Sprites, UX advice and long term clients

This week on the Boagworld show, awful accents asking about sprites, the thing all non ux people should know and working with long term clients.

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Paul Boag:
This week on the Boagworld show awful accents asking about Sprites, the thing all non-UX people should know, and working with long-term clients.

Paul Boag:
It’s sunny.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
It’s sunny, Marcus. It’s spring time. I’m so excited.

Marcus Lillington:
It is but how long it’s going to last for, Paul?

Paul Boag:
Oh, you are Mr. Miserable, aren’t you?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Just embrace the moment, live in the now, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. I’m going to Washington on the weekend.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
And it is supposed to be the best month – April that is – because I don’t know when this is going out.

Paul Boag:
Next week.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. Yeah, so I’m going to Washington in April and it is supposed to be lovely.

Paul Boag:
Lovely.

Marcus Lillington:
So I’m looking forward to that.

Paul Boag:
Yes, but I don’t care that you’re going because it’s going to be lovely here too.

Marcus Lillington:
Is it really?

Paul Boag:
Although probably not as nice as…

Marcus Lillington:
I’m going to have to have a check now.

Paul Boag:
No, it won’t be as nice as in Washington. Washington looks very nice this year. But I want to see Olympus Has Fallen last night and I wouldn’t go to Washington, looks a very dangerous place according to that film.

Marcus Lillington:
Olympus Has Fallen. What’s that?

Paul Boag:
Oh it’s so funny; the funniest film I’ve watched for ages. Imagine Die Hard, but set in the White House, right? So the White House gets taken over by terrorists.

Marcus Lillington:
The White House is Olympus?

Paul Boag:
Yes, that’s his code name. And basically terrorists do lots of bad things in the White House, but it makes no sense as a movie. It’s got more holes in than Swiss cheese or indeed all of the people that were running around in the street getting bullet holes blown in them. It was just brilliant, it’s carnage from beginning to end and it is ridiculous.

Marcus Lillington:
Sounds rubbish to me, Paul.

Paul Boag:
So, Washington DC is the most dangerous place on the face of the planet because I mean Independence Day it gets blown up in that, Olympus Has Fallen gets blown up in that. It seems to be the place to destroy in movies.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. Well that’s – it’s kind of the hub of power, isn’t it?

Paul Boag:
They like to think. Really we still rule the world…

Marcus Lillington:
Of course, we do.

Paul Boag:
It’s just people don’t know – we don’t like to boast about it.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly, not showing off.

Paul Boag:
Exactly, very British of us. So, no that was a bit of a laugh, going to see that, I enjoyed that very much. So, yes, how has your week been?

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t know. What have I been doing this week?

Paul Boag:
You have been working hard. We’re really busy at the moment, aren’t we? Lots of weddings and things going on.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, yes, very, very busy and obviously prepping to go to States next week and then prepping you for meetings next week.

Paul Boag:
That you won’t be at.

Marcus Lillington:
That I can’t be at.

Paul Boag:
That’s funny.

Marcus Lillington:
So yeah, but no one cares about that.

Paul Boag:
They do and it’s webby stuff, isn’t it. So that’s actually related …

Marcus Lillington:
So how are we going to record a podcast next week, Paul?

Paul Boag:
Oh, that’s a really good point. Oh crap, I hadn’t thought of that. Are you not around at all next week?

Marcus Lillington:
Friday. But you are doing that meeting.

Paul Boag:
Oh for Pete’s sake.

Marcus Lillington:
I could do it is Thursday afternoon over the phone.

Paul Boag:
Oh well. You may not have a show next week. I know we haven’t worked that out. Okay, we will work out something. It will all be fine, it will all be great and we will be happy and jolly and it will be great. No, so, yes lots of consultancy work, isn’t it? It’s the in thing these days amongst the website owners crew.

Marcus Lillington:
Those in the know.

Paul Boag:
Those in the know, yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Sorry, I’m looking for today’s notes now.

Paul Boag:
We’ve been doing ….

Marcus Lillington:
Do I need to know them? No, I don’t.

Paul Boag:
We never look at today’s notes. This is how prepared he is for his client meetings as well. It’s so embarrassing. Yeah, so we’re doing loads of consultancy work which is really great, I’m really enjoying doing that. There is nothing more rewarding than sitting down and slagging someone else’s site off. So that’s what I’m writing at the moment which is good.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, you’re doing a review. I’m doing a review at the moment, it’s not my favorite thing. I like standing up in front of a crowd of people and getting them to say what they don’t like about their site. That’s much more fun.

Paul Boag:
Well you’re – we have this, in Headscape we have like this quadrant thing going. This might actually be interesting to people actually. I will put this in the show notes, right.

