Boagworld Show S06E09

Web & Digital Advice

Digital and web advice from Headscape and the addled brain of Paul Boag... tell me more

Paul Boag Posted by: Paul Boag On Thursday, 13th June, 2013

Culture, influence and Adobe

This week on the boagworld podcast we talk about Adobe’s new attempt to fleece us, being under appreciated and creating an awesome company culture.

Season 6:
The estimated time to read this article is 61 minutes
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Paul Boag:
This week on the Boagworld podcast we talk about Adobe’s attempt to fleece us, being under appreciated and creating an awesome company culture.

I’m feeling nervous.

Marcus Lillington:
Because you’re going to be on the telly or you’ve been on the telly.

Paul Boag:
I’ve been on the telly.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, but no one will have seen it.

Paul Boag:
No. Tonight I’m on the BBC; I’m going to be on the telly.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, that’s quite exciting.

Paul Boag:
It’s really funny. How come I can stand up quite happily in front of eight hundred people and not feel the slightest bit nervous but yet I am worrying about an interview that has already been recorded, right. So there is nothing I can do about it, and yet I’m worrying about that going out tonight.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s because we will all be laughing like hyenas.

Paul Boag:
You will be laughing your arses off, you mean. So in case you missed it, you might be able to get it via BBC iPlayer because this will come next week, so it will still be on iPlayer.

Marcus Lillington:
I wonder if they do – do they do Newsnight on iPlayer?

Paul Boag:
They do. Newsnight – I checked because of course I’m not going to be around to listen to it tonight, afterall – or watch it even. It is Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman …

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
… except I didn’t – luckily I didn’t have to talk to him …

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, because he would have just said, stop being stupid boy.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Instead I was talking to Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC technology correspondent who is lovely.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
He is my new best friend.

Marcus Lillington:
Really?

Paul Boag:
Well, he is quite pleased – he likes me at the moment because I introduced him to If That Then This, that he had never come across and then he spent his whole weekend faffing around with that apparently.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
But anyway yes, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

Marcus Lillington:
Paul on the telly. Obviously –

Paul Boag:
Nothing to do with web design.

Marcus Lillington:
I was going to say – I was going to lie for a bit then and it is because we’re about to win on Oscar for web design.

Paul Boag:
An Oscar for web design? Awesome.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t know.

Paul Boag:
They call them Webbies, don’t they? Is that the big one in web design?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, maybe.

Paul Boag:
I don’t know.

Marcus Lillington:
Could be.

Paul Boag:
I’m not an awards person. Some companies are really into like winning awards and stuff. We’ve only ever won awards when …

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, it’s because it takes effort.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. We’ve only ever won awards when the client has put us in for them.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. And we have won some good ones. But yeah …

Paul Boag:
Never under our own steam.

Marcus Lillington:
I think that – I don’t know. It’s just pointless.

Paul Boag:
I think a lot of it…

Marcus Lillington:
You almost have to employ someone to do it for you.

Paul Boag:
It’s a bit of a racket…

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
… because a lot of them you have to pay to enter.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, exactly.

Paul Boag:
Which is –

Marcus Lillington:
And if you say – and I suspect if – you’re viewed – viewed favorably if you’re a sponsor for the event and all those kinds of things.

Paul Boag:
Yes. It’s all a big wheeze to get money out of people.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
So I haven’t got lot of time for awards.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
So – while being interviewed on TV, now that, that is a …

Marcus Lillington:
You’re on the telly, Paul, really?

Paul Boag:
… on the – that I think really shows you’ve reached the pinnacle in your career.

Marcus Lillington:
So you can retire now.

Paul Boag:
Even though I am talking about nothing to do web design. I am talking about …

Marcus Lillington:
What are you talking about, Paul?

Paul Boag:
Talking about wearable technology. I don’t know anything about it. I took part in – but it all came back because I took part in some research project – research study by the University of somewhere or other, I can’t remember …

Marcus Lillington:
It’s quite important that, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Goldsmith University.

Marcus Lillington:
Goldsmith? Never heard of it. Okay.

Paul Boag:
Gold – yeah, some – some London one anyway.

Marcus Lillington:
London one, okay.

Paul Boag:
And so to part in that and I think she realized, oh here is a gobby git, we can put him on telly.

Marcus Lillington:
Let’s put him on the telly?

Paul Boag:
Yeah. So that’s good. So I’m feeling nervous about that. I’m not a nervous person.

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
But there you go.

Marcus Lillington:
What else is there to talk about?

Paul Boag:
I’m going to Glasgow.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, yeah, okay.

Paul Boag:
That’s cool. I’m doing cool stuff. I’m doing …

Marcus Lillington:
Oh you must go out to eat in the restaurant I went – to last time?

Paul Boag:
Oh right.

Marcus Lillington:
Must. Must.

Paul Boag:
Must.

Marcus Lillington:
I can’t remember what it’s called.

Paul Boag:
Well that’s not a lot of use, is it?

Marcus Lillington:
Central market.

Paul Boag:
Central market.

Marcus Lillington:
Yum.

Paul Boag:
So going up to talk about – we’re educating stakeholders. This seems to be the new thing that we’re doing.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Lots of workshops, educating big organizations, that have got lots of people that like interfering with the website. And we go up and show them what designing websites is really like and the challenges that are around it and how we need to cut your web team some slack.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
It’s good actually, I really enjoy it. So the whole day of it tomorrow, presentations back to back all day and Chris is moaning about giving one. I’ve got three to give and he has got to give one.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, this is someone who won’t to come on the podcast, because it’s too scary.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, he will stand up and do a workshop. I don’t get that.

Marcus Lillington:
He doesn’t want to.

Paul Boag:
Well, no he doesn’t want to but he will.

Marcus Lillington:
For the same reason.

Paul Boag:
I don’t understand people not wanting to be in the limelight going…

Marcus Lillington:
Whooo!

Paul Boag:
Look at me, look at me.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, exactly. Yes, I’m the same.

Paul Boag:
Just strange isn’t it? Yes. So what has being going on in your world? What exciting news – have you been on telly recently; just saying, have you?

Marcus Lillington:
I’m probably on telly everyday, Paul.

Paul Boag:
You probably are somewhere.

Marcus Lillington:
Somewhere.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that’s a really scary thought. I bet you are.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m not on telly everyday.

Paul Boag:
You’ll probably be on the radio everyday somewhere?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Because – especially with these Internet radios rechurn all the old crap.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh no question, no question, yes. Yes so – yeah, there you go. How do you feel now?

Paul Boag:
Very inadequate. I feel like I have failed in life. Well, it depends on how you look at it, either I have failed in life or – or your best days are behind you, one or the other.

Marcus Lillington:
I was – that thought was definitely in my head because those radio plays have got nothing to do with what I do now…

Paul Boag:
No?

Marcus Lillington:
… at all. So I am…

Paul Boag:
But that’s quite impressive, Marcus. You have had two successful careers in your lifetime. Think of it that way.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, wow.

Paul Boag:
Twice are you at the pinnacle of –

Marcus Lillington:
Does that mean I can stop now?

