions, lots of good stuff coming up in the season. There is some really good questions coming up in future episodes. So, tune in, sign up, see, RSS feeds, iTunes, RSS again. Yeah, well, how do you think you get your iTunes? It’s an RSS feed.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, dear, haven’t thought about it. It’s too slick. We’ve already answered that question and it was yes, okay?

Paul Boag:
Okay, so on that bombshell, let’s finish this week’s show, we will see you again next week. Thanks for listening.

Marcus Lillington:
Bye.

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