 The 4 segments of running a successful website
The 4 segments of running a successful website.

So we have this quadrant where we divide up everything that’s involved in creating a successful website into four quadrants. We have an implementation quadrant which is classic design and development stuff, right, which obviously we do and have always done. Then there is the strategy quadrant which is the planning stuff and that’s my quadrant, isn’t it. That is where I spend most of my time kind of strategizing. Wow, I sound so clever. Then there is Chris’ quadrant which is the monitoring and iteration quadrant which is having ongoing programs of kind of incrementally improving a website. So lots of analytic split testing, user testing, all that kind of a good stuff. And your quadrant is the government’s quadrant which is the peopley bit and organizational all side of things.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. I mean I tend to do, I mean, to be fair I think we kind of split that between us.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, we kind of, yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Because I do kind of the peopley bit of the strategy stuff…

Paul Boag:
Yes. That’s true.

Marcus Lillington:
But I tend not to do …

Paul Boag:
Basically we try and avoid me having to talk to people because I just annoy them.

Marcus Lillington:
But yeah – so, yes it’s interesting. It seems to – we seem to have recently formed a way forward which is working rather than – obviously when we started off decades ago, well it is a bit more than a decade ago.

Paul Boag:
It is.

Marcus Lillington:
And you just kind of fire your way at kind of just doing web design and then you’d kind of discover UX and IA and all this kind of stuff and you would pull that in but for the last couple of years couple of years it has been a bit kind of like we were missing something. And now it seems that people want us to, yeah, work out what they should be doing with their websites. Not rather than building them, but as well as.

Paul Boag:
As well as, yeah. So it’s good. It’s all fun stuff. So I will put the quadrant diagram in the show notes, because it does quite illustrate the way things are going, I think. Suddenly there is this realization that a successful website is a lot more than HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It is also about how that website is run and the business processes behind it. You do feel like more like a business consultant than a web consultant sometimes.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. I mean that’s true. Obviously the idea with that kind of consultancy related work that we have done, we have been doing for the last 5,6 years, say, has been very focused on content and making sure the content is in the right order.

Paul Boag:
Yes,

Marcus Lillington:
And it’s – the right messages are being made on the site, but then we go yeah, but make sure you look after it. Bye.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. Bye.

Marcus Lillington:
And yeah – and obviously some guidance is required on the looking after it bit as well, and that’s what we have moved into quite a lot lately which is good.

Paul Boag:
Anyway that was all very sensible for an introduction. That’s not normal rambling…

Marcus Lillington:
It’s because you said what have you been doing this week. Oh I know, I know.

Paul Boag:
What have you been doing?

Marcus Lillington:
On Saturday the Show Dogs, my old band, not the really, really – not the 80s band, but the band I was in the 90s, got back together for the first time …

Paul Boag:
How exciting.

Marcus Lillington:
… in 12 years. We went away on the – on a tour holiday of Cornwall and did some acoustic kind of…

Paul Boag:
Yes, I remember.

Marcus Lillington:
But the first proper plugged in microphones, PA. And it was a triumph.

Paul Boag:
A triumph, he says modestly.

Marcus Lillington:
It so was.

Paul Boag:
Did you – had you done lots of practice before it, your comeback?

Marcus Lillington:
We had three or four sessions, yeah.

Paul Boag:
So you did actually practice.

Marcus Lillington:
We had to. When you’re doing 25, 26 songs, you have to kind of practice them up a bit.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
But yeah, all the old boys, three of them are over 60 now.

Paul Boag:
Bloody hell.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m the baby of the band…

Paul Boag:
God that’s scary.

Marcus Lillington:
… By about I think seven years.

Paul Boag:
I’m really, really noticing it now that we of the three founders of Headscape are ageing quite badly. Every time I see you, you’re looking over your glasses at me. And then – and Chris now has turned into an old man with his artificial hip and every time I stand up or sit down I seem to have to sigh now, which is…

Marcus Lillington:
Go ohhhh.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, it’s terrible. So there we go.

Marcus Lillington:
But have you noticed that you can’t turn round when you’re reversing a car. That’s one. Well I just can’t be bothered. That’s what the mirrors are for. Oh, no. I’ve just run someone over. It’s just because I can’t actually turn round.

Paul Boag:
Are we really going to be turning up to meetings in our Zimmer frames and talking about technology and web stuff? This goes back to the conversation about can you be too old to be a web designer. Look at the way you’re sitting there now, you’re just kind of doing stretches to try to get your body moving.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
A sad state of affairs.

Marcus Lillington:
What we need to do is move to California.

Paul Boag:
Where it’s nice and warm.

Marcus Lillington:
Where it’s really hot most of the time..