Paul Boag:
No, you have to do one more, just for good luck. What are you going to do next one?

Marcus Lillington:
I’m going to be …

Paul Boag:
Gardening, you always say.

Marcus Lillington:
… yes I’m going to be a good – I’m going to be good at growing my own vegetables.

Paul Boag:
Wouldn’t that be great. Self – start one of those still self-sufficient farm things; live the good life.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. Down in Devon.

Marcus Lillington:
Can I do that tomorrow?

Paul Boag:
Absolutely. Well, let’s sell Headscape. Anybody want to buy Headscape? If you’re out there and you want to buy Headscape …

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, for lots of money.

Paul Boag:
… lots of money with requiring nothing from us in return. That’s the kind of deal that we’re looking for. Facebook, if you’re listening to us, you can buy us for $1 billion in the same way as you bought Instagram that will be fine.

Marcus Lillington:
I recommend we could go for a bit less than that.

Paul Boag:
Although – see I –

Marcus Lillington:
Honestly, just a little bit.

Paul Boag:
You but you say that, but an American billion isn’t worth that much, is it? Because their billion is worth less than an English billion.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, but the English billion doesn’t really exist anymore.

Paul Boag:
Doesn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
We use the same.

Paul Boag:
Have we gone across to their billion?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. I think maybe mathematically…

Paul Boag:
They are corrupting us.

Marcus Lillington:
… the English billion is still in use.

Paul Boag:
Well it’s ridiculous. I don’t understand because the American one makes no sense to me, right. So, a hundred 100s are a thousand – no they are not. So actually the American one is right and we’re wrong.

Marcus Lillington:
No, not necessarily, because a thousand 1000s is a million. It just differs.

Paul Boag:
Oh yeah. Inconsistent.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
I don’t like inconsistency. I thought mathematicians were supposed to be logical.

Marcus Lillington:
But a 1,000 million does make sense when you’re talking about money, because a billion, billion – a – sorry, a million, million

Paul Boag:
A million million.

Marcus Lillington:
… is just nuts.

Paul Boag:
Silly amounts of money.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
Nobody would be able to say they are a billionaire and that will be sad.

Marcus Lillington:
From a financial point of view, a thousand million makes a lot more sense.

Paul Boag:
I could settle for a thousand million.

Marcus Lillington:
That is a billion.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. I could settle for that. How do you calculate how much – it’s a really quite interesting question, how do you calculate how much –

Marcus Lillington:
How do you calculate how much Instagram was worth?

Paul Boag:
Well, not Instagram –

Marcus Lillington:
No but seriously, I’d like to know.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I know. It’s – the – Facebook bought Instagram because Instagram were a threat to what Facebook wanted to do. So that was the – they bought them to get them out of the way, to remove the competition.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Because if they hadn’t bought them Google or someone else would have bought them. It’s all these kinds of maneuverings.

Marcus Lillington:
They didn’t pay a billion for them, did they?

Paul Boag:
Not in cash, no. No. But no, what I’m quite interested is how do you – because there is very specific kind of ways that you calculate how much some companies are worth. But with a service based business – if somebody bought Headscape how on earth would you work out how much it is worth?

Marcus Lillington:
Well you hear different stories on this. Some people say the most negative or the smallest measure is last year’s turnover.

Paul Boag:
Right. So £2.50

Marcus Lillington:
£2.50 – no, turnover though.

Paul Boag:
So £5.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, not profit. Otherwise – I’ve heard that goes as high as three times last year’s turnover, but it has to do with your turnover basically.

Paul Boag:
But the trouble is with buying a service business is that it’s so reliant on the people behind it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah. There is also your client list…

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
… that’s what people are buying and also you may be a threat.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s the other one.

Paul Boag:
So we need to be threatening.

Marcus Lillington:
Threatening, yes, very threatening.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, Facebook we’re going to take you down, somehow.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, it’s a lot more difficult to quantify then we going to buy your product.

Paul Boag:
That’s interesting.

Marcus Lillington:
But – yeah. But we are for sale always, to the right buyer obviously.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, because we’re about a lifestyle business, which is selling up and sitting on a beach.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly, running away and leaving everyone here.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. That’s quite the opposite actually. But anyway, so – how did we get on to that subject? I have no idea.

Marcus Lillington:
Don’t know.

Paul Boag:
Shall we talk about web design stuff?

Is Adobe’s creative cloud a good deal?

Hello Paul, hello Marcus. This is Drew calling with a response to your plea for audio questions as well as your challenge, to give you my best English accent. Hopefully I’m not embarrassing myself too badly, probably just copying somebody from Harry Potter. Anyway, what I wanted to do was not so much ask you a question really, but get your opinion on Adobe’s move to the Cloud. I don’t think I’ve heard you discuss it very much on the podcast, if at all. And I think it’s an interesting topic and I’d like to know what you think as far as how it affects Headscape and how you think it affects the design industry in general.

For the listeners who aren’t familiar, after Adobe CS6, Adobe will no longer be creating a sellable software. They will only be renting it, so whereas before I could pay $850 and use Adobe CS forever, now I would have to pay $50 a month for the same software and of course going along with that, if I stopped paying them, I wouldn’t be able to edit any of my files anymore, because I don’t have the version of the software I created them with, and furthermore for people like me who don’t buy the updates very often and who largely do work for clients who are – either aren’t paying me very much or aren’t paying me at all, non-profits and pro bono work and volunteer jobs and things like that, I would probably simply have to stop doing it if I didn’t already own a license for CS5.

So I’m curious as to whether you think this creates any sort of barriers to entry for new designers, whether you think this raises the bottom line for agencies like yours that may have several Adobe products that you need to keep up to-date, that sort of thing. Looking forward to hearing your response, cheers, and I will just drop the accent and say thanks for doing a great podcast and look forward to hearing more. Take it easy, guys. Bye.

Drew Rothman

I’ve noticed I have become formulaic. I always say should we talk about web design stuff now? And then we move on to the next section. I need to mix it up.

Marcus Lillington:
Paul, I could have told you that about five years ago, because I’ve been editing these for eight years.

Paul Boag:
Right, we’ll cut out that comment when you edit it this week.

Marcus Lillington:
No, no.

Paul Boag:
Right, well, cut out that comment when you edit it this week. I want to be different. Can we do it again?

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
Let’s talk about jelly.

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t really like jelly.

Paul Boag:
Don’t you?

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
Why not?

Marcus Lillington:
It’s one of…

Paul Boag:
Jelly and ice cream?

Marcus Lillington:
‘I don’t really like…’ when it comes to food is a very rare saying for me. Jelly is a bit kind of like meh…

Paul Boag:
If you put jelly on ice cream, I’m still like a five year old. I like going to birthday parties and eating jelly and ice cream.

Marcus Lillington:
Because I really like trifle, but not if you put jelly in it.

Paul Boag:
How can you have trifle without jelly?

Marcus Lillington:
Proper trifle doesn’t have jelly in it.

Paul Boag:
That’s weird.

Marcus Lillington:
And it’s not a snobby thing. It just doesn’t taste right. Even though I can be a bit snobby about some things.