Paul Boag:
Good for our joints.

Marcus Lillington:
And then you don’t feel it. Then you – it’s this cold damp weather. It’s no good for your joints at all.

Paul Boag:
Oh dear. So on that piece of health advice, let’s move on to our first story.

How do CSS sprites work?

Paul Boag:
So I made a promise on a previous show. I promised if you send in an audio question, I will include it on the show.

Marcus Lillington:
You did. I’m not sure whether I should admit to of having heard this or not. Oh, I just did.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
I couldn’t stop laughing. Be prepared peeps.

Paul Boag:
This is – it’s like if I had any choice …

Marcus Lillington:
Its genius is what it is.

Paul Boag:
Its not, it’s terrible. It’s from Robert Williams and he sent in a legitimate question, but as you will soon hear I am very reluctant to refuse to answer it. Here is his question.

Robert Williams
Hello guys, my name is Robert. I’m from the U.S. but I’ll go ahead and switch to my English accent now. Good day, I just want to ask you about Sprites if I could. I love your podcast and I am just curious about how best to use sprites are on my website, is it similar to a mapped image, how do I make them, is it like a scrolling thing. I’ve done a little bit of research but I can’t understand how to make…

Paul Boag:
He has gone Australian.

Robert Williams
… or use them. If you guys could give me a little more detailed information that would be awesome. You guys rock and keep it going. Cheerio.

Paul Boag:
Cheerio.

Marcus Lillington:
Cheerio.

Paul Boag:
Cheerio. Rocking and…

Marcus Lillington:
Yes we’re awesome and we are rocking.

Paul Boag:
Yeah that wasn’t very English. I mean that’s just a travesty. I feel like someone has spat on my nation. That’s what it feels like.

Marcus Lillington:
I think it’s a damn good try and we want more, people doing accents that aren’t their own, okay. That’s what we could become famous for. You have to do your question in a silly accent.

Paul Boag:
Oh, that is such a bad idea.

Marcus Lillington:
No, it isn’t. It’s a great idea because, let’s face it, Sprites are boring.

Paul Boag:
The other thing that really amused me about Robert’s question is he said he tried to look it up online, but he is still not entirely sure about it. So I did a Google on CSS Sprites. And the very first result that comes up is one by Chris Coyier that I cannot believe that this could be explained any better than the way Chris Coyier does, link in the show notes. He makes it’s so clear …

Marcus Lillington:
So not only are you saying that – what was his name?

Paul Boag:
Robert.

Marcus Lillington:
Robert has got the worst English accent you’ve ever heard, he’s also incapable of using Google or reading.

Paul Boag:
Either he is incapable of using Google or Chris Coyier’s article was too complex for him, in which case you probably shouldn’t be doing a web design, Robert.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I do like the title here, CSS Sprites, what they’re, why they’re cool and how to use them?

Paul Boag:
Yes. And actually he says on the thing, he says in his question, I’ve heard of them, but I don’t really understand them. Very first title: you’ve heard of them, but I don’t understand them and then it goes on to tell you exactly what they. So Robert with all due respect, in other words with no respect whatsoever, I will send you the link in Google. Now it’s really good – Sprites are great thing. It’s a quite useful thing for everybody to know about, whether you’re a web designer or web site owner, because they are useful little tool …

Marcus Lillington:
I have to confess I have no idea..

Paul Boag:
Have you not got any idea?

Marcus Lillington:
I thought they were strange sort of little fairy creatures that were in the Lord of the Rings or something like that.

Paul Boag:
Yes, they’re those as well, but basically right.

Marcus Lillington:
Tell me what they are, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Let me explain the problem, right. When you are loading a website, performance is the issue, okay. You want things to download damn quick, don’t you? So, believe it or not downloading the HTML page is probably the quickest part of downloading a page. It’s the constant calling back to the server to get, oh I now need this image or this piece of JavaScript or this or that or the other. So if your page has got a lot of images in, for example multiple button states, an up state, a hover state, a down state et cetera. All of those things take quite a long time to be pulled back because each time your computer needs to go back to the server and say oh, and now I need the on state of this button. And what you can end up with is A, the page taking a lot longer to load, but also if you say take multiples states of a button, you can roll over a button and it only then calls to the server to load that frame. So you have this flash for a moment of oh it’s just suddenly got the image.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, yeah.

Paul Boag:
So, Sprites are the solution to this. So what Sprites are is you take all of the different images on your website and basically combine them together into one big graphic, right? So instead of downloading 10 little graphics, you’re downloading one bigger graphic with each of these individual Sprites on. Alright? So, for example with a button you download one graphic that would show the normal background state of the button, the hover state, the click state, et cetera, all in one graphic. Then what you do …

Marcus Lillington:
Sorry, how does that work then because it’s bigger than it should be?

Paul Boag:
Exactly. So normally you would basically use background images as a way of displaying these kinds of graphics, all right. So button states it’s a background image that you’re pulling in and that’s normally the way they work. So all you do is you apply say the background state of your button by default and it will crop that down obviously to be just the available area. So you will only see the default state of the button, because the rest of it won’t be visible, it will be out of the visible area. And then what you do is on the hover state you change the position of the background, so it shifts to now reveal the hover state. That make sense?

Marcus Lillington:
Yep.

Paul Boag:
So essentially you can use that technique to create loads and loads of these kinds of different Sprites that basically pull in everything you need. Now creating all of this you might go oh this sounds like quite a lot of work. Well, it is work, it does take time to do all of this. But you can make life a little bit easier. For example, there is a website called spriteme.org which can basically find all the images that you are using on an HTML page, combine them all together into a single image and then give you the code for making – using them as Sprites. So check that out because that will save you a lot of time doing that. But Sprites are definitely a way to go and they are more and more important especially now that we’re looking at mobile devices which don’t have quite as good speed to them, they tend to be a bit slower than… So that way Sprites become ever more important. The only thing you can’t do with Sprites is repeating background images. So like a tiled background, it won’t do that particularly well. But other than that you can do most things with Sprites and you should be using them wherever possible. Check out Chris Coyier’s article on this, link in the show notes, but it is css.tricks.com/css-sprites.

So that’s CSS Sprites. Are you feeling educated, Marcus?

Marcus Lillington:
I am actually – I have actually learned something from the show today …

Paul Boag:
There you go.

Marcus Lillington:
… which is quite staggering really.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely. I mean actually CSS Sprites are being used less than they used to be because increasingly the kind of effects that you would use CSS Sprites for you can either do now straight in CSS in terms of gradients and that kind of stuff and button effects and that kind of thing.

Marcus Lillington:
So less images are required.

Paul Boag:
Less images full stop and also with icons which is where they used to be a lot. Now we’re using fonts for icons …

Marcus Lillington:
Sure.

Paul Boag:
… so which is even faster and better than using imagery. So, CSS Sprites are slowly going away. But there you go. I suppose that should have all been in the last section rather than this one.

Marcus Lillington:
But you know keeps people …

Paul Boag:
Keep people on their toes.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly. Shall l read the next question?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, what’s our next question?

How should you work with ongoing clients?

Marcus Lillington:
This is from Andy Owen and Andy says how do you work with ongoing clients to identify improvements and new features for their sites and to plan a schedule of work?

Paul Boag:
So really this is the kind of question that you should be answering because you’re the one that’s an account manager.

Marcus Lillington:
I think you said earlier that it was Chris Scott who did the kind of measuring and working it out what was going to come in…

Paul Boag:
Iterative work. And what’s the chance of getting him on the podcast?

Marcus Lillington:
Very slim, indeed.

Paul Boag:
Very slim. I think he has been on once against his will.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. He hated it. It might even have been more than once in the early days when he didn’t know any better.

Paul Boag:
Really? Wow.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. How do you work with ongoing clients to identify improvements…

Paul Boag:
Well, I’ll tell you the first thing that sprung to my mind when I read this, is what inevitably happens when you’re working on your initial project with the client is they come up with ideas as the project goes along because no matter how many – how much planning they do up front, until they are actually involved in an active project, I don’t think they think of everything that they…

Marcus Lillington:
Two little words that are the project manager’s dream words really.

Paul Boag:
Scope creep.

Marcus Lillington:
No, dream words.

Paul Boag:
Oh, right.

Marcus Lillington:
Phase 2.

Paul Boag:
Phase 2, yes. So, I mean that’s what essentially we do a lot of, don’t we? Is as clients come up with these ideas we keep a kind of unvetted list of ideas. We don’t say oh, no that’s a silly idea or that’s a great idea, we just put it all down on a list …

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely.

Paul Boag:
… and then review it for Phase 2.

Marcus Lillington:
And also I mean with the best will in the world, if you’re putting together a contract for a piece of work that’s quite technical, you’re still going to come across areas when you are thrashing it out when you begin the project where what they thought they were getting, they’re not.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
So, I mean sometimes you will reach an agreement and go alright fair enough. It’s not that much more work or whatever, but if it’s a major piece of work you will say basically Phase 2 gives you the option to say we’ll get onto this and it doesn’t cause a huge kind of mmuuah feeling. So it’s useful.