Paul Boag:
You’re snobby about anything. Food or alcohol, you get snobby about. And music obviously. Web design you’ll let any old shit go out really.

Marcus Lillington:
Any old crap.

Paul Boag:
So our first question, do you recognize the name Drew Rothman?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, and I don’t know where from.

Paul Boag:
Think back. Think back quite a long way to the intersection of your second career and your first career. That’s a clue.

Marcus Lillington:
Really?

Paul Boag:
Yeah. That was a moment where your two careers, your pop career and your web design career collided in a great and spectacular moment produced by Drew Rothman. That’s really given it way.

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
Do you remember Hands to Boag?

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Paul Boag:
He wrote Hands to Boagworld.

Marcus Lillington:
There you go.

Paul Boag:
I will put a link in the show notes, if I can find it, I don’t know where it is anymore, but it was basically what Drew, I mean, it’s brilliant, if you didn’t hear it. So Drew wrote – took Marcus’s greatest hit from his web design – no, web design career? His pop star career, which was Hands to Heaven and created a parody of it, which was Hands to Boagworld, which was all about CSS and web standards because it was when we were proclaiming web standards when not everybody was doing it. So it’s very, very good. Very worth listening to and the fascinating thing about Drew is apparently he has got this amazing ability to mimic and you can see why when you listen to this question. It is quite incredible. All right, let’s listen to his question, you will see what I mean.

Drew Rothman:
Hello Paul, hello Marcus. This is Drew calling with a response to your plea for audio questions as well as your challenge, to give you my best English accent. Hopefully I’m not embarrassing myself too badly, probably just copying somebody from Harry Potter. Anyway, what I wanted to do was not so much ask you a question really, but get your opinion on Adobe’s move to the Cloud. I don’t think I’ve heard you discuss it very much on the podcast, if at all. And I think it’s an interesting topic and I’d like to know what you think as far as how it affects Headscape and how you think it affects the design industry in general.

For the listeners who aren’t familiar, after Adobe CS6, Adobe will no longer be creating a sellable software. They will only be renting it, so whereas before I could pay $850 and use Adobe CS forever, now I would have to pay $50 a month for the same software and of course going along with that, if I stopped paying them, I wouldn’t be able to edit any of my files anymore, because I don’t have the version of the software I created them with, and furthermore for people like me who don’t buy the updates very often and who largely do work for clients who are – either aren’t paying me very much or aren’t paying me at all, non-profits and pro bono work and volunteer jobs and things like that, I would probably simply have to stop doing it if I didn’t already own a license for CS5.

So I’m curious as to whether you think this creates any sort of barriers to entry for new designers, whether you think this raises the bottom line for agencies like yours that may have several Adobe products that you need to keep up to-date, that sort of thing. Looking forward to hearing your response, cheers, and I will just drop the accent and say thanks for doing a great podcast and look forward to hearing more. Take it easy, guys. Bye.

Paul Boag:
So when he dropped the accent, it sounded fake to me.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, exactly. It’s like me putting on an American accent.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. It was really bizarre.

Marcus Lillington:
The odd word, wasn’t it?

Paul Boag:
The odd word went Australian, didn’t it? But other than that, that was really quite an impressive accent, I thought.

Marcus Lillington:
He sounded just like somebody who would work for a London agency.

Paul Boag:
Yes. He did.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Yes, with the public school upbringing.

Marcus Lillington:
But it’s a bit public school and a bit kind of like, you know, I’m taking the Jag out at the weekend.

Paul Boag:
Yes, absolutely. I was really impressed. He is definitely…

Marcus Lillington:
Opened for the club on the weekend with 120 not out.

Paul Boag:
But I was – I was totally taken in. So it’s really good. So no wonder he was able to create such a good parody of Hands to Heaven. He has obviously got a natural gifting in that area.

Marcus Lillington:
Fantastic. Yeah, well, actually he sounds better English than he does American.

Paul Boag:
Oh much better, yes. Much more acceptable. He doesn’t sound so thick, does he, when he’s English?

Marcus Lillington:
I didn’t say that, Paul.

Paul Boag:
I said that. I don’t care, I’m not afraid.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I think some American accents are fine. It’s just his American accent was really strong. Maybe he was overdoing it.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, he must have been overdoing it and I think he was possibly – it was also the massive contrast of suddenly going from English into American. So I don’t want to talk about his question, I just wanted to play back his audio really. No, it’s a good question, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
It is. And I didn’t realize …

Paul Boag:
Oh right, what didn’t you realize?

Marcus Lillington:
I didn’t realize that it was an either or. I thought it was like you can rent it or you can buy it.

Paul Boag:
It was for a little while.

Marcus Lillington:
But you can’t buy it?

Paul Boag:
No.

Marcus Lillington:
Bastards!

Paul Boag:
No.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, yes.

Paul Boag:
No, no. no.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes! Absolutely. We don’t all want to have the latest thing all the time. You just want to buy something for – maybe if you were just somebody who just wanted to potter about doing web design-y stuff, or even print design-y stuff…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, okay, yep.

Marcus Lillington:
…I’m talking about here, then you just buy it and use that one for 10 years and then maybe use another one.

Paul Boag:
Well, yes and no, right. Here’s my feelings on the subject. First of all is there are – for the amateur, he was talking about people that did pro bono or charity work, the low end of the spectrum, to be frank, there are a lot of very, very good pieces of software out there that are not Adobe …

Marcus Lillington:
That’s the other thing.

Paul Boag:
… that are damn cheap. Pixelmator, things like Coda. There is all these kinds of great products, link in the show notes to maybe a few of them.

Marcus Lillington:
There are alternatives, yes.

Paul Boag:
So there are some alternatives that are priced for that audience. The truth is up, until this point, that audience have been pirating Adobe software. Let’s be honest about it. Students, people like that, they’ve just been pirating the software and I did the same when I was at that kind of point in my career and I can understand Adobe reacting to that.

Marcus Lillington:
I didn’t. I’m a good example, I don’t use Photoshop anymore. What I used to use was, I don’t know, I can’t even remember what they were called, the previous versions. I don’t know, 7, say, I had that for two or three years and that was fine for what I needed it for. And then things like Pixelmator come along and I just replaced them with that.

Paul Boag:
But that was because Headscape bought those licenses, you didn’t pay for those licenses.

Marcus Lillington:
Correct.

Paul Boag:
There is no way you would have paid 400 quid for a piece of graphics software that you use once in a blue moon.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I agree. But Headscape paying for it for me was fine, but $50 a month for me, pointless.

Paul Boag:
Well, it makes – no, because I think ultimately probably it works out cheaper.

Marcus Lillington:
No, but for me, not for you.

Paul Boag:
No, I mean for you, right. Let’s think about it for a minute. You probably use Photoshop, I don’t know, once every few months you open something that needs Photoshop rather than something like Pixelmator. Less than that maybe.

Marcus Lillington:
Less than that.