Paul Boag:
The other thing I like about Phase 2 and talking in terms of kind of wish list of other stuff to add later is it gets the client beginning to think in these terms of you don’t just build a website and you are done, this is not a print brochure. You don’t send it to print and then sit back for three years before you do the next version. This is an iterative ongoing phrase. So that kind of helps.

Marcus Lillington:
Still I answer the question?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, go on then. Do you think you’ve a definitive answer have you?

Marcus Lillington:
I kind of have – this is how we work with a few of our clients but how we should work with all of our clients.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
But obviously there is an issue here with ongoing budget because okay even though we try and encourage our clients and anyone who wants to talk to us really that they should be investing in their sites ongoing, they don’t always get the budget to do that. But let’s assuming there is some budget there. What we do now – and this is going back to whatever series, when did we talk about things like business objectives and stuff like that …

Paul Boag:
We have talked about it many, many times. I’ll put a link in the show notes to a relevant piece of information.

Marcus Lillington:
We covered it a long time ago, anyway, but one of the very first things we discuss when we sit down with a new client or ongoing or a new project I suppose, is talk about business objective. What are the things that the site needs to deliver to the organization? And we prioritize those as well.

Paul Boag:
We do.

Marcus Lillington:
There is a lot of effort goes into this because it tells an awful lot. And one of the things it tells us is, it gives us – those business objectives are obviously really important to the site, so how we’re going to measure them?

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
So we have to work out, so …

Paul Boag:
Key performance indicators.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly, and they’re normally associated with particular calls to action on the site. So, if – I can’t – this is typical, mind blank of an actual example.

Paul Boag:
Well, donations on the charity site.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, sure. Okay and they’re easily – if somebody clicks on a donate button then it’s easily measured.

Paul Boag:
Or enquiries through a contact us form …

Marcus Lillington:
Thank you, Paul. Yes

Paul Boag:
… or an ecommerce transaction. Do you want me to keep going because I can do.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I’ve got enough now.

Paul Boag:
Okay, that’s good.

Marcus Lillington:
These kind of things are eminently measurable and they are KPIs or success criteria.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
These are the things that you should be improving or aiming to improve in an ongoing fashion, not oh, it’s looking a bit dated.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
We could touch up – I’ve never liked that blue and so let’s make it green. That’s not what you should be doing. What you should be doing is these are our 10 KPI’s. This one isn’t – we are not improving this one as much as we said we might be able to so let’s concentrate this month on doing something to the site and design technique – technical, whatever development, to try and improve that particular KPI.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely. I couldn’t agree with that more.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. And as a mentioned, I think that’s something that you should be doing monthly, little bits.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Meet up or conference call.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Conference call would do on a monthly basis which is between the internal web team, the clients web team or web person and our web team who looked after that particular project and everybody basically go in and discuss things, this is what we measured last month, this is how it’s improved or not improved, what we’re going to do, everybody gets their actions, they go away and do it and then you meet again in a month’s time to move that on.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
We also like to offer a kind of annual review as well.

Paul Boag:
Yes, we try and kind of touch base with most clients, yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Big picture stuff, I guess. I mean that – that’s when you probably would cover the design hasn’t changed radically in three years, maybe even if you’re looking at brand. Say you might want – so we should be looking at your competitors, seeing where they are at. You probably wouldn’t think let’s do a competitor review on a month-to-month basis. That’s the kind of thing you’d look at annually. So, that’s it, Paul. I have answered the question.

Paul Boag:
You answered it very well. And in terms of how you measure those different criteria. I mean obviously google analytics is great for that but also you might want to check out rocket surgery made easy by Steve Krug, link in the show notes. Because he talks about ongoing usability testing once a month and using usability testing as a basis of that, and that doesn’t need to be face-to-face usability testing. Even you could use a service like usertesting.com, link in the show notes. And yes there are lots of kind of ways of continually monitoring. That’s the key, is to keep monitoring. And also when you do make changes, you need to be able to monitor whether those changes have worked or not. So doing things like split testing with services like Optimizely, link in the show notes again. All of that helps.

Marcus Lillington:
We’ve used visual website optimizer.

Paul Boag:
That’s another one, link in the show notes for that.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s pretty good. I must have gone on on this show – this is the good thing about having no memory at all, or it’s a bad thing? I don’t know, I can’t remember.

Paul Boag:
It depends on your point of view.

Marcus Lillington:
Gone on about Verifyapp and …

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
… using that for testing.

Paul Boag:
Link in the show notes. That’s a lot of links. You’re just adding loads of stuff for me to put in the show notes, aren’t you?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. But that was one of my – if I had to take anything from last year about doing my job, doing our job, it was moving design, particularly design testing on to Verifyapp and enabling kind of Facebook groups to do testing rather than trying to get seven people in a room over a day.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
I mean, okay, you can’t be quite so detailed in what you ask people, but the fact that you can get 500 people in a week …

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
… assess something is just massive.