Paul Boag:
Right, so instead of having to buy a license at 300 and 400 quid, you just get one month’s worth of subscription at 50 quid and then you turn it off again. And he was talking about oh yeah, but what about situations where the client – you’re doing some work for client, you build it and then they come back to you loads later, so you just get a one month’s license for it. You don’t have to continually pay for this license month in and month out when you’re not working. For someone starting out in freelancing that may be doing a bit in the evenings, they can – if they get a project in, they add $50 on to the cost of the project for the month that they need that bit of software for.

Marcus Lillington:
What’s stopping people pirating this though still?

Paul Boag:
I don’t know because I don’t understand enough about how it works, but it is calling back to the server a lot more often. So it is much harder. There will be – yeah, people will find ways round it, I’m sure they will. But it’s just a change in business model that Adobe have gone for and for somebody – something like Headscape, it actually makes a lot of sense because the problem that we have – we’ve got not actually that many people that need it now, but at one stage, we maybe probably had six people that needed Adobe licenses. And we had a problem whereby the new version would come out and then we would have to have this big debate of do we get it or don’t we, is it worth it, is it not, and then there is a big capital outlay all of a sudden.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
This way, you’re spreading the cost, month in month out, you always get the latest thing, it’s a predictable cost. If you’re starting out as a freelancer, you don’t have to suddenly find maybe a couple of grand upfront when you first start to – in a big lump sum, you’re just paying an ongoing amount and furthermore is – there is always the issue where for example, I use – as a designer, I used to use Photoshop day in and day out. It was my workhorse.

Occasionally, I would want Illustrator, right? So and occasionally at that time, I would want Flash and so do I have to buy licenses for those when I only want them once in a blue moon? Actually, I think this model, which means that I could download whatever software I needed, there is Adobe – the audio programs that Adobe have got are all there on the rare occasions I need them. Or Premiere, on the rare occasions that I need them. So actually, I think I like the idea. Have I convinced you, because you were totally against it when we started?

Marcus Lillington:
No, I wasn’t actually. I was …

Paul Boag:
You were, you called them bastards.

Marcus Lillington:
For not giving people the choice. I’m not saying it’s not right for some people, and I still don’t think it’s right for everyone.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I don’t – I have to say I don’t know why they chose to do that.

Marcus Lillington:
However, as you quite rightly pointed out, there are alternatives, so actually it’s not that big an issue.

Paul Boag:
I don’t think it is. I mean, there is some really – there is some much better coding environments definitely. Pixelmator will do, as you say, the majority of stuff that you need to do.

Marcus Lillington:
The only thing it struggles with for me is if you need to do anything with text. It’s a bit rubbish.

Paul Boag:
Right, it’s a bit crap on that, is it?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
But they will step up to the mark on that. Now Leigh found a really good piece of software…

Marcus Lillington:
Leigh uses Fireworks anyway.

Paul Boag:
Well, yeah, but that’s Adobe.

Marcus Lillington:
Ah! See, it’s all been bought out by Adobe.

Paul Boag:
Yeah. That is the problem is that they buy out. Now Leigh was – found a new vector thing that he was moving away even from Fireworks. I can’t remember what it was, let me see if I can find it. I think it was something called Sprite maybe or – I can’t remember, Evernote, Fireworks, let’s see whether – aha!

Ah, he’s moved into something called Sketch, which I’ve never come across actually. So we will put a link in the show notes to Sketch. So that’s his alternative to Fireworks now. So that’s very interesting – out of interest, that’s the designer’s tool box. This looks like it might be it. Designer’s tool box, Sketch, for a professional vector graphics app with beautiful interface and powerful tools. So I mean, there are some great apps out there. Oh yeah, this looks like the kind of thing.

Marcus Lillington:
What does it cost?

Paul Boag:
That’s a very good question. It’s a free trial.

Marcus Lillington:
We used to do a show like this?

Paul Boag:
Or in the Macs – yeah, we did. Didn’t we? Let’s have a look, see, it’s on the Mac Store. So it’s only Mac orientated.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, is it on the Mac Store?

Paul Boag:
50 quid.

Marcus Lillington:
So a little bit more than Pixelmator, which I think is £36.

Paul Boag:
But even still, that’s…

Marcus Lillington:
50 quid, yeah. Yeah, I mean, anyone who is interested would be probably – apart from maybe a student, would be interested in that.

Paul Boag:
And students are going to pirate whatever.

Marcus Lillington:
Sweeping statement.

Paul Boag:
Let’s be honest about it. But so I actually think if they’d done this six years ago, it would have been more of a stitch-up. But I think that the industry has shifted. Now if I was a print designer, I might…

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, now I’ve got Sketch here at £34.99.

Paul Boag:
Oh, that’s different. Perhaps my…

Marcus Lillington:
Graphics and design, yeah? Sketch Graphics and Sketch 2, £34.99.

Paul Boag:
What’s going on there?

Marcus Lillington:
Sketch is a designer’s toolbox…

Paul Boag:
Oh, it took me – sorry, it took me to the Mac version that was $49.99, and of course you’re seeing the – yeah, £34.99.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly the same price as Pixelmator then, I believe.

Paul Boag:
So there we go.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s interesting.

Paul Boag:
It is. I might check that out myself.

Marcus Lillington:
I wonder if Leigh bought that on Headscape.

Paul Boag:
Why? Because obviously we would buy separate licenses.

Marcus Lillington:
Obviously, we would. Wouldn’t we? Yes.

Paul Boag:
So, yeah. Whether I’d feel the same if I was a print designer because – where perhaps there aren’t as good alternatives, I don’t know, or if you’re a – no, I know that there are good options if you’re a photographer. But certainly for web designers, I don’t think it’s that big a deal personally. Should we move on to another question?

How do I get people in my company to take me seriously?

The challenge I face is that I’m viewed somebody whose job is just to implement the ideas of others. I’m fed up building what I know are bad ideas because those above me just don’t get the web. What can I do about this or should I just leave and get a job with an agency like Headscape?

Brad Gill

Paul Boag:
Do you want to read this one out?

Marcus Lillington:
This is from Brad Gill.

Paul Boag:
Brad Gill?

Marcus Lillington:
We are assuming Brad’s American.

Paul Boag:
Got to be.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
Ah yes, he says so in the first sentence.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh yes, here we go. I work for a large charity here in the U.S. – doesn’t make him American.

Paul Boag:
No, he could be Italian living in America.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, with a name like Brad Gill.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. The challenge I face is that I’m viewed as somebody whose job it is just – whose job it is to – sorry, start again.

Paul Boag:
Sorry, Brad. I apologize for the…

Marcus Lillington:
The challenge I face is that I’m viewed somebody whose job is just to implement the ideas of others. I’m fed up building what I know are bad ideas because those above me just don’t get the web. What can I do about this or should I just leave and get a job with an agency like Headscape?

Paul Boag:
Good question. We deal with this…

Marcus Lillington:
Leave.

Paul Boag:
Oh, Marcus. We deal with this kind of thing all the time, isn’t it? This is the kind of staple of what we spend most of our lives helping internal web teams deal with.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s true, yeah, because…

Paul Boag:
I think a lot of it is that a lot of web teams are borne out of IT. And IT is seen as a service department. You go – they service the rest of the business.

Marcus Lillington:
But then IT probably suffer the same issue as well. They’re probably saying – they probably feel it should be their job to implement a new CRM or something like that. It should come from them.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, probably.

Marcus Lillington:
Because it – we’re not just a service department, we should be making recommendations on types of systems and that kind of thing. So yeah, same thing. So therefore your argument doesn’t fit, Paul.

Paul Boag:
I think – it does fit, it still applies, that that’s why people perceive IT – sorry, web teams in that way. It doesn’t mean that – but I’m not – I am saying that it shouldn’t remain like that and perhaps it shouldn’t with IT either.

Marcus Lillington:
No, I mean, I think – and that’s actually – probably in IT’s case, they have – what we’re currently going through and where we’re slowly getting to on this is we’re trying to empower web teams to make them more in control of their own destiny, that kind of thing.

Paul Boag:
We were talking about that only this morning, weren’t we?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, we were.

Paul Boag:
Creating a responsibility assignment matrix.

Marcus Lillington:
Indeed.

Paul Boag:
…which is a fancy way of saying, look, let the web team get on with it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, exactly. I also think there is an issue and this still exists in that senior management in pretty much anywhere still sees the web as something that their little nephew does.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
I guess that’s a bit unfair, particularly – that’s not the case in anywhere that sells stuff online. They would certainly appreciate it if they’re making lots of money from their website.

Paul Boag:
Yes, that helps.

Marcus Lillington:
But if they’re not, I suspect it’s always seen as a bit like, oh, we’re going to do the new brand and the new brochures, oh and you need to make sure somebody in the web team does something. So yeah, that kind of lack of representation at high levels is what I think is part of the problem.

Paul Boag:
So we – so far we’ve agreed with Brad that this is a problem, but we have offered him nothing in the way of solutions.

Marcus Lillington:
Hire Headscape.

Paul Boag:
How do we – okay, so what is it – let’s – we will presume that he doesn’t have the authority to hire Headscape, right. So what do we do when we go in to address this problem?

Marcus Lillington:
We do stakeholder interviews. That’s a really important thing we do. Well, actually the first thing we do is do a review of what they’ve got to highlight all the stuff that’s wrong and make some recommendations about how that might be fixed and probably as part of those recommendations we talk about responsibilities, about getting these things – you talk – you often do these reviews, you talk about the boom and bust cycle and how to avoid that, and if you’re not doing boom and bust i.e. lots of investment, new wonderful thing, everyone – senior management is involved and they sign off and then everyone forgets about it. If that’s not going to happen, and everyone will agree with you if you say we shouldn’t be doing this, everyone will say absolutely right, yes, dead right. To support that you’ve got to empower the team who are looking after it.

Paul Boag:
Right. So, Brad, there is nothing to stop Brad choosing to write a document like that even if he is a junior nothing.

Marcus Lillington:
Correct. Exactly. He probably should get – he should try – that’s a good point actually. So I’m thinking out loud here, it would be really, really helpful if he can get a supporter at senior level. I think we’ve got – so basically I’m being Brad, I think we’ve got a problem, Mr. Senior Person, with the website. It’s not serving the organization as well as it could be, I’ve got a lot of ideas about how we could improve it, will you support me in talking to the rest of the company about what our requirements are, how we could do things better?

Paul Boag:
But do you think Brad needs to take a document to Mr. Senior Manager?

Marcus Lillington:
It depends how friendly they are.

Paul Boag:
Right.

Marcus Lillington:
If he can get somebody onboard before that…

Paul Boag:
Even better.

Marcus Lillington:
…even better.

Paul Boag:
But I think the key there is not to just …

Marcus Lillington:
When I say senior, I mean, if you can get the CEO or whatever …

Paul Boag:
But then a lot of people that are – we’re making a presumption about Brad that he is a – he is at the bottom of the heap, poor old Brad.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, he did say that he is being viewed as just as an implementer.

Paul Boag:
Yes. So it’s going to be quite hard for him to get the attention of the CEO depending on the size of the company.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, true. A large charity.

Paul Boag:
But I think the key there is to talk about – to not just go, there is a problem with the web, you’ve got to offer solutions. That’s the key thing. And another aspect of it, I think, is the other thing that we do is again what we’ve – what I was talking about at the beginning of this show, this idea of we’re spending a lot of time now doing stakeholder education.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
I’m running training sessions, and I’m going to write about this, I’m going to blog about this a little bit more. But essentially do – we do, like tomorrow I’m running three presentations and Chris is doing a fourth, so we’re looking at an introduction to analytics.

Marcus Lillington:
Shouldn’t Chris be doing two and you be doing two?

Paul Boag:
I think that that would be only fair.

Marcus Lillington:
Wouldn’t that be fair?

Paul Boag:
It would be fair.

Marcus Lillington:
I think you should dump one of yours briefly on him, like with five minutes before.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I think he’d like that. Because he is always so helpful in situations like that.

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve interrupted Paul mid counting, which is always funny.

Paul Boag:
So one is – he is doing – we’re doing an analytics workshop, so basically sitting down with a load of stakeholders and saying okay, so let’s look at what you can do with analytics, let’s see what we can discover about our websites through analytics, right.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
So that’s one thing we’re doing. We’re doing an introduction to wire framing. Okay, so this is how you make decisions about wire frame, you set your business objectives, you set your users’ needs, and do a whole series of exercises around that, which gets the stakeholders kind of thinking in the right way. But also…

Marcus Lillington:
About priorities.

Paul Boag:
About priorities, but also helps to show you as the expert. That’s the other reason for doing these. Get them thinking the right way, build up your own expertise. What else am I doing? I’m doing a writing for the web one, which is another area where people need a lot of help. So that’s another area and I’m doing something else.

Marcus Lillington:
No, that’s three for you – oh no, one of them was…

Paul Boag:
One of the – no, that is – four in total, three for me, one for Chris, but I can’t remember what the other one is. Let’s try and find out. Let’s see what it is. I really should know this, that’s quite terrible that I don’t, but I can’t.

Marcus Lillington:
While Paul is looking, Brad, you may be thinking, oh horror of all horrors, I can’t stand up in front of people doing something like this.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that is a fair comment.

Marcus Lillington:
But you could write a document covering – analyzing stats, with real examples, very, very important.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, the other one I was doing was on navigation.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
It is essentially to start the conversation, start educating and establish yourself as experts. You’re right, Marcus, you could record a video, you could write a document, you could do a weekly newsletter that covers different things. You could do a workshop or do an internal podcast even. There are lots of ways of essentially starting to educate people in the company and spread good practice about web design. Even if you’re just referring to other people, what other people have written, if you’re sending around people, hey, check out this brilliant article on boagworld.com, you’re showing your knowledge and that you’re well read, and you’re also kind of educating people in the company about best practice as well. What other things do we do? Lots of review-y type stuff.

Marcus Lillington:
Getting your user’s opinion.