Paul Boag:
I think especially when it comes to design that – because design is all about personal opinion and about likes and dislikes and you need large numbers of demographically accurate people to be able to get trends rather than individual opinions. It’s almost like Mark Bolton’s design by community, link in the show notes. If I can find something relating to that.

Marcus Lillington:
I have, because I recently – we recently proposed it.

Paul Boag:
Oh, right.

Marcus Lillington:
They didn’t go for it. Bad…

Paul Boag:
No, they didn’t. They chickened out. But that’s the same principle, isn’t it? That you get so much feedback that actually individual opinions don’t matter anymore. It’s kind of a more of a trend that you are looking at. So, yeah absolutely, so there is no excuse whatsoever for not kind of having an ongoing program of development with the client. And in terms of budget, because budget is this thing that clients don’t tend to think in terms of ongoing budget. The find it much easier to find money for a one-off project than an ongoing commitment monthly. I think you have got to be able to prove – this is where we come back to the KPIs measurement.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, exactly.

Paul Boag:
If you can prove that these improvements are going to generate return on investment, then over time people build confidence in spending money knowing that they are going to get money back. Now that does obviously depend on the nature of the website as to you know some websites are more suited to that than others.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah and I think – but what I was going to say is that’s obvious if you’re selling stuff or you’re getting more – if for one of the KPIs – your main KPI is to get more sales leads through and the site is doing that brilliantly then that’s obvious ROI. But if it’s not, I think what you– the way to sell it to the budget holders is that you’re not going to have another big bang.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
I mean there might be a biggish bang a bit further down the line, but it’s not going to be start again.

Paul Boag:
No. No, absolutely. I mean, there also – I think there is more that you can measure than you think you can, it’s just a lot of organizations are not set up for that. So for example, gov.uk they measure cost per transaction, which is quite an important figure for them. So for example every time you ring up, I don’t know, the tax office to ask a tax question that costs …

Marcus Lillington:
Never happens.

Paul Boag:
No. All right, whatever, whoever you contact. Normally it costs about six pounds per call to the government …

Marcus Lillington:
Right.

Paul Boag:
… for that call. Now if you can get people to do that online and it’s only costing a pound per transaction, then there is a big saving being made there.

Marcus Lillington:
You’re correct, yeah.

Paul Boag:
So there are always ways of measuring something. It might not always be perfect, but it’s measuring something in my opinion is better than measuring nothing at all.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely.

Paul Boag:
So there we go. So Andy hopefully that answers your question. How do you – let’s read the question again just to make sure, how do you work with ongoing clients to identify improvements and new features to their site and to plan a schedule of work. Yeah, so it’s all about having – it’s through iteration and through testing and through idea generation having a kind of schedule of work things just kind of wish lists and stuff like that that you then prioritize. Where it gets quite interesting is where you start dealing with bigger organizations where there are multiple stakeholders involved all of which are coming up with ideas and you start getting into this situation of how do you prioritize which ideas should be implemented first on the website. And then you need to kind of have policies surrounding who makes that decision and how they make that decision. I mean that decision should normally be made in my opinion on which is going to generate the best return on investment and do the low hanging fruits first so to speak. Okay I think that deals with that question. Let’s move on to our last question of the day.

Go on then, Marcus, do you want to read the last one?

What UX principles should everybody know about?

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. This is a difficult name, Samantha Hosea.

Paul Boag:
I would have gone Hosea.

Marcus Lillington:
Hosi – Hosea – H-O-S-E-A, hello Samantha. What is the UX principle you would like non-UX people to understand better?

Paul Boag:
Yes. Yeah, I spend quite a long time, I mean, it’s quite a good question actually.

Marcus Lillington:
I have one.

Paul Boag:
Go on, you do yours first.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s consistency and I know that’s a kind of a design thing as much of…

Paul Boag:
Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
… but I don’t think non-UX people understand the value of consistency.

Paul Boag:
You mean consistency in user interface? Navigation not moving that kind of thing?

Marcus Lillington:
And …

Paul Boag:
Labeling.

Marcus Lillington:
Labeling and also in visual design as well, which I know is not really kind of …

Paul Boag:
Yeah. It’s part of the user experience.

Marcus Lillington:
Consistency is massively important and I think that, you know what some people just don’t get good design.

Paul Boag:
No.

Marcus Lillington:
I think that’s what – that’s the first thing they need to learn.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s my opinion.

Paul Boag:
That’s a good one.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s all I thought on this questions so over to you Paul.

Paul Boag:
No, I think that’s really good actually. Consistency is a good one, because yeah it’s such a basic thing, but so many people don’t get it. I think for me I was trying to think about it, it’s something I wanted to give them something simple, if that makes sense, that they can wrap their heads around easily because you can easily bamboozle and overwhelm people. I think getting through peoples heads the importance of thinking from the user’s perspective first, right? Because you – it’s so easy to fall back into organizational structure and your view of the world rather than your user’s view of the world. Anyway, I’m sure I thought of this because that’s what I’m writing about at the moment in an expert review I’m writing, so it’s kind of in the forefront of my mind. But I think and I’ve discovered this week a little tool that I hadn’t come across before that makes that very easy for clients to get their heads around. Again it was a gov.uk, second time I’ve mentioned them, they have got – they’ve documented all of the kind of processes behind the way that they work and I will put a link in the show notes to that. There is some really great stuff in there, but there is one really simple thing called user stories, which I love. So often when we talk to clients we start getting into personas; who is this person, they have a beard, Thursdays they read the Guardian and all these kinds of things and those are great but it kind of – sometimes I feel like we’re fluffing things up to make them sound more complicated and better than they are, and that kind of information is useful. But if you could just get users to do – sorry, if you could just get clients to do one thing I think it would be to write what’s called a story card. And a story card follows a really simple pattern, right, so it has three characteristics that they define on gov.uk which is it’s got an actor, a narrative and a goal. So the actor might be as a journalist so your user is a journalist, as a journalist the narrative is I want to, right, and in the journalist case it’s – so as a journalist I want to see information relating to news articles I’m reading and then there is goal which is so that I can get directly in touch with the press office about it, right. So there’s three really simple things about each of your user groups. Who are they, what do they want to do, and why do they want to do it; what’s their goal?

Marcus Lillington:
These are great, aren’t they?

Paul Boag:
I just think that’s such a simple little tool and it’s not everything, you can’t just have that and stop there. It’s not comprehensive enough to build a website around, but for client it’s a really simple thing to get them focusing on users and not kind of get distracted by the stuff. So I’m using this now. In fact I’m going to be using it next Friday at that meeting that you’re sending me to that you can’t be bothered to turn up to yourself.

Marcus Lillington:
Can’t be bothered to?

Paul Boag:
Well, you’re back from America you would be more than capable of coming. You wouldn’t be – make a lot of sense. You’d be jetlagged and incoherent.

Marcus Lillington:
I reckon it’s going to be 10 hours, probably more than that door-to-door. I’d need to go and have a lie down under a table at some point.

Paul Boag:
Suck it up, honestly. You waltz off to America, ponce around a bit, go out to drinks and play golf with the client and then you come back. I don’t think that should let you off of work the next day. So, yeah so I’ll be doing that as an exercise. I’ll let you know how it goes, because I haven’t taken this approach before and I’ll be testing it out the client, if the client is listening to this, if I am meeting with you next Friday I am using you as a guinea pig and I hope that is okay. So yeah, by the time this comes out, it will – I don’t know – no, it will be in advance of the meeting.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, it will.

Paul Boag:
So yes, that’s – that is just a really simple thing from my point of view. But I love your consistency thing as well. I think that’s really, really good and really, really important.

Marcus Lillington:
Thanks, Paul.

Paul Boag:
For once I’m agreeing with you. There is no backhand leading insult or anything, it’s just …

Marcus Lillington:
It was a genius idea.

Paul Boag:
I wouldn’t go that far but it was a reasonable idea. But there are so many things isn’t there within UX design, but it does ultimately come down to – yeah, it does ultimately come down to just thinking what the user would want.

Marcus Lillington:
Content first, that’s a really good one.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, absolutely. Prioritization.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Is another huge one; people don’t like prioritizing content.

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
They’re terrible with that. There is so much you could put in this. Really good question, Samantha. In fact it’s so good, let’s get people answering it.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
If you go along to boagworld.com/season/6 and you select episode, what’s this – three, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
It is.

Paul Boag:
And then I will put that as the question for the comments; what is the UX principle you’d most like non-UX people to better understand and then you can post your answers in the comments. Would be really interesting to hear what you’ve got to say, but if you want to answer any of the other questions as well, you’re more than welcome to. So, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
Hello.

Paul Boag:
Joke.

Marcus Lillington:
I have got a joke, but I can’t remember who it was that sent it.
Paul Boag:
Oh, you’re so useless at that.

Marcus Lillington:
Hang on a minute. No, it’s alright. Just give me two secs.

Paul Boag:
Two secs. We’ll just sit here in silence. That’s okay. This is a professional podcast.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s from Chuck Dow.

Paul Boag:
Chuck.