Paul Boag:
Yes, user testing is a brilliant way and there are some great apps out there that make that very cheap and very easy. You can use things like Verify app, link in the show notes for that one, which will allow you to test different design concepts. So if a client comes back to you with a ridiculous idea, by all means mock it up, and then test it on Verify and then there is usertesting.com, which is remote user testing, link in the show notes, really cheap, really easy to do and really highlights stupid ideas very well. So testing is a – yeah, it’s another great thing.

Marcus Lillington:
Or running surveys.

Paul Boag:
Surveys, yeah, I forgot surveys, that’s great. I found out that Google have got a really good survey tool, link in the show notes for that, which is really annoying because I’ve been looking for a good survey tool for ages and am currently spending a lot of money on one that’s nowhere near as good. But there you go, Consumer Surveys, Google Consumer Surveys. I haven’t had a proper look at it to be honest. It might be rubbish really, but it looks – on the surface, it looks good. So yes, lots of things you can do, Brad. I think it…

Marcus Lillington:
But just – I was going to say one more thing that I think it would be worth it, if you fill and I would have thought within a charity, you would get people willing to be – to give you the time, which is to interview people using a script.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Therefore you’re asking the same question of everyone.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
I’ve been through stakeholder interviews before, not wanting to sound too manipulative, but you can, if you’re – I can’t remember the example I just gave, but if you ask people logical questions, they will all go, yes, that makes sense. Even if what the reality is that that’s not happening. So it’s quite easy to get a lot of people to say yeah, sure, we should be doing that.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
And then you can say it – when you summarize all of these interviews, you go every single person I interviewed said we should be making the website read – I don’t know, I’m making it up, so then you’ve got all of the senior managers’ opinions, you’ve asked them all the same question, and they’ve all answered it in the positive, so therefore we’ve got a big mandate to move forward.

Paul Boag:
Now you might be sitting thinking, Brad, a) I don’t have the time for all of this, and b) this all sounds scary. And this is where we kind of get to the real truth of the matter, which is that it takes you to be proactive, it takes you to stand up and say something and do something, and maybe you need to do this in the evenings to make it happen, maybe you do need to risk your job over it, to be quite frank, of being proactive, although in my experience, there’s very few managers that don’t like you to be proactive, as long as you don’t go over peoples’ heads; that is where people get particularly snipey.

So I actually – I think bite the bullet and go for it, start doing stuff, start taking control of your destiny and where you stand within the company because when you start behaving in a certain way, people will start treating you in a certain way. There is – from a personnel perspective, when I go into companies, I’ve got no right, particularly, to speak on some of the subjects that I speak on, but if I speak with confidence and I go for it, then most of the time I can con people into believing that I know what I’m doing.

Marcus Lillington:
So and with that, hire Headscape.

Paul Boag:
But a lot of times…

Marcus Lillington:
Do you know it’s actually true?

Paul Boag:
No, what I was going to say – take this morning for example, I joked with you, didn’t I? About you wanted some help with this responsibility assignment matrix, and I joked with you, you need someone to make some decisions for you and you went yeah, haha, yeah, I do, and I think that in a lot of companies, that’s what they need, they need someone willing to step up and say, look something needs – everyone sits and goes, this is rubbish, we all need to – we need to change, but somebody needs to step up and say okay, yes, this is rubbish and this is what we can do about it.

And you might not feel you’ve got the authority to do that, but if you start talking, well, we could do this! You’re not going to get fired for going, oh, we could do this. Have the guts, have the gumption and go for it, because to be honest – I’m really getting rant-y now and I apologize Brad, but if you’re not the kind of person that can step up and take authority and to go for it and put in the extra mile to make it happen, if you leave that company and go for work for an agency, you’re going to fail, because people that work – an agency is a very fast paced organization where you do need to take responsibility for yourself and your own actions and you will be pushed in that regard. So you need to learn to do that internally within an organization or you need to move to a different organization rather than go to an agency. Am I sounded really dogmatic now?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Do you disagree with me?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
You do?

Marcus Lillington:
On that one, yeah. I think that you don’t have to be a – decision maker or a go-getter to be a good front-end developer or good service side developer in an agency.

Paul Boag:
No – yes, okay. But you do need to be proactive and you do need to take responsibility.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, that’s different.

Paul Boag:
Okay. Maybe it is, fair enough. But yes – but hopefully we’ve given you some practical advise beyond my random ranting.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
So should we move on to the next question as me and Marcus disagree?

How do you maintain good talent in your company?

What are you doing to hire new talents and keep the good talents at Headscape?

Stefan Reichert

Marcus Lillington:
See if I can do this one a bit better than the last one.

Paul Boag:
I should hope so.

Marcus Lillington:
Stefan Reichert or – yeah, Reichert, must be. What are you doing to hire new talents and keep the good talents at Headscape? Then company culture written in brackets next to it, but I don’t – suspect that was part of the question.

Paul Boag:
I didn’t write that, so it must have been part of the question. What are we – I mean, this is – I feel slightly dodgy talking about this. What if we don’t have a – what do our staff think? Perhaps we don’t have a good company culture.

Marcus Lillington:
None at all, no. Your machine makes beep noises in my ears.

Paul Boag:
Sorry.

Marcus Lillington:
We don’t do anything at all. We make them come in at 6am and they have to work till midnight. They get one day’s holiday a year.

Paul Boag:
So what – I mean, let’s talk about this sensibly, right. So what’s the question? What are you doing to hire new talent and keep good talent at Headscape? Okay, first of all, it’s about establishing a culture, isn’t it? What is your company culture, what do you stand for and what don’t you stand for? Would you say that’s a fair starting point? Would you stop talking to your wife?

Marcus Lillington:
She’s got burgers for later.

Paul Boag:
So unprofessional. So I can tell you’re totally distracted in this, because I thought you’d have a lot to say on this subject because you actually quite …

Marcus Lillington:
What are we talking about?

Paul Boag:
Because you’re actually quite into this kind of company culture and creating the right kind of business.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, and you’re not just …

Paul Boag:
What? They ought to get on and do some bloody work, I think. They all doss around far too much in my opinion.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah.

Paul Boag:
So decide what your company culture is. In our case, it’s – we wanted a lifestyle business. So we want to create a company, which facilitates us and our employees’ lifestyles, so that is one way that we keep good talent. Great example of that is Ed, the email Ed sent round this morning, right. So he is not working for the next couple of days between 10.30 and 1.30 because he wants to watch the rugby, right. And so he is making that – I can hear him laughing downstairs now – so he is making up that time in the evening. So it’s being flexible and giving your employees flexibility is one part of it, and trust as well.

Marcus Lillington:
You’ve got to be careful with that. If you do – we’ve learnt over the years that you can make mistakes. We basically want to be really kind of easygoing about things. But some people take the piss frankly, and you have to be wary of who you employ. I remember talking to – what was his name? Dan, at Silver Orange anyway.

Paul Boag:
Dan – yeah, Dan James at Silver Orange, link in the show notes.

Marcus Lillington:
About a similar – and they take a year to employ someone.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
And it’s like yeah, okay, lesson learned.