Marcus Lillington:
There you go.

Paul Boag:
What I would do…

Marcus Lillington:
There were two here but I didn’t understand one of them, so I’m only going to do one of them.

Paul Boag:
Is it a techie joke?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Oh, go on tell me the one that you didn’t understand’ I want to see if I understand it.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. Why do programmers always mix up Halloween and Christmas? Because October the 31st equals December the 25th. There is two equal signs is that techie relevanty? I don’t know.

Paul Boag:
I don’t get it either. It’s really embarrassing, isn’t it? We’ve now just made idiots of ourselves.

Marcus Lillington:
Something to do with dates, American dates, I don’t know. It will be – when you write it down, it probably looks the same in words and numbers …

Paul Boag:
It will be some binary or maths thing, if you know the answer to it please let us know in the comments but please don’t make us feel stupid.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay, no. Well, no, do make us feel stupid, we didn’t get it. So, this one I did get obviously because it’s a typically stereotypical view of a developer.

Paul Boag:
Okay.

Marcus Lillington:
How do you tell an introverted computer scientist from an extroverted computer scientist?

Paul Boag:
Go on.

Marcus Lillington:
An extroverted computer scientist looks at your shoes when he is talking to you.

Paul Boag:
It’s so foundless.

Marcus Lillington:
These are not my jokes, by the way. I did not – well I kind of selected them, but they were sent to me and they are the only ones that were sent so please do send me more.

Paul Boag:
I wish our developers were introverted really. They’re far too loudmouth in my opinion. Developers should be like children; seen and not heard.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh dear.

Paul Boag:
Now I’m in serious trouble. Okay, so I think that wraps up this week’s show. There will be a show next week. I am confident. I have had an idea, Marcus, of when we can do it.

Marcus Lillington:
We are doing it over the phone? Yay.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, we will do a phone one this Friday or something like that, end of this week.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, we can do that.

Paul Boag:
So, we will have a show for you next week. Yeah, so send in stories, send in – not stories, what am I talking about?

Marcus Lillington:
Jokes. Send in stories, bedtime stories.

Paul Boag:
Send in once upon a time. Just not Twilight because I cant cope with anymore of that. My wife is pushing me over the edge.

Marcus Lillington:
Twilight?

Paul Boag:
Oh, she is obsessed with it.

Marcus Lillington:
What’s that?

Paul Boag:
Twilight, the film Twilight, vampire, sparkly vampire.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t watch crap like that.

Paul Boag:
Have you – is your wife not interested in stuff like that?

Marcus Lillington:
God no.

Paul Boag:
Oh, God. You’ve got such a cool wife.

Marcus Lillington:
She likes – what does Caroline like. I mean we like quite a lot of things – we really like Suits, that’s something that we like a lot.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, see that’s good.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s good telly. She watches a lot of Doctor Who and Broadchurch and stuff like that as well.

Paul Boag:
What’s Broadchurch? Everybody keeps mentioning it.

Marcus Lillington:
Same writer as Doctor Who I think.

Paul Boag:
Oh Steven Moffat?

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
Oh Russell T. Davis?

Marcus Lillington:
No, somebody, I don’t know.

Paul Boag:
You’re just making up.

Marcus Lillington:
Anyway she watches these things that I don’t watch.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
But no, she’s not – I have never heard of – well not never heard, I hadn’t really …

Paul Boag:
Twilight is like super famous; it’s like Harry Potter famous.

Marcus Lillington:
Really?

Paul Boag:

Yeah.
Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
Good for you, mind. If you’ve managed to get through life being able avoid that. The best description I have ever heard of Twilight is it’s a girls struggle – a girl’s indecision between bestiality and necrophilia, because this girl is in love with the vampire and a werewolf. So it’s yes, just wonderful. So, yes I can’t get over the fact you never heard of Twilight. Have you heard of 50 Shades of Grey?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Right that was based on Twilight. Started as fan fiction for Twilight, but then they just chucked in a load of gratuitous sex.

Marcus Lillington:
Really? Okay.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
She hasn’t read that either.

Paul Boag:
Oh, okay.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t think.

Paul Boag:
Anyway, so yes don’t send in stories, because we don’t want those.

Marcus Lillington:
Stories. Yeah.

Paul Boag:
No, we want questions.

Marcus Lillington:
50 Shades of Grey’s type stories.

Paul Boag:
No, definitely not.

Marcus Lillington:
Read out in strange voices – accents.

Paul Boag:
Send in questions please, may they be audio please and please do not do them in stupid accents. Thank you very much for listening and we will return again next week with more exciting episodes of Boagworld.

“Young white Caucasian male adult has way too many questions in his head” image courtesy of Bigstock.com

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