Paul Boag:
But yeah and we have mistakes, but for example, I know that Ed talked to Pete about that and that was the result of it, because originally Ed said well, I want to take a whole day’s holiday, which is actually more of a pain than him just taking a couple of hours here and there.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, exactly.

Paul Boag:
So I think it’s about flexibility. Trust is the other thing. Trusting your employees to get the job done. What else is big? Rewarding them when you’re rewarded. So we’ve – in the past, we used to give bonuses a lot. To be frank, the economic climate hasn’t been as great, so we haven’t been able to do that for a while, but we’ve just given all our staff iPad Minis as a kind of thank you for your efforts. So those kinds of rewards from time to time help.

Marcus Lillington:
But I mean, in our case, we’ve deliberately never made anything performance related.

Paul Boag:
No.

Marcus Lillington:
If we’re doing well, then everyone does, then it – I mean, we have occasionally given extra bonuses, but it’s all very much based on what we think is appropriate. You won’t get 10% of this if you do …

Paul Boag:
No, there is no set – it’s all discretionary so that people don’t come to expect it.

Marcus Lillington:
Well and also – and it then becomes a big competition, which is not what we want.

Paul Boag:
No, it creates the wrong kind of atmosphere. Sometimes with company culture, you need to take the opposite approach of what we’ve already said, which is that sometimes you have to know when to enforce something. So a good example of that was Sqwiggle recently. So we’ve just adopted a new technology called Sqwiggle, link in the show notes, which we’re using as our primary communication tool. It shows little pictures of everybody and you can click on a picture and just start talking with people.

So it’s a bit like Google hang-ups – hangouts, but much more instant than that. You don’t have to ring people or anything like that. And this was something we felt would really help company culture because we’re so spread out all over the place, but we knew some employees wouldn’t like it and so we’ve kind of had to enforce that. So sometimes it is not all about being big, fluffy and lovely, it is – there is the other side to it as well.

Marcus Lillington:
It does have the advantage that you can cook your breakfast on your laptop.

Paul Boag:
Yes because it super heats it, absolutely, yeah. They’re working on that, cut them some slack.

Marcus Lillington:
Daily moan on that one. I’m sorry, but it will be.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
But I think it’s marvelous. So what we’re doing?

Paul Boag:
Paying them decently.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, although of the good people who we’ve still got here and also the good people that have left over the years, they’ve usually left because they’ve thought I’m going to get something more interesting somewhere else.

Paul Boag:
Yes. So type of work as well.

Marcus Lillington:
Whether they actually do or not, I don’t know. But yeah, it’s – you’ve got to make sure people have got interesting stuff to work on.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Only you can’t guarantee what’s coming through the door. No, we don’t do the – we don’t work in the most exciting sectors.

Paul Boag:
No, we don’t. So that is a slight problem. We try and make projects exciting. There’s normally something in it that they can…

Marcus Lillington:
But I think for – because we know that and because we do tend to do a lot of very complex, very kind of in-depth projects, we try and keep the good talent here by being a really kind of nice place to work. And we think it is, because we want it to be a nice place of work for us.

Paul Boag:
But what he is getting at is what makes it a nice place to work. Just saying it’s making it a nice place to work is – that’s very woolly. What is it? It’s the working from home, it’s the flexible hours, it’s the nice rewards, it’s going out to the pub together …

Marcus Lillington:
Nice office.

Paul Boag:
…it’s nice office, it’s that kind of stuff, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly. Yeah, I mean, if this was a big sales culture, it’d be about the car you drove or whatever. But it’s not – that doesn’t kind of work for us, it’s – yeah, it’s about cool kit, nice place to work, being able to work – being able to go, alright if I don’t come until midday today, but I will make the time up later? And nobody bats an eyelid. That kind of easygoing nature of the place.

Paul Boag:
But after saying all that stuff and I think it’s fair to say that our sector does have a relatively high turnover of staff. I mean, we’ve been quite lucky, but as a sector as a whole, people do move on relatively quickly and I think that’s another aspect to take into account. I see – I love the people that have kind of stuck with us from the beginning, the kind of Chris and Lee’s that have been here forever and will be here forever, you kind of know that they’re invested in us.

But equally, there are other people that come in who you know we’re a stepping stone. And I’m okay with that and I actually think part of providing a good company culture is to nurture people into the next step. Rob Borley was a great example of that. It was obvious from, I mean, that we kind of nurtured him up almost straight out of university, not quite, but fairly off of that and it became relatively obvious, not – a fair while ago that he was an entrepreneur, that he would go and set up his own company.

And that’s cool and that’s good and we were able to support him and help him to the point of doing that and although it always feels weird when someone actually does do it, that’s a part of it. I think another part of keeping good staff is to recognize that you have to support their long-term career and their long-term career might not always be with you. So part of keeping staff is actually being willing to let them go, bizarrely.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, I’d never quite thought of it like that, but yeah, that’s true. I mean, we’ve always accepted that people aren’t going to hang around forever. I mean, some people have.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, quite a lot have actually.

Marcus Lillington:
But yeah, I think particularly the youngest people that we’ve employed, you kind of know that…

Paul Boag:
Yeah. They don’t know how good they’ve got it here. That’s the thing.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, exactly.

Paul Boag:
Because they haven’t worked elsewhere. I actually kind of, semi mean that because I think it is true to some regards.

Marcus Lillington:
As far as new hires, the other part of the question, I mean, that depends on who – on the type of person and we’re not looking to hire new people very often, would be the honest answer to that.

Paul Boag:
We are trying. Yeah, we’re – we have learnt our lesson not to rush into it. So, I mean, classic example, at the moment, we’re hiring a junior consultant. I don’t know whether the word ‘junior’ has done us any good actually in advertising that position, but we’re trying to get somebody that’s moving into consultancy for the first time. Maybe they’ve got good track record in design development and are moving across into consultancy. So link in the show notes to that job.

But I’ve got no desire to hurry that appointment. I want to get it right, we’ve been – so taking your time is a really big one. In terms of how you kind of encourage people to join new is sit down with them face to face because to be quite frank, if they, after sitting having a chat with us, if they don’t want to join us, we don’t really want them to join us because it’s probably a bad match.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
Because if they don’t like us very much and if they don’t – in fact, not even if they don’t like us very much, if they don’t like us so much that they’re desperate to work with us, then I don’t think we really want to work with them. It’s a weird thing to say. It’s easy to talk like this when you’ve not got pressure on you to actually hire someone tomorrow.

Marcus Lillington:
We’ve had that, yeah.

Paul Boag:
And that’s – we’ve made that mistake, of feeling like we’ve had to expand to meet client demand. But you sometimes need to decide I’m willing – this is the new realization to us, to be honest, isn’t it? In the last couple of months, few months, we’ve decided, look, we don’t want to grow massively bigger, we need to get used to turning away people. And saying no, we can’t do that, no, we can’t do that, no, we can’t do that.

And I think that is such – it has taken us 10 years to learn that lesson, but I think it is possibly one of the most valuable lessons we have or will ever learn. We still aren’t very good at doing it yet, but that’s certainly our goal at the moment. As soon as you do that, it takes all the pressure off of recruitment so you can be much more fussy over who you recruit, but also you can be much more fussy about the work you take on, which means your staff get much more interesting work to do. So there is a big benefit I think to staying small.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s finding the right size, isn’t it? Some people would think we were big. If you’re a two, three men entity…

Paul Boag:
Absolutely.

Marcus Lillington:
…they think oh blimey, how do you manage to feed that many mouths, but equally we were…

Paul Boag:
Nearly 20.

Marcus Lillington:
We are 11 at the moment; we feel we are looking for one more person. So being 12, we think seems to be about the right size. I mean, we were 20 and it was like…

Paul Boag:
That was too big for us, wasn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Well, it was too big because we kind of felt that a) there was a lot of pressure on the bottom line, bringing enough work in for everybody, which kind of meant that we were focusing ourselves too much all the time. And b) we weren’t concentrating on the work that was going out the door maybe as much as we should have been doing.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, it felt like a factory and that’s what…

Marcus Lillington:
And I think standards slipped a bit as well.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I would agree.

Marcus Lillington:
Not all the time, but the odd thing here and there.

Paul Boag:
And to be honest, I think there are points where we’re actually still living with the consequences of that, from a kind of development point of view where certain things went out the door from a development point of view that maybe wasn’t as hot as it should have been in hindsight.

So yes, that was a really rambling answer to a very short question. But it’s a really interesting area and really important as well and I don’t think we’re experts at it by any means. The thing I will conclude with is go and check out some of the stuff that Dan James has spoken and written on running a company, because he has got a completely different model of working.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, theirs is very radical, I would use their word.

Paul Boag:
It is, but you almost need to look at the radical to know it’s gone too far for us and it – seeing one extreme helps to push you a little bit towards that extreme, but work out where, how far you’re willing to go. So for example, just to summarize what he – they do at their company, they’re all equal partners. They all have got the same pay, the pay is all openly discussed across the company, most decisions – they have a smaller group that make the central decisions, but everything except for HR issues are published in agenda notes after their meetings, everyone can see it and everyone can discuss it. So it’s communist basically.

Marcus Lillington:
It is, it’s a kibbutz, isn’t it?

Paul Boag:
Yes. Now I don’t think I would be happy running my company that way, but it’s really interesting to me.

Marcus Lillington:
They must have had some – you mentioned the word, the HR word there. I mean, that’s a recipe for absolute nightmare.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I mean, he is very honest about, he is writing a post at the moment for Smashing Magazine I’m helping him with. And he is very honest that it doesn’t always work.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, no!

Paul Boag:
No, absolutely.

Marcus Lillington:
Because some people are built – they have an inner ability to deal with more shit, and in my book, and I may be kind of shot down for this, but I think dealing with shit equals getting paid more, in my book.

Paul Boag:
Well, on that basis, I shouldn’t be paid anything, because I just waltz around doing the stuff I like…

Marcus Lillington:
That’s so not true, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I know.

Marcus Lillington:
No, dealing with shit, that’s probably not the right word. I’m being flippant, but taking on pressure is what I’m talking about here, as well as obviously you’ve got to have some skill of course, but it’s not just about skill.

Paul Boag:
Well, I mean, yeah, but this is where – that’s why we don’t run the Silver Orange model.

Marcus Lillington:
But what I’m saying is how can anyone run that model? It’s just like…

Paul Boag:
Perhaps you need to get Dan back on the show to talk it through with us.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, maybe.

Paul Boag:
But yeah, it’s a fascinating area and I think it’s an area that you do – if you’re running your own business, you need to put a lot of thought into it. It’s very easy just to get swept along with the day to day stuff and you do need to think strategically about what kind of company you want to be and what you want your employees to think about your company. And I think the most interesting time is when somebody leaves and how – what they say about you after they’ve left I think is a good indication of how well or otherwise that you were doing. Anyway, shall we wrap up today?

Marcus Lillington:
Definitely, total bastards, all of them.

Paul Boag:
Shall we wrap up today’s show with your new found whopping great wodge of jokes?

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I found – I haven’t just newly found this, my wife bought me – I think it was my wife – bought me a 365 Hysterical Jokes.

Paul Boag:
Hysterical, wow! That’s really raising up the volume.

Marcus Lillington:
I haven’t found one hysterical one yet. For example, how do you catch a squirrel? Climb into a tree and act like a nut.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, that’s not really hysterical.

Marcus Lillington:
Right, so I can’t – this might not be such a good idea. I brought it because I thought it would be a good thing to have on the podcast desk, but can people…

Paul Boag:
Have you got an alternative?

Marcus Lillington:
I have, but it’s of a similar level, but did make me laugh. Paul, what’s brown and sticky?

Paul Boag:
My poo. Sorry, I’m supposed to say, Marcus, what is brown and sticky?

Marcus Lillington:
You’re supposed to know the answer to that one.

Paul Boag:
Brown and sticky.

Marcus Lillington:
What’s brown and sticky?

Paul Boag:
I don’t know.

Marcus Lillington:
This is great when you don’t know this.

Paul Boag:
Oh, it’s a stick!

Marcus Lillington:
In a similar vein, what’s brown and sounds like a bell?

Paul Boag:
I don’t know that one.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s very similar to your first answer, dung.

Paul Boag:
Dung, oh dear, that’s terrible.

Marcus Lillington:
Anyway, I need some more jokes, folks.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, desperately, by the sounds of it. Did I tell you I’ve recorded – over the weekend we recorded a special edition of Boagworld without you?

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
Me and my son did one. It’s on the Boagworld – oh no, it’s just come off the Boagworld home page. I haven’t put it on the main feed because I thought that’s a bit unfair. So if people want to go and find it, you can check it out at boagworld.com and I’m sure you will find it there and James did a joke on the show. So you will have to listen to it to hear his joke. It was about as good as most of yours, to be honest.

Marcus Lillington:
Was he me?

Paul Boag:
He was you, yeah. The whole show, I think the introduction to the show was on this week’s podcast, we discuss the demise of Marcus, the rise of James and the 100 – the top ten computer games of all time. So he stood in for you. He was quite good actually, I was quite impressed with him.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay, well, we’ll know what to do next time…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, next time you’re away on holiday or something, which is…

Marcus Lillington:
About a month’s time, Paul.

Paul Boag:
I know, but we’re going to stop over August.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, but that’s not – that’s about two month’s time.

Paul Boag:
Oh, right.

Marcus Lillington:
I’m away for a week.

Paul Boag:
Oh yes, because we’ve got one where we have to record two like – two days apart or something.

Marcus Lillington:
Or you could do one with James.

Paul Boag:
I can’t do a proper web design podcast with James. All he wants to talk about is computer games and science.

Marcus Lillington:
Same as me, but kind of…

Paul Boag:
You at least pretend you care about web design.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, fair enough.

Paul Boag:
Anyway, I will put a link in the show notes to the special episode, in case you want to check that out. It was just a bit of fun with me and my son. All right, thank you very much for listening and we will talk again next week. Bye, bye.

Marcus Lillington:
Bye.